'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'

An honest attempt to explore a phenomenom reported in Nome, Alaska, The Fourth Kind walks a fine line between science fiction and reality. Videotaped interviews with a psychologist (played by Milla Jovovich) and her patients are recreated as she employs hypnosis to dig into disturbing memories. Our own Jenni Miller found it "pretty damn scary" while Todd Gilchrist questioned the validity of the "actual" footage and felt the movie unraveled quite easily. Personally, I appreciated the effort by director Olatunde Osunsanmi to make a different kind of UFO movie, even though his concept of mixing documentary-style footage with high-gloss narrative didn't entirely succeed. You can decide for yourself when The Fourth Kind opens in theaters tomorrow.

Aliens and UFOs are a common sight in sci-fi movies, though most often they come in peace or come out fighting. Abductions, the so-called "fourth kind" of alien encounter, are relatively rare. Television shows have explored this arena much more than films, but here are the top ten alien abductions in sci-fi movies; it's another very subjective list, to be sure, so your recommendations, additions, and disagreements are welcome.

1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Presenting a more "fantastical" kidnapping, little Barry (Cary Guffey) is stolen right from under the nose of his frantic mother (Melinda Dillon). Steven Spielberg made this a heavy-duty workout for his special effects team, from the rolling clouds to the suddenly animated toys and kitchen appliances. The best special effect, though, was the look on little Barry's face when he sees his abductors. Close that door, boy!


2 .The X Files
Presenting a more "realistic" kidnapping, Mulder's sister is taken in a scene that is chilling, mysterious, and mesmerizing. Fans of the series knew that this moment helped to define the life that Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) would lead. It haunted his every decision, made him second-guess himself eternally, and placed an unreasonable burden of guilt upon his shoulders. The scene, as directed by Rob Bowman, lived up to that expectation, and was thrilling to boot.

3. Fire in the Sky
Striking a good balance between the realistic and fantastical side of things, the movie features a strong cast (James Garner, Robert Patrick, D.B. Sweeney, Peter Berg) in a fictionalized telling of a story "based on real life." Ordinary working men claim that one of their number was abducted by aliens, which no one believes, until he comes back. A strong, underrated film that deserves a second look.

4. The Forgotten
Super-freaky and super-weird, yet contagiously watchable. Julianne Moore plays a grieving mother. Everyone else says she has "memory problems," claiming she remembers things that didn't happen. She, however, feels perfectly sane, even though not everything is quite right, and then her memory starts playing tricks on her. Why?

5. The Last Starfighter
Sneaky! Alex (Lance Guest) is gently abducted by an alien (Robert Preston), who claims that he is merely "recruiting" the video game whiz to participate in a battle against an evil race. You say "recruiting," I say "kidnapping." It all works out for the best, and Alex returns to Earth none the worse for wear, and even signs up for a second engagement when duty calls, but it still started with an abduction.

6. Flight of the Navigator
Although it falls into the fantasy / adventure / family film category, Navigator revolves around an alien abduction, though it takes a good while before anyone realizes that's what happened. David falls unconscious while looking for his brother in the woods, and wakes up years later. Like The Last Starfighter, everything works out for the good; unlike that movie, Navigator has a more "realistic" abduction, in that the abductee initially doesn't remember what happened.

7.Night Caller From Outer Space (AKA The Night Caller)
Hailing from Britain and director John Gilling in 1965, this black and white gem features John Saxon as a scientist investigating the remnants of a meteorite. It turns out that an alien race has sent an emissary to find young women for purposes best not described, and the alien starts kidnapping the unwilling ladies by night. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it's a crackling good dramatic thriller.

8. War of the Worlds
Spielberg showcased the dark side of alien invasion with his remake, banishing all thoughts of smiling little extraterrestrials. Though the aliens were more intent on simple death and destruction, they did abduct certain humans so they could suck their brains out. Yeesh.

9. Xtro
Really quite competent, as a seedy, low-grade, b-movie trash flick ought to be. A man is whisked away by aliens and "returns" three years later, causing a reign of bloody havoc to ensue. Admittedly, it's more memorable for the views of a naked Maryam D'Abo than its depiction of an alien abduction, but it's a neat way to start the story, and it proves that alien abductions make people more violent.

10. Mars Needs Women
If you want ridiculous, this is the movie for you! Tommy Kirk is a Martian, Yvonne Craig is a doctor, and the whole thing is intolerably dull, but it makes the list because it has one of the great titles of all times. Also, it shows that aliens want to be lovers, not fighters.

categories Sci-Fi