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Alien Abduction:

Incident in Lake County

     "My name is Thomas McPherson. We've been attacked by aliens. I think my brothers are dead. I don't think I'm going to make it either..."

--- Tommy McPherson. He's Didn't Make It.   




Gonzoid Cinema




"...You get the distinct impression that these so called 'experts' are laughing at you."


Watch it!



Best Bet:

Sights &
Alien Abduction:
Incident in
Lake County
 Original Air Date:
 January, 20, 1998
 Dick Clark Productions /
 UPN Network

A Hoax
 Roslyn McPherson

Gillian Barber

 Kurt McPherson

Aaron Pearl

 Linda McPherson

Ingrid Kavelaars

 Rosie McPherson

Katlyn Ducharme

 Melanie McPherson

Marya Delver

 Matthew Wilson

Benz Antoine

 Brian McPherson

Mike Bure

 Renee Laurent

Emmy Chriqui

 Tommy McPherson

Kristian Ayre

 Alien #1

Shari Khademi

 Alien #2

Myles Wolf

EDITOR'S NOTE: Several months after publishing this write up of Alien Abduction: Incident at Lake County, I was contacted by the man who was behind it all itching to share his story. And so, once you've completed reading this after-action report, I encourage you all to follow the linkage below to get the true story behind this elaborate hoax and how it came to be. 

To celebrate a recent pilgrimage down Highway 375 (a/k/a the Extraterrestrial Highway) to Rachel, Nevada -- home of the Little A'Le'Inn and Area 51 -- I decided to tackle this little documentary about the McPherson families' harrowing alien abduction caught on video tape. Alleging that it really happened and the McPhersons are still missing to this day, the program was aired by the UPN network in 1998 and had the nation buzzing, wondering if it was real or a hoax. Let's examine the evidence and then decide for ourselves, shall we?

It's Thanksgiving, and the McPherson clan has gathered at the family cabin somewhere deep in the backwoods of Lake County, Minnesota, for the traditional turkey dinner: the recently widowed mother, Roslyn; eldest son Kurt, his wife, Linda, and their six year old daughter, Rosie; eldest daughter Melanie, and her boyfriend, Matthew Wilson; middle son Brian, and his girlfriend, Renee Laurent; and lastly, Roslyn's youngest son, Tommy, rounds out this family unit.

Now, things start out innocently enough. The dining table is brimming with food and family chicanery, most of it courtesy of Tommy, who is being both a nuisance with his new video camera and constantly scolded by his mother for the abuse of the very same. (Seems the camera is permanently attached to the kid's left hand and is constantly on, so everything we see is from Tommy's perspective.) But just as the family sits down to eat, the power conks out. When Kurt and Brian move to check the fuse box in the garage, Tommy tags along, filming away while his oldest brother is inexplicably burned by the metal access panel. While the others laugh at his misfortune, their attention is soon drawn outside, where, down the road, the transformer perched atop the nearest power pole is angrily throwing off sparks as it seemingly self-destructs. 

After a few rational explanations are kicked around, Tommy's camera spies some eerie lights popping and flashing in the woods. Curious, the McPherson brothers decide to investigate further. Turned off during the interim, Tommy's camera flips back on to find all of the siblings in a highly agitated state. Well, you probably would be, too, if you'd just stumbled upon a UFO parked near your house. Fighting to keep things in frame and in focus, Tommy films two aliens exiting the ship, who start zapping a cow with some kind of death-ray. 

With that startling display of firepower, the men hightail it back to the house, where the women have been busy breaking out about a million candles. Along with the power being cut, the phone lines are out, too, and everything else battery operated, except for the camera -- he typed dubiously, appears to be on the fritz. (The tape was allegedly shot in 1997. I don't think cell phones were quite as prevalent as they are now.) Sensing something is really wrong, Kurt offers no explanation to the squabbling relatives as he breaks out the family arsenal. Then suddenly, the house is swamped by a high-pitched sonic attack! As everyone covers the ears, except for Rosie, who seems strangely unaffected, the noise finally subsides, replaced by the menacing patter of some thing outside the house trying to get in

After taping a flashlight to the barrel of his shotgun, Kurt takes the keys to the largest vehicle, tells everyone to sit tight, and he'll bring Brian's SUV right to the front door so they can all get away from these extraterrestrial home invaders. (And in a nice realistic touch, Mom is worried about all the food. She worked hard on that turkey, dammit!) Tommy follows Kurt outside but they spot no little gray men. Here, Tommy confesses he soiled himself when he first saw the aliens (-- and proves it by panning down to his damp crotch), only to be assured that everybody else is just as scared. (Thankfully, Tommy didn't do a quick check of everyone's crotch to see for sure.) When the truck won't start, Kurt pops the hood but before he can open it, there is a flash of light and smoke erupts from the engine. Using the gun barrel, he raises the super-heated hood to discover the battery has melted into a steaming glob of goo. Trapped, they retreat back into the house. 

The tape jumps ahead again, and we find the family gathered in the living room. Panic hasn't quite reached the hysterical stage yet, but they're real close. Roslyn is nursing another glass of wine and frightfully asks "What do they want?" The only answer she gets are the sounds of something crawling on the roof. Running back outside, Tommy trains his camera on the roof and catches a fleeting glimpse of  an alien crawling into an upstairs window. Reporting this to Kurt, he leads the way upstairs, where, after several suspenseful turns, a ray of light shoots at him from the darkness. He fires back and the light stops.

As the family regroups in the kitchen and tries to formulate a plan of action, the majority of the group comes down with a massive nosebleed. Only the McPhersons are affected, except, again, for young Rosie. (Matthew and Renee, the non-family members aren't affected, either, but Linda, Kurt's wife and Rosie's mother, is.) After everyone crams toilet paper into their noses, trying to staunch the flow, the tape jumps ahead again: Kurt and Brian are going to try and make it to the highway on foot for help. When they head to the door, a ball of light crashes into the house and raises holy hell, shrieking though every nook and cranny. It's erratic flight plan continues until it slams into Renee, knocking her down. This light blast has apparently knocked her into a coma from which they cannot awaken her. It takes some convincing to coax Brian away from her so they can make a run for the highway. Matthew decides to join this expedition, leaving Tommy in charge of the womenfolk so they can look after Renee. 

After the men leave, the tape jumps ahead about an hour, according to the camera's time stamp, but the remaining family only feel a few minutes have passed. (Meaning they've lost an hour, or experienced "missing time.") Linda is getting a little panicky, Mom's on her fourth or fifth glass of wine by now, and Melanie has unearthed yet another shotgun. Hearing gunfire from outside, Melanie and Tommy head out but see nothing. Once back inside, the power starts flickering on and off again, as if teasing them. Then, the phone starts ringing but no one is on the line. The teasing continues with rogue appliances -- ice makers and stove tops -- until the house plunges into darkness again. Then, everyone starts feeling very hot, and it gets worse when they all get a burning sensation on the back of their necks. Tommy pulls Linda's collar back, revealing a triangular burn mark. As this pain becomes unbearable, Rosie assures everyone that it will all be over in a minute. (What is with this kid?) She proves right as the pain quickly subsides. When Linda asks how Rosie knew this, before she can answer, the appliances start going haywire again. 

That's the last straw for everyone. Panic has finally given way to hysteria. When there are more gunshots heard outside, Tommy heads out and films the remains of two shotguns: one's barrel is melted down, while the other has been surgically sliced in two. There are no signs of his brothers or Matthew. He spies more weird lights in the woods and we can make out two sinister shapes approaching. Tommy orders everyone back inside. Once in, Melanie tells Tommy to put the damn camera down and help them barricade the door. He sits it on the bathroom vanity and the picture goes dark. 

A short time later, the camera comes back on and Tommy gives a tearful testimonial, recaps the days events, and prophesizes that he probably won't live to see tomorrow. He takes up his camera, but finds an empty house. His search continues to his darkened bedroom, but it's empty too. He pans around to leave and comes face to face with an alien. He's cut off in mid-sentence. The alien approaches him. He drops the camera and it reveals Tommy is frozen in a trance like state. The alien closes in and the tape stops. 

The McPhersons and they're guests haven't been seen since.

The End

So. Did this really happen? Is the tape authentic or a hoax? Well, if you stick around long enough, you'll get your answer with the closing credits. Especially the particular credits of Shari Khademi as Alien #1 and Myles Wolf as Alien #2. In fact, the actors who played the entire family are credited in the credits as well. And a director. And cinematographer. And catering services.

So, yes, it was all a hoax brought to you by executive producer Dick Clark. I guess his lack of aging could suggest that he is one of THEM, or a result of one of their genetic experiments. Debuting almost a full year before the found-footage shit-storm of The Blair Witch Project, but, remember, there was a rash of films around this time dealing with "This really happened" subjects as seen through video-taped accounts of their characters filming their own descent into madness or their eventual demise like in The Last Broadcast.

After it's premiere, UPN called for a web poll, where you could vote on whether you thought the tape was authentic or not. The network caught holy hell from viewers who didn't find it very funny but blasphemous. I guess they didn't stick around for the credits. But even without the credits, there are plenty of clues that the film is a hoax. Thanks to The X-Files and Art Bell, alien abductions and the little green/gray men's agendas have become so much a part of pop culture that everyone knows all the components that consists of one. And Alien Abduction  does it's damndest to cram ALL of them in to the point where it becomes rather ridiculous:

First is the snafu in all the electrical equipment; or the blackout phase. Second, is the nosebleeds, suggesting the family has been abducted before and been implanted with tracking devices in their noses. The aliens have upgraded, too, with more triangular shaped implants stuck in the body at strategic points for more data collection -- the triangles in their necks. There's also the lost time effect; where the victim is zapped with a bad case of jet-lag after losing the set amount of time. And speaking frankly, I'm kinda surprised they left out the most popular form alien probe -- you know the one I'm talking about, and was sorely disappointed that no one complained that their butt hurt after experiencing some of that lost time.

And then there was the whole thing with young Rosie. At the beginning of the program, they showed us pictures of all the missing people. When Rosie's picture came up, I think we were supposed to notice her HUGE, almost alien like eyes. Is Rosie an experiment of seedy alien breeding purposes? I think they wanted us to think so. Why else would she be so calm, unaffected, and clairvoyant during the proceedings?

While watching the recent alien invasion movie Signs, the little girl in that movie reminded of Rosie. A lot. In fact, I thought the little water fetishist was an alien experiment, too. I was wrong, but at least the aliens in Alien Abduction brought a ray-gun with them in case they ran into a closed door. And so, with the memories of this program drudged up, I had a hankering to watch it again. I thought I had this thing taped, and have been digging through my huge pile of unlabeled tapes ever since. Two months later, I finally found it. Well, part of it.

To try and give the McPherson's tape some credibility, the program is interrupted several times by UFO scholars, local law enforcement, and other alien abductees to try and explain what's happening. The McPherson video itself is creepily effective but the program completely falls apart during these interruptions by the *ahem* experts. The actors in the staged film hold the bluff, while these ringers appear to be on the verge of laughing at us at any moment, whether we're talking about the medical and psychological experts who've had experiences with abductees; the special-effects expert, who claims the phenomenon witnessed are impossible to fake; followed by the scientific skeptic with a pocketful of rational explanations -- who must be smart because he's got the complete set of World Book Encyclopedias stacked behind him; and last and least, the obligatory man in shadows screaming it's all a government conspiracy. And everyone of them is confirmed as bogus, too, by the film's credits.

The only exception to this is Stanton Friedman. Friedman is a nuclear physicist who was a regular on Art Bell's radio program before old Art got a little too preoccupied with the 'End of the World' around the build up to the Y2K non-event. A true man of science, Friedman believes in the existence of extraterrestrials, and has some interesting theories on why they're here and the effects of electro-magnetism and microwaves on the human body. Seems Friedman was duped into being on the program, not realizing he was the only real expert, but holds no animosity toward the producers. He still believes what he believes.

As for me? Do I believe in extraterrestrials? Yep. 

Do I believe that they're here, running amok, mutilating cattle, giving people anal probes, and in cahoots with the government trying to assimilate their way in and take over? Maaaaaybe ... My personal theory is all alien visitors are just lost, rubbernecking, or seeing the sights. I mean, it's an awful big universe. And to suggest we're the only life in it is a trifle small-minded in my book. Who knows. Somewhere, out there, somebody could be watching a mockumentary about strange creatures on the third rock from a sun somewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. Noodle that one for awhile, Boils and Ghouls.

UPDATE: Want the real truth behind this alleged tape? Click right here for the true story behind Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998) Dick Clark Productions :: UPN Network / EP: Neil Stearns / P: Dean Alioto, Paul Chitlik, Don Wollman / D: Dean Alioto / W: Dean Alioto, Paul Chitlik / C: David Pelletier / E: Scott Bloom / S: Kristian Ayre, Gillian Barber, Michael Buie, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Marya Delver, Aaron Pearl

Originally Posted: 09/27/02 :: Rehashed: 02/02/14

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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