No, Fire in the Sky (1993) is not a horror movie. Despite this, the abduction sequence towards the end of the film is still one of, if not the most terrifying depictions of an alien abduction ever filmed. Adding to the terror is the fact that the film is supposedly based on true events. Forget the cuddly little guy in E.T. – if this is what meeting an extraterrestrial is like, I’ll pass.
Fire in the Sky takes place in Snowflake, Arizona, in November 1975. It is there that a group of loggers reportedly saw an unidentified flying object while leaving the job site on November 5th. Walton, played in the film by D. B. Sweeney, gets out of the truck to look while the rest of the crew remains inside. After a bright light knocks the man down, the rest of the crew, lead by Walton’s best friend, Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick, who played the T-1000 in Terminator 2), flee the scene. After they call the authorities to report the incident, Mike and his crew come under scrutiny from both police and the town.
Directed by Robert Lieberman, much of the film plays out like a straightforward drama film. But once we get a glimpse aboard the ship that supposedly abducted Walton, things take a turn for the horrific. You can view the scene below, courtesy of Fandango Movieclips.
Walton, who made it back from the journey in one piece, went on to write an account of his abduction. Originally titled The Walton Experience, the book was redistributed as Fire in the Sky to promote the film. It was originally released in 1978. Many UFO enthusiasts consider it to be one of the best first-hand accounts of an alien experience ever written.
On Travis Walton’s website, he provides a snippet of the incident from his book. Upon being abducted, Walton writes about his experience on the strange UFO:
I looked past the upper edge of the device. I could see the blurry figures of the doctors, leaning over me with their white masks and caps. They were wearing unusual, orange-colored surgical gowns. I could not make out their faces clearly.
Abruptly my vision cleared. The sudden horror of what I saw rocked me as I realized that I was definitely not in a hospital.
I was looking squarely into the face of a horrible creature! It looked steadily back at me with huge, luminous brown eyes the size of quarters.
I looked frantically around me. There were three of them! I struck out at the two on my right, hitting one with the back of my arm, knocking it into the other one. My swing was more of a push than a blow, I was so weakened. The one I touched felt soft through the cloth of its garment. The muscles of its puny physique yielded with a sponginess that was more like fat than sinew.
Travis Walton, The Walton Experience, 1978
The truth of the account is up for you to interpret. Many consider it nothing more than a hoax for financial gain. Others believe it to be a reliable account of a real abduction. Me? Well, I’m not one to judge. I don’t know if it actually happened or not – and frankly, it doesn’t make a difference to me. What does matter it that the movie is awesome. It’s a great drama with one seriously terrifying and memorable sequence. The depiction of Walton’s experience in Lieberman’s movie remains haunting; it’s been powerful enough to give anyone with even an inkling of belief in the extraterrestrial nightmares for the past 25 years.
For those interested, the film is currently streaming on Netflix in the United States.