Fire In The Sky (1993) – A Look Back

It’s perhaps the most famous alien abduction case of them all.

Travis Walton was a fairly modest man. Working with a lumbering crew out of Snowflake in Arizona. A normal guy living a normal life – cutting down trees in the Sitgreaves National Forest near his home town. Yet something happened to this guy on November 5 1975. Something EXTRAORDINARY.

Whilst on the way home from a gruelling twelve hour shift felling trees in the forest – he and his coworkers encountered a UFO. A saucer shaped object hovering in a clearing next to the woodland dirt road.

They all stopped to take a look at this thing. Walton got out of the truck to take a closer look. A beam of light shot out from the bowels of the vessel – striking Walton and knocking him to the ground.

His coworkers panicked. Thinking he had been killed they sped off the escape this unearthly horror. However Mike Rogers went back to get him. Rogers was the foreman of the crew – and Walton’s brother-in-law to be.

When he got back to where Walton had been knocked down, both Walton and the ship were gone.

When the crew arrived back in Snowflake they reported the incident to the authorities – and were almost immediately under suspicion of murdering Walton and creating the outlandish story to cover up their crime. Lie detector tests however revealed that they were telling the truth. Or thought they were at least.

Astonishingly – Walton returned five days later with an unusual story to tell.

According to Walton’s account he woke up in a strange sterile looking room which at first he thought was a hospital. Only he’d soon discover it was anything but. He was terrified to see that he was being observed by three alien creatures. Big heads, big eyes, small mouths and grey skin.

Startled, Walton jumped from his bed and tried to smash a nearby test tube to turn into a weapon to threaten the creatures with. The glass would not smash. No matter how hard he hit it against the table.

The creatures left the room. Walton left the room too and began to explore the interior of the craft. He came across a room with a large screen and a chair with a lever of some kind on it. Walton sat down on the chair and played with the lever which caused a graphic of a star chart on the screen to change. Fearing he’d damage the contraption he stopped and left the room to explore the ship further.

Eventually three human looking beings found Walton. At first he was relieved to see them but on closer inspection their eye colour and blank gaze revealed them to be anything but human.

They led Walton into another room and put a mask over his face. He passed out.

When he awoke he was back home on a road near where he was abducted – the ship rocketing away above him.

Walton became a celebrity on the UFO circuit. Appearing at conventions and on TV. In 1978 he published a book about his experience. In 1993 it was adapted into the film Fire In The Sky. 

The film starred D.B Sweeney as Walton, Robert Patrick as Mike Rogers, and James Garner as Lt. Frank Watters – an FBI Agent assigned to Snowflake to investigate the circumstances behind Walton’s disappearance. Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg and Henry Thomas played the other members of the crew. It was directed by Robert Lieberman.

The film was met with mixed reviews but has gone on to become a cult favourite amongst science fiction fans. It’s controversial amongst hardcore so called “UFOlogists” because the events shown upon the alien craft do not match Walton’s own account.

Allegedly Paramount Pictures found Walton’s story to be not all that interesting – so screenwriter Tracy Torme’  was instructed to make the abduction sequence flashier and more provocative. That right there is about the strangest thing in this film. It bears no resemblance to what supposedly actually happened – but it’s the film’s best scene! It’s the money shot. The film’s big moment. It utterly chills to the bone. Everything else leading up to the scene is largely forgettable – but this scene is utterly unforgettable.

When I first saw this film I was fairly young teenage boy. It was on TV late one night and I stayed up to watch it. I was aware the film was “based on a true story”. I didn’t know at the time that the alien abduction scene was embellished for dramatic purposes.

It utterly terrified the living FUCK out of me. 

I had to turn the lights off and try to go to sleep after that, thinking it really happened that way and that’s what ALL alien abductions must be like.

Looking back it’s hard to say whether this is a good film or not.

The scene where the loggers first encounter the UFO is fairly eerie – and then of course there’s Walton’s terrifying recollection of his abduction – but other than that it’s a fairly straightforward American small town drama. Other than scenes involving the UFO – it’s fairly unremarkable.

As the logging crew are suspected of murder – Robert Patrick does well with his performance as Mike Rogers. In a way the film is mostly about him. The guilt he felt for abandoning Walton, and how the incident affected his livelihood and standing within a community of which he was previously seen as an upstanding member.

He gets a fine Jimmy Stewart-esque moment when he addresses a town hall meeting protesting his innocence.

James Garner also puts in a fine, laconic performance as the sceptical Lt Watters. One gets the feeling his character is supposed to represent the sceptics in the audience. At the end of the movie he still thinks the whole incident is a big hoax. That the whole thing was planned – even with the lie detector results that indicated everybody involved told the truth.

There are many out there who STILL believe this whole event was fabricated.

Travis Walton made a cameo appearance in the film and to this day still gives talks and makes appearances at conventions. He’s something of a minor celebrity. Recently he’s been saying that another movie is in the works regarding his experience and that it’ll be more true to the events that occurred.

Until then – this film is worth watching if only for the abduction scene.

In closing – in 2008 Travis Walton appeared on a gameshow called “The Moment Of Truth”. He was asked if he’d ever been abducted by aliens to which he answered “YES”. Here’s the clip –

Make of that what you will. I know what I believe. I’ll save that for the talkback.

The Man Who Saved Movies. This has been another collaboration with my buddy Dee over at The Supernaughts!

Please check out what he had to say! Right here!

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  • Mi chiamo “Dee”

    Very on point! I see we see share a lot of viewpoints!

    • Mi chiamo “Dee”

      for some odd reason, the link in the article doesn’t quite work…here it is again:

    • Do you believe him?

      • Mi chiamo “Dee”

        I have no idea. Maybe he lies, maybe HE really believes it. It doesn’t matter. But I say there is a 99,9% chance it did not happen.

        • Mi chiamo “Dee”

          After watching that YT video above, I start to think that not even he believes it…

        • Personally, I think he’s full of shit. His reaction in that clip totally gives him away IMO.
          Did you see the way his family reacted?
          They were FURIOUS!

          • Mi chiamo “Dee”

            Yeah I mean a lie detector can yield false results, especially if the contestant is in a situation like this, but the way he reacts is not of someone who is upset about a wrong result.

          • Yeah, then there’s the lame ass excuse he gives…

          • Mi chiamo “Dee”

            Like right out of the Trump playbook…

          • “Only 97% accurate”
            MY ASS.

  • I_am_better

    I gotta try and watch this now…getting wayyy too intrigued

  • I had a big problem with aliens when I was a kid, and this movie made it much worse. I was already watching Sightings every weekend; I was about seven when Sightings started airing, and probably nine or so when Fire in the Sky came out. I was horrified by all that stuff, but I was so intrigued I had to watch and read everything.
    The drawings of Betty and Barney Hill’s aliens (from probably the first abduction case) look quite similar to the ones from Fire in the Sky.

    • I like science fiction stories with aliens in them and stuff – but I don’t think I’ve ever really been into the whole abduction in real life thing.
      Truth? I’m going to just come out with it. I do not believe in the existence of extra terrestrials.
      And I think all alien ? abduction cases are bullshit.
      I’m kinda closed minded when it comes to things like that.

      • I don’t really believe, but I don’t disbelieve. I think there’s probably something to it, but maybe not what the people who experience them think it is. But maybe it is. A lot of it seems far-fetched. I think Communion did a good job of illustrating just how nonsensical and unlikely the whole thing is, even though it’s from a purportedly true event.

        • I wish I could believe. Just don’t. Can’t explain it.

          • There’s like no likelihood they’d ever make it here through interstellar space. Maybe they have some other method, but it’s doubtful. Probably it’s just some psychological thing. Maybe the CIA was behind some of it; they used to test some heavy drugs on random people.

          • Google “sleep paralysis”. Many think that could be an explanation.

          • I had an episode of sleep paralysis about a year ago, and there were aliens. Your typical Grays. It took all my might to muster, “take me, aliens,” which I kept saying over and over. Because if you can’t beat ’em… I was actually saying it when I finally woke up. I was kinda disappointed there weren’t actually aliens.

          • When I had it, I saw a blonde woman for some reason. Nothing salacious in the experience.
            It was terrifying.

          • I get it all the time. Nowadays it doesn’t bother me as much.
            One time I had it, and my eyes must have opened right when it started, because in my dream there was a bee on my arm. I couldn’t swat it away because I was paralyzed, so I just stood there, but slowly everything morphed into the real world; my arm was the jacket I was using as a pillow, and the bee was a button on that jacket. I think it was from drinking too much.

          • Yikes ?! I don’t get it any more, I think because now I’m on CPAP therapy.

  • Communion was a good one. We watched that in the Cineplex at the Dojo about a year ago.

  • So, first of all, I believe in other life existing in the universe. Think about the number of galaxies out there. To think we are alone is sort of silly.
    Now, as to whether or not we have actually been visited, I don’t know. I think yes, perhaps we have been, and cases like this are intriguing, but until we see solid evidence I can’t say for sure.
    I once met Whitley Strieber and heard him speak for about an hour. He is an alumnus of the high school I attended and our creative writing instructor invited Mr. Strieber to speak. I don’t know whether or not his story is true…but that fucker was WEIRD. He sat on the edge of a table and his body language and tone of voice was very calm, almost sedate, yet his eyes NEVER stopped moving. Even during a brief Q&A, his eyes were darting around, almost as if he were searching for something or on the lookout for something. It was unsettling and I felt almost bad for him. I thought at first maybe he was high but he was totally calm and very lucid otherwise, but his eyeballs were going a million miles an hour. It was a very strange experience. I had already seen ‘Fire in the Sky’, which I absolutely love, and Mr. Strieber’s weirdness lent a whole new credibility to this whole issue.

    • Sorry man… I don’t believe at all in extra terrestrials. Never really have done. I’ve not heard one alien abduction story that I buy. And I’ve looked at quite a few.

      • The sheer numbers, though…billions of stars in billions of galaxies. At least one or two must have orbiting planets with life on them. Even if one is amoebas in a puddle of slime, the other could be our superior.
        I also look at it from a theological perspective. If God truly is infinite and omnipotent, why would He just have set only our world in motion? Why wouldn’t He do it a thousand times over?

        • Believe me man – I’ve had this discussion with many people. One thing I can’t get past is that the concept of the alien and how it was introduced into the public consciousness was through fiction. It was created by someone for a story. It’s like a modern day equivalent of a vampire, or a werewolf, or a zombie. I class aliens in that same category. A boogieman.
          I just don’t believe there are any anywhere.
          I have been wrong before though. 😉

          • If there are aliens, I hope they take me and let me fly around in the Millennium Falcon. 🙂

          • Pfft. If I found evidence of aliens, I’d just sell my story and get rich.
            Hate the game, not the player! ;p

    • The Magic Hunter

      I split the difference between you and Stu: I feel like the odds are that there is life elsewhere in the universe, but I’m extremely dubious that they’ve ever come here. The part that I can’t get past is mind-blowingly mundane: Wouldn’t they have been spotted approaching Earth across the solar system with one or more of the many high powered telescopes that we’ve had trained on the skies all around the world (not to mention the Hubble in orbit for the last few decades) for the last 100 years? I see only three ways that could not be happening, and all seem highly unlikely.

      1) Aliens have perfected cloaking technology. I know scientists here on Earth are making in-roads there, but this still seems way too sci-fi…

      2) These ships are so tiny and are emitting such small amounts of energy that our telescopes don’t register them. This possibility gets knocked off the table quickly for two reasons: the task of traveling long distances in space requires a massive amount of power (and I don’t care if you’ve got quark fusion or a dozen Clydesdales galloping on a treadmill under the hood: all that energy input is going to have a noticeable output trail of some kind) and it’s also not going to be cost effective to send just 2 or 3 or even a dozen E.T.s in one dinky ship that a rogue comet could suddenly wipe out, when, with a larger one, you’d get redundancy in the system, in terms of personnel and ship infrastructure. Better still would be an armada — but that would be super noticeable.

      3) The aliens have mastered wormhole travel. Admittedly, this is a trope we see a lot in film and tv: BANG, there’s the giant ship suddenly blocking our view of the nice sunset like an inconsiderate houseguest! But the problem there is one that I don’t see discused much. I’ll just leave aside all the feasibility questions around that (How do you make one? How do you make one without creating a galaxy-gobbling black hole? How do you control how wide it remains? How do you point it to exactly where you want to go? How do you get it to close up when you’re done, so random shit doesn’t get sucked in? How do you account for the corollary changes that will result all along your route anyway, by warping the space-time continuum between points A and B?). Let’s instead turn to the fact that using that method means you’re super far away from Earth to begin with, so far away that you can’t conceivably be able to assess the minutiae of crucial issues, such as how advanced our weapons are, how well we’ve harnessed electricity, how easily we’re able to travel up to space, what the historical trend is with the dominant species here when it comes to reacting to a new species or a new ecosystem, etc. What kind of space idiots would have the know-how to build a giant ship and successfully pass it through a wormhole, only to be blindsided by a nuke upside the head?! No, the smart move, if you have that technology, would be to pop up somewhere relatively close, but hidden, like the far side of Saturn. Then observe us for a couple decades or a century, then send a ship on over. (Or even better: send a message from a safe distance first). But then we’re back at square one, as far as getting noticed by our telescopes.

      On our end, I simply don’t see us even getting out of our solar system for a thousand years or so, much less at all close to all the recently discovered Goldilocks planets before they’re each burnt up by their suns. Just exiting the solar system will be hard on human bodies and on the hardware of ships: Google “termination shock” to learn about the ribbon of particles packed along there like driftwood logs and old trash thrown up on the beach by the tide.

      No, if we or any other space species truly wants to accomplish interstellar travel, I don’t think it will be through any of the above methods — and I don’t even think it will involve ships at all. I think it will involve a combination of the Singularity (human minds combining with AI — much more frighteningly possible than aliens visiting us) and quantum physics. Especially by harnessing the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, whereby a change to a particle here results in the same change to its twin somewhere across the universe, I think methods will be developed to “peek around” in the nooks and crannies of space, without having to send physical bodies there. This is depicted convincing in the great teen mystery sci-fi book “Space Case” in which it’s revealed that ( SPOILER ) one of the characters that the protagonist has been interacting with the whole time hasn’t been visible to anyone else because in fact she’s a projection into his mind from a planet light years away:

      • Well said, Magic. I think humanity will be long dead, or at least blasted back to the stone age, by our own stupidity (read that: nukes) before we accomplish anything even close to interstellar travel.

      • Just to concentrate on the idea of aliens visiting as for a minute here… OK. If you look at the latest blu ray release of Close Encounters there’s an interesting chat with Spielberg in the extra features and he says it best. With the way the world is now, with the amount of surveillance we have… the internet and all that stuff, cameras on our phones etc etc… if there was SOME evidence to get… someone would’ve got it… and it would be IMPOSSIBLE for the government to silence EVERYONE.
        And any “evidence” that is presented is negligible at best.
        In this the year of our Lord 2017… nobody has any actual hard DATA.
        That is a point that I think is well worth pondering.
        That book looks pretty groovy btw… I might get it for the kids! 🙂

        • The Magic Hunter

          Yeah, there’s already one sequel that’s good too!

  • jackcolton

    I don’t think I’ve seen this movie. my first thought was, is this that Christopher Walken movie that freaked me out when I was a kid. it’s not, and I see someone’s already mentioned it (Communion) but they sound almost identical. are they based on the same story I wonder? I have to see Communion again. it’s one of those films I’ve not seen since I was a kid and even then I only saw it once. likewise I’ll catch Fire in the sky. I think it’s actually available in its entirety on you tube.

  • Indrid Cold

    Wow. That youtube clip is brutal. Why would the guy go on a show like that an risk public humiliation?

  • I Die Hard Forever

    This brought me back… first time time I made a move on a girl was in the theater watching this movie. It was 6th grade so nothing major but a big step for this little kid.