Greetings grays, reptoids, mantids, and everything in between! Thank you as always for checking us out and we have got one heck of an episode for you guys. We are joined for this episode by two wonderful guests, Aimee and Carly from the Final Girls podcast. We had a blast recording this episode and can’t wait for you to hear it.
First and foremost we want to give a shoutout to our sponsors over at Lehigh Valley Apparel Creations, the premiere screenprinting company of the Lehigh Valley. Chris Reject and his merry band of miscreants are ready to work with you to bring to life your vision of a tshirt for your business, band, project, or whatever else it is you need represented by a shirt, sweater, pin, or coozy. Head on over to www.xlvacx.com to check them out. Thanks!
This episode we are taking a look at two films that revolve around the concept of non-voluntary abduction by non-human entities, aka alien abduction. Our films are 1993’s neo classic Fire In The Sky and 2013’s Dark Skies.
We begin by giving a shout out to Chris and LVAC, and then talking about what we’ve seen recently. Liam and Aimee talk about FX’s television series Legion, the beauty of Dan Stevens, and how the show works on levels that appeal to both comic fans and non-comic fans alike. We talk about the recent horror film The Belko Experiment, Liam complains about Skull Island while Justin mumbles nonsense, and Justin confesses to not being into The Eyes Of My Mother. The excitement about the upcoming films Raw and Life is briefly discussed.
Our discussion on Fire In The Sky begins with each of us sharing our first experiences with the film and what we thought and how it made us feel. Justin gets unnecessarily excited talking about how he has met two of the cast members of this film (D.B. Sweeney and Robert Patrick).
Justin gives a little background on the events the film claims to be based upon, and Liam talks about his personal experience seeing the movie for the first time with Justin. We talk about a common criticism of the movie, which is that the film couldn’t make up it’s mind as what it wanted to be, and discuss how the film actually succeeds as a horror film if nothing else. Sweeney’s successful portrayal of Travis Walton as a ‘likeable everyman’ is discussed. Justin talks about his personal experience with being afraid of the concept of alien abduction in horror films. The music of the film and how it helps create tension and develop mood is discussed. Roger Ebert’s review praising the set design of the inside of the alien ship is brought up and discussed, which leads into a deeper discussion of how truly “alien” the inside of the ship is, and Liam talks about how the aliens have a rather “steampunk” feel to it.
Carly talks about how much of the movie not involving aliens felt repetitive and boring, and Aimee talks about the contrast of the alien scenes and the “comedic” feeling of the movie due to it’s time of release, as well as the break from most alien abduction films which feature a lot of clean and sterile surfaces while this one has lot of dust and grime and slime and is overall dirty. Aimee then talks about the strange mischaracterization of Travis Walton as less a naïve dreamer and more a childish manbaby. Justin then spends time picking apart the idea that Fire In The Sky is only scary because it’s “based on a true story” and instead postulates that the film stands on it’s own as being scary due to a) the film deviating from what Walton claimed actually happened, and b) the dubiousness of Walton’s real life story. Walton’s actual account of what happened is briefly summarized, as is the case against Walton telling the truth. The intentions of the screenwriter of this film, Tracy Torme, in deliberately sensationalizing Walton’s account are briefly discussed. Aimee begins a discussion on sleep paralysis, and the phenomenon of sleep paralysis as the inspiration for the alien abduction phenomenon is examined in depth. Aimee recounts her personal experience with the phenomenon and Justin begins to panic. Justin then reveals his newfound appreciation of this movie and his realization that maybe the aliens in it aren’t too bad after all based on Walton’s own actions and behavior towards them. Aimee then talks about the iconic image of Travis Walton encased in the clinging rubber sheet and how that image has lasted throughout the years as truly terrifying.
We conclude our discussion of Fire In The Sky by talking how absolutely terrible the final line in the movie is and how it takes the movie all the way into Hallmark Movie Channel territory.
The second film in our episode is 2013’s Dark Skies. Justin provides a little bit of background on the movie, and Aimee talks about why she likes this movie so much. She talks about the reaction many people had to this movie and how it feels like a classic haunted house movie but the ghosts are replaced with aliens and how there are some truly frightening scenes in the film. The acting, dialogue, pacing and direction of the film are touched upon. The quality of the film overall is discussed, with some of the non-horror aspects of the film being examined. The viewer’s investment in the characters and how it makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience is examined.
Liam argues that the film simply taking a classic horror setup and replacing the ghosts with aliens is actually a weakness for the film, although he admits to there being some effective aspects of the film. Liam further points out his inability to understand the ‘creepy alien’ trope in horror films, and how he doesn’t understand why beings who are capable of traveling such far distances are acting so primitive, and how the aliens would be more frightening if the aliens were more distant and ‘inaccessible’, and that the films strongest parts are the parts not involving the aliens at all but rather the effects the aliens have on the characters. Justin talks about the difference between this film and Fire In The Sky is that FITS is started by poor decision making on the part of Travis Walton, whereas the aliens initiate the conflict in Dark Skies by invading the lives of the characters. Justin further points out the while the aliens in FITS act in a way that is hostile to human beings, it is not necessarily an ‘evil’ behavior, whereas the aliens in Dark Skies do indeed act in a way that is somewhat malicious and evil, and ultimately their motivations are unknowable, unlike the aliens in FITS who seem to be motivated by science. The sadness of the ending is discussed, as is the relationship between the two brothers. Justin talks about why alien abductions are scarier to him than the idea of a haunted house, because a haunted house can be abandoned but aliens can track people down. Comparisons to Warren Ellis’ comic book Atmospherics are made, and Justin admits to holding Liam’s hand during the infamous hallway scene in Dark Skies.
Liam points out again that the aliens accessibility is ultimately the failure of alien abduction horror films and that he would rather see an alien horror film where the aliens ultimately don’t really care about us even enough to show themselves, and that the parts of the movie that worked and were really scary were when the aliens weren’t physically present. He also points out that the creature design of the Gray type alien is beat to death and not scary anymore.
Massive thanks to Aimee and Carly for shooting the shit with us for a few hours and putting up with our weird personalities. You can check them out at www.finalgirlshorrorcast.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/finalgirlshorrorcast, Instagram at @finalgirlshorrorcast, and Twitter at @FinalGirlsHC. Again: thank you two sooooooo much for being on our podcast! As always thanks to everyone and anyone who checked this episode out, or shared a tweet/shared a post on FB/gave us love by recommending us to someone. We love you forever for listening. Any questions, comments, suggestions for movies and guests, or if you yourself want to join us for a movie viewing or even an episode, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks always to Justin Miller and Doug Tilley for their technical contributions and fliers, Mike Smaczylo for the awesome fliers, and also thanks to Josh “Baby Ruthie” Alvarez for the theme song, Chris and LVAC for the support and buttons (check them out at www.xlvacx.com), and a HUGE thank you to anyone who retweeted us or shared something on Facebook that we posted. Follow us on Twitter at @thehorrorbiz666, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/thehorrorbiz66, and remember to rate, review, and subscribe to us on ITunes. In fact, if you write us a review, email us with your mailing address and we’ll send you some free pins and stickers! Until next time…thanks!