Of things that really, truly scare and unnerve me, aliens, UFOs and being abducted are at the top of the list.
It does seem funny to me that something so outlandish and unfounded can terrify me, but it’s the truth. Monster movies don’t scare me, ghost flicks are all jump scares, and slashers are… manageable. But aliens are a true unknown threat each and every time. And of course, it doesn’t help that I fully believe in them.
The television shows Sightings and Unsolved Mysteries were major influences in instilling this fear in me. The segments they aired about UFOs caught on video and the reenactments they made about alien abductions scared me so much that sometimes I would change the channel. But, like any true horror fan who finds something that scares them, I always crept back for more.
During my youth, I also would repeatedly watch several “based on a true story” films like Fire in the Sky and Communion, as well as made-for-TV movies like Incident at Lake County (an early found footage flick about aliens attacking a family), The Shadow Men (a bland, “Men in Black” thriller), and Visitors of the Night (alien pregnancy). I remember watching them at night with my siblings asleep around me and being utterly terrified. The fact that I lived in a major city failed to calm me and never mind the claims of hoaxes for these types of cases. I was convinced that eventually a UFO would descend over my bedroom and little gray men would come to take me away.
As an older teen I recall watching Signs and revisiting Fire in the Sky. Turns out, even after years of actively avoiding alien-themed shows and movies, I was still easily frightened by them. When that alien passed through Mel Gibson’s cornfield, or when those beings began experimenting on poor D.B. Sweeney, I would sit there frozen, both frightened and captivated. Early to mid 2000’s flicks like Night Skies (about the Phoenix lights) and Silent Warnings had similar effects on me.
Now that I’m a “full grown adult”, I’m not so much abjectly terrified of aliens and UFOs as I am fascinated and unnerved by the thought of them. But still… STILL… I love to rack my nerves and mind with their possibility.
Even the odd segment on modern TV, like when Paranormal Witness aired a reenactment about the mass UFO sighting over Trumbull County, or when the Fact or Faked team tried to sneak towards Area 51*, can still spook me. The manic episode the Ghost Adventures crew recently did at Stardust Ranch in the Arizona desert? Captivating and eerie. The UFO/alien attack prank Scare Tactics has used against some of their victims? Cue me laughing uncomfortably. (*Sidebar: I’m from Las Vegas, very near Area 51, which may also hold influence over my fear, being that aliens are part of my own personal American culture.)
As for more recent horror films, there are some that still have the ability to rattle me. Dark Skies managed to reinvigorate the fear I had as a child, of aliens coming for you right in the middle of a crowded neighborhood, and while The Fourth Kind wasn’t the greatest movie ever, it’s “found footage” scenes freaked me out.
Of course, over the years, there have also been plenty of similar horrors that have failed to torment me. Alien Abduction and the VHS-S segment ‘Slumber Party Alien Abduction’ were both too unrealistic (too action-packed or very clearly hardcore science fiction), and were also bogged down by poor scripts and bad acting. And while Homecoming, Almost Human, and Altered were decent enough films, their stories used aliens in more unconventional ways, breaking away from the traditional shadowy greys and abduction cliches.
Alien and UFO stories definitely aren’t for everyone. Even I can admit how ridiculous the idea can sometimes come across. But I’m fine with that and, if the still-steady stream of films relating to them are any indication, I know I’m not the only one who harbors the fear.
With me on all this? Terrified when you can’t explain something you’ve just seen in the sky? Traumatized from watching Fire in the Sky when you were way too young and still yell at your mother about letting you do that? Let me know, I’d love to relate!
Until then though, stay out of the desert and just avoid looking up at the stars.