The McPherson Tape (1989) – Dean Alioto

The idea of alien abduction has always gotten under my skin and made me anxious, and occasionally freaked out. Other corners of the horror genre can freak me, but I can usually deal with it easily, processing it and enjoying it for what it is. But there’s something about the concept of an intelligence so far beyond our understanding that can do with us what it wants that really troubles me.

At least in the films about alien abduction there seems to be no common ground to be discovered, these beings look at us as little more than cattle or something to be studied, experimented on, impregnated whatever.

So a found footage film about a family confronting aliens, there’s bound to be something to trouble me in here. The McPherson Tape was remade in the late 90s as Incident in Lake Country, and that one, again, I knew it was fake, and just entertainment, but it struck a chord and troubled me.

I was curious to see what the original film did.

Sure they don’t have the budget that the later version had, and it’s all shot on shaky VHS, but there must be something here right? There’s really not, the aliens are so blatantly obvious as kids in masks and black jumpsuits that they lack any real threat or menace, and the acting while not as horrible as the later film definitely encroaches on the cringe worthy.

That being said, I know there is the potential for a really good found footage film to be made with this subject matter.

The ‘family’ under assault seems to swing from scared out of their gourdes to simply sitting around and playing cards. It works well at the beginning of the film to establish the evening, the characters, such as they are, their relations and more, but the further the film plays out, the swings of moods, and behaviors just seems increasingly moronic.

The spaceship that the characters come across looks tinier than the outside of the TARDIS, and you have to wonder if that is what it is, because apparently three little aliens came down in this fridge box. One gets shot – welcome to America! – and is apparently killed, only to be later resurrected and the camera is always just too slow, to catch things, be it glowing lights, flying ships, or aliens running across the roof.

It’s silly, no where near what it could have been, and while I love practical effects, I’d like to see it done today, with solid practical effects, an imaginative story, and something a little more in line with the cases that populate the UFO literature.

Maybe there isn’t a really good one out there because I haven’t made it… nah.

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