Nuggets of Wisdom

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Top 13 Scariest Nostalgic Moments (#6)

I'm pretty sure I'm cheating with this entry, considering that it's neither from a children's movie or from my childhood. However, since I did watch it as a teenager, that technically makes it nostalgic, so it sort of counts.

Before it was changed to the literally-challenged SyFy Channel (which now broadcasts pro-wrestling of all things) the Sci-Fi channel used to be the main hub for all things sci-fi and horror, broadcasting vintage and modern sci-fi flicks.

One of these sci-fi movies which I watched as a teenager, only to scar me for life, was Fire in the Sky, a 1992 movie based off a real-life alien encounter--and of course by "real-life," I mean obviously fake.

The year is 1975. A group of redneck miners are driving home from work only to come across an unidentified flying object. One of them gets the bright idea of getting out of the car and having a closer look, only for him to get stunned by the ship's beams. Frightened, the other four drive off and leave him behind.

The rest of the movie plays as a courtroom drama as the other four are suspected of having killed the guy. Of course, they end up proving their innocence.

Seriously, this trial takes up a huge chunk of the film. The trailer advertises the movie as an intense sci-fi thriller, but most of it plays like To Kill A Mockingbird. Only around the third act do we actually see any sci-fi action, and boy howdy is it intense.

Following the trial, one of the men receives a phone call from the missing man. They all head out to a gas station where they discover him crouched into a ball, naked, malnourished, and clearly traumatized. After being taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries, he's taken home and greeted with a hero's welcome, as everyone assumes that he was taken into space. But the man clearly isn't happy, still traumatized over the experience.

Clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he crouches under a table to escape from everyone, and it's around this time that we take a look into his psyche as he recalls that fateful encounter.

Before I go into the next scene with detail, I should mention that this movie is actually an adaptation of a book, which of course describes the "real-life" alien abduction. And as is the norm with most Hollywood adaptations, this movie takes liberties with the alien abduction, and by "liberties," I mean it's nothing like the book.

At all!

In the book, the man wakes up in an examination room surrounded by three aliens. Frightened, he shouts at them and picks up a glass tube that he wields as a weapon to ward them off, which he surprisingly manages to do, as the aliens flee the room in panic.

After the aliens leave, he exits the room and walks down a hallway to what appears to be the cockpit. He sits down in a chair and pushes on the lever which causes the stars to move across the screen, as if the ship were flying through space.

He then leaves the chair and heads back into the hall where he encounters a helmeted man who motions to follow him. They enter another room with two men and a woman, and the abducted man has somewhat of a conversation with them. The woman then takes an oxygen mask and covers his mouth with it, causing him to pass out, later to awaken at the gas station.

Seems like a weird experience, right? Well, that's not how its portrayed in the movie. Instead, we're treated to a completely different interpretation--a completely traumatizing different interpretation.

#6: Fire In The Sky Alien Abduction Scene

The man awakes in a cell covered in a strange liquid, sort of like embalming fluid. He soon busts out of his cell and finds himself floating through zero-gravity in a hive-like environment, where he crashes through another cell with his hand crashing right through the ribcage of a mummified man.

Shocked, he ends up descending to the bottom of the hive where he discovers the space-suits of the aliens--along with the aliens themselves. (Which look like generic aliens! How shocking!)

The aliens drag him down a filthy, garbage filled hallway and to an examination room where they strip him naked, cover him with a sheet, and spray him with a mist that solidifies the sheet, binding him in place.

Once he's restrained, they stick a gel and syringe in his mouth, a probe into his neck, and a device around his eye which secretes a milky liquid. Then from the ceiling lowers a device that connects to the probes in his neck and mouth and sticks a needle into his eye.

Yeah, even as a 13-year-old, this scene managed to mess me up. First, the entire sequence occurs in a dark setting, and a messy one at that. Seriously, if this is supposed to be a medical or scientific vessel, you'd imagine it would have better sanitation. It seems more like a garbage dump than a laboratory. I shudder to think what kind of infection this guy is going to contact from this environment in his condition.

Second, we as an audience have no idea what is happening to this guy. We don't know what experiments are being performed on him or for what reason. This procedure is as alien as it gets. This makes the scene all the more intimidating, as we are left to guess what is happening to him.

What we are left with is an experience that traumatizes us as much as it traumatizes the victim. And that seems to be the genius of this scene. Throughout the movie, we don't see the man or hear of his experience up until now, and even when it is revealed what has happened to him, we still don't know what exactly he went through or endured.

I also think this scene plays an eerie parallel to war veterans. Think about it: this man is welcomed home as a hero for having gone into space and back, and yet he doesn't feel that same way. He ends up being reclusive, still visibly traumatized by his experience, having undergone unearthly torments, sort of like what veterans got though with post-traumatic stress disorder.

It leaves him with a traumatic experience just as much as it leaves us with one.

How scary is it? Like going to the dentist for a root canal...without any anesthetics!