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FIRE IN THE SKY

FIRE IN THE SKY-United States-109 Mins. 1993

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D.B. Sweeney as Travis Walton in Fire in the Sky

D.B. Sweeney as Travis Walton in Fire in the Sky

Robert Patrick as Mike Rogers in Fire in the Sky

Robert Patrick as Mike Rogers in Fire in the Sky

James Garner as Frank Watters

James Garner as Frank Watters

Directed by Robert Lieberman

Screenplay by Tracy Tormé

Based on the book “The Walton Experience” by Travis Walton

So I bought this special edition of Rue Morgue magazine for my Android phone. The title of the edition is “200 Alternative Horror Films You Need to See”. Now for someone like me, this is an absolute gold mine. I’m always looking for new films to watch, music to listen to or books to read. I used Rolling Stone magazine‘s list of the Top 500 Albums of All Time to expand my CD collection. Anyway, to make a long story short I’m going to use this new guide to help me either pick movies to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime or to purchase in the first place. This is where Fire in the Sky comes in; it is my first review of a film that I chose from the guide. To be honest I had heard about the movie and passed it over with no interest. Well, that was just dumb. I gave the film a chance this time and I’m glad that I did.

Alien abduction stories boil down to two things; either you believe them or you don’t. Fire in the Sky is the story of Travis Walton. The film begins after Travis’ abduction and is told in flashback to Lieutenant Frank Watters (James Garner, The Rockford FilesSpace Cowboys) and Sheriff Blake Davis (Noble Willingham, Blind HorizonThe Last Boy Scout). Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick, Lovelace) and his logging crew give an account of Travis (D.B. Sweeney, Taken 2Spawn) being taken by an unknown object one night while the men are coming home from a contracted job. Watters don’t believe a word of their story and Blake doesn’t know what to believe. The town begins to treat Rogers and his crew as suspect believing they either killed Walton or they know more than what they are saying. For this alone the film could be seen as a metaphor for how people are singled out for the things they say.

Missing five days, Travis comes back home noticeably changed. Scared out of his wits; his memories of his abduction are triggered by simple everyday events (the man freaks out over syrup for crying out loud) and we see what happened to him on board the alien ship. All I will say is that if this is what really happens to a human being on board a UFO then Steven Spielberg is full of shit. The only close encounter that the aliens of Fire in the Sky want is to stick a probe up your butt and in your eye. The film only spends 10 minutes of its time on board the ship and that’s all it needs to make a lasting impression.

The cast of Fire in the Sky is a who’s who of young actors; Henry Thomas (Raggedy Man, E.T. the Extraterrestrial), Craig Sheffer (Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, Some Kind of Wonderful) and future (for the time) director Peter Berg (Very Bad Things, Battleship). Sheffer is the most impressive in his role as Allan Dallis, a logging crewman under suspicion due to his well-known and somewhat volatile relationship with Travis Walton. If there is one single actor in this world who plays the role of a douche bag and plays it well my money would have to be on Sheffer.

I tend to believe stories like this. I think it comes down to the fact that I want to see a UFO one day or perhaps even Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. There’s still that childlike part of me that gets excited over unknown things. So yes, I believe Mike Rogers; I believe Travis Walton. Truth be known, you should believe them also and hope that what happened to Travis never happens to you. Or you can choose not to believe and Fire in the Sky becomes nothing more than pointless entertainment.

One more thing: would it have killed the filmmakers to find a way to incorporate Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” into the soundtrack?

Smoke on the water,

A fire in the sky

TRIVIA

The abduction portrayed in the movie actually had nothing to do with Walton’s account. After being struck by the light, Walton remembers waking up on a table surrounded by three aliens, whom he described thusly: “Their bald heads were disproportionately large for their puny bodies. They had bulging, oversized craniums, a small jaw structure, and an underdeveloped appearance to their features that was almost infantile. Their thin-lipped mouths were narrow; I never saw them open. Lying close to their heads on either side were tiny crinkled lobes of ears. Their miniature rounded noses had small oval nostrils. The only facial feature that didn’t appear underdeveloped was those incredible eyes! Those glistening orbs had brown irises twice the size of those of a normal human eye’s, nearly an inch in diameter! The iris was so large that even parts of the pupils were hidden by the lids, giving the eyes a certain catlike appearance. There was very little of the white part of the eye showing. They had no lashes and no eyebrows.” According to Walton’s account, he leaped up from the table, grabbed an instrument on a nearby table, wielded it as a weapon, and swung it at the aliens. They filed out of the room. Walton walked into a room with a high backed chair in the middle and took a seat. Upon operating a set of controls, he deduced that he was in some sort of observatory. Suddenly, a man in a blue suit with a glass helmet came through a doorway. When Walton spoke to him, he didn’t respond; he merely guided Walton through the doorway. The wordless man lead Walton through a doorway, out of a saucer-like object, into a hangar filled with other saucers, down a hallway, and into a room that featured three more humans. Walton’s questions continued to go unanswered as they motioned for him to lie down on the table. One of the ‘humans’, a woman, placed a mask over his face and he immediately passed out. All of this was consciously recollected by Walton, and when undergoing hypnotic regression soon after the incident, he revealed no further information and stated that he felt as though delving any deeper would kill him.

The real Travis Walton and Dana Walton make cameo appearances in the scene where the townspeople discuss what to do about Travis’ disappearance.

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TAXI DRIVER: An appreciation for God’s Lonely Man

TAXI DRIVER: An appreciation for God‘s LonelyMan

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle

 

Jodie Foster as Iris

 

Albert Brooks as Tom

 

Harvey Keitel (l) as Sport

 

Leonard Harris as Charles Palantine

 

Peter Boyle (c) as Wizard

 

Cybill Shepherd as Betsy

 
 
Directed by Martin Scorsese
 
Written by Paul Schrader
 

This is a question for my blogger friends. Why do you write a blog? What is that drives you to put words onto the brightness of your computer screen? I know why I do it. I do it because I want to feel as if I am a part of something that is bigger than me. I admit that I get a little rush when I read a favorable comment or when someone likes a review I’ve written. I feel good when I check my page view count for the day and I’ve had a few hundred visitors. That means that all the times that I have sat alone in a dark room watching movie after movie has not been in vain. When I sit at my computer racking my brain for the right words to say I know that someone, somewhere will read what I have written and will appreciate it in some way or another. I am alone as I sit and type, but I am not lonely.

In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle is always alone. Even in scenes where he is surrounded by other people, he is ultimately and painfully alone. In the scene in the diner with his co-workers he is off to one side of the table, slightly separate from the rest. Again, in the diner, this time with Iris, the young prostitute that he feels a need to save, he is still alone. Why? Because his ideas, his way of thinking is so out of tune with hers that they are two people on separate sides of a desert island; always knowing that the other exists, but never making that connection.

The saddest and most heart wrenching scene in the film comes when Travis, after taking Betsy to a pornographic movie on their first date together, is on the phone in a lonely hallway pleading with her to give him another chance. As we listen the camera pans away from him. We don’t know whether to console him or put him down like a dog to ease his misery. Travis is so far out of touch with the rest of the world. He is never alone, yet he is lonely; and he is alone and he is lonely. By its own design, the job of a taxi driver is one of the loneliest jobs on the planet. A cabbie is continually in a situation where he is with people and yet they are all rank strangers to him. For the brief time that they are in his cab, they are a part of Travis’ world, but at no point in time is he ever a part of theirs. Travis Bickle truly is God’s Lonely Man.

Again, I will ask you; why do you do what you do?

TRIVIA

Various studios considered producing this film; one suggested Neil Diamond for the lead role.
 
Robert De Niro worked twelve hour days for a month driving cabs as preparation for this role. He also studied mental illness.
 
Director Martin Scorsese claims that the most important shot in the movie is when Bickle is on the phone trying to get another date with Betsy. The camera moves to the side slowly and pans down the long, empty hallway next to Bickle, as if to suggest that the phone conversation is too painful and pathetic to bear.
 
 
 
 
 
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