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Dusty: I think you’re startin’ to get a pretty good feel for who I am, readers. I’ve been at this line of work for a long time. You know what’s startin’ to bug me? I think maybe you didn’t just forget to like this post and subscribe to the site, but for the life of me, I can’t figure why you’re coverin’ up.
Director: Robert Lieberman
Writers: Travis Walton, Tracy Tormé
Stars: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer
Release Date: March 12, 1993
Run time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Driving back towards town that night, the loggers see a unearthly light in the distance through the treeline. Investigating, they encounter an unidentified flying object. Curious, Walton gets out of the truck to examine closer, only for the hovering object to react and strike him with a bright beam of light, hurling him several feet backwards. Fearing Walton has been killed, the terrified loggers escape from the scene. Rogers decides to go back to the spot to retrieve Walton, but he is nowhere to be found.
Returning to town to report the incident, the loggers are met with skepticism by investigators Sheriff Blake Davis and Lieutenant Frank Watters. Watters, realizing that there was a great deal of tension between Dallis and Walton and that the boorish Dallis has a criminal record, suspects foul play, a belief that quickly spreads to the rest of the town, leaving the loggers as social outcasts.
After a large search party turns up no sign of Travis, the loggers are offered the chance to take a lie detector test. Though Dallis is initially hesitant, the loggers ultimately take the test in the hopes of proving their innocence. However, Watters declares that the tests were inconclusive and that they will have to return the next day to retake it. Rogers is outraged and he angrily declines, the other loggers following suit. The test’s administrator reveals to Watters and Davis that, with the exception of Dallis (whose test results were inconclusive), the loggers seem to be telling the truth.
Five days later, Rogers receives a call from someone claiming to be Walton. He is found at a Heber gas station, alive but naked, dehydrated and severely traumatized. A ufologist questions Walton but he is thrown out and Walton is taken to a hospital. Rogers visits Walton while in the emergency room and ends up telling Walton that he left him after he was struck by the light but came back to get him. Walton appears enraged at being left behind and turns away from Rogers who blames the whole incident on Walton for getting out of the truck. During a welcome home party, Walton suffers from a mental breakdown and flashback of the abduction by the extraterrestrials.
In his flashback, he awakens inside a slimy cocoon. Breaking out of its membrane, a bewildered Walton finds himself adrift in a zero-gravity alien environment inside a cylindrical enclosure, whose walls contain other similar cocoons. Struggling in the low gravity, he accidentally breaches a nearby cocoon, horrified to discover that it contains decomposing human remains. Exploring further, he drifts towards a neighbouring area, seeing several humanoid figures below him. Drifting uncontrollably towards them, he investigates, surmising that the immobile figures are in fact spacesuits, one of which is still occupied by an extraterrestrial creature. Walton attempts to escape, but is apprehended by two aliens who drag him down corridors full of terrestrial detritus such as shoes and keys before arriving in a examination chamber.
The aliens hold the struggling Walton to a platform in the centre of the chamber, stripping him of his clothes and covering him with an elastic material that completely restrains him. Despite Walton’s terrified screams, the aliens clinically subject him to a torturous experiment in which a gelatinous substance is forced into his mouth, a tube is inserted down his throat, his jaw is locked open and a device is stabbed into his neck. Overhead equipment then begins lowering towards him. As a needle-like ocular probe extends towards his exposed eye, Walton suddenly reawakens from his flashback in a doctor’s office.
While interviewing Walton, Lieutenant Watters expresses his doubts about the abduction, dismissing it as a hoax. He notes Walton’s newfound celebrity because of the tabloids’ attempts to profit from his tale, believing that he had faked the abduction to become a celebrity. However, with the investigation closed, Watters is forced to abandon his pursuit and leaves town. Two and a half years later, Walton visits Rogers, now a recluse, and the two reconcile. The closing titles inform that in 1993, Walton, Rogers, and Dallis were resubmitted to additional polygraph examinations, which they passed, corroborating their innocence.
Fire in the Sky is a reasonably good mystery / thriller / horror film. As this is based on an allegedly true story of an alien abduction, the film’s story focuses not on whether Travis Walton was actually taken, but instead upon how his friends react to being witnesses, and how the locals react to their story. It is easy to understand, after watching the film, why abduction victims might not want to come forward to tell their stories. After Travis Walton is eventually found, the film gives the audience a brief glimpse into his time on the craft… and the depicted experience is like something out of your worst nightmare. We get goo, nakedness, things being shoved in his mouth, and surrounding that look something like a hive.
This screenplay for the film is based on a book by the real Travis Walton, titled The Walton Experience. The story from the book is an allegedly true autobiographical account of Walton’s own abduction. If you have never heard Travis Walton talk about all of this in an interview format, I highly encourage you to do so. Do you think he’s telling the truth?
The movie’s frightening abduction scenes are different than Walton’s account. The director of the film, Robert Lieberman, apparently did not believe that Walton was telling the truth. Since he did not believe Walton, and found the account to be boring, he made the scenes – in his opinion – more entertaining. Maybe the extraterrestrials should sue him for defamation.
“My gut feeling had it that Travis was so much smarter than those other guys, that it started out as a gag. They probably laced their beer at the end of the day with a little acid or something and then they put on a show for these guys and they believed it.” – Robert Lieberman, Director
One other interesting note from the film is that Robert Patrick (who you might remember from Terminator 2: Judgment Day) found out after filming that he is related to Mike Rogers, the character he plays in this film.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The acting is good and it’s well-paced, never really lagging despite the story format being largely an investigation into an event that the audience knows to have actually occurred. The way that the witnesses and the town react to the story is what makes the movie work. Then of course, when we finally do see the actual abduction, it provides just enough nightmare fuel to keep the audience out of the woods for a while.
Have you seen Fire in the Sky? If so, what did you think?