The Aurora Encounter (1986)

The Aurora Encounter (1986)

The Aurora Encounter (1986)

Directed by Jim McCullough Sr.

Starring: JACK ELAM (Charlie Henkins), CAROL BAGDASARIAN (Alain Peebles), PETER BROWN (Sheriff Temple Ferguson)

Mickey Hays was a 14-year-old boy with Progeria, a rare degenerative disease that caused him to age at a fast rate. He had a wish to be a movie star; this rare sci-fi family film is the result. This film is apparently based on a true incident that occurred in Aurora, Texas in 1897. A newspaper report from the Dallas Morning Post in April 1897 claims a spacecraft crashed into a water tower and the remains of a martian were found amongst the ruins. The alien was given a proper Christian burial.

Aurora Encounter is directed by Jim McCullough Sr, who also produced Elam in Creature From the Black Lake (stay tuned for this review) and a film called Mountaintop Motel Massacre (let’s pray I find this one too…). In the movie Aurora is a small town where the local newspaper is run by Alain Peebles, who is also the local schoolteacher and builder of flying bicycles in her spare time. Alain goes to interview a local widow who spies a strange alien creature playing peeping tom whilst she undresses one night. She decides to run an article in the newspaper about the interplanetary visitor. The newspaper’s sales are down and Alain hopes the sensational article will help the paper out of financial difficulty.

One of Alain’s many annoying students witnesses a spaceship and it’s driver whilst playing in the woods. This is the first time we get a really good look at the creature, which is simply the aforementioned sick kid with prosthetic pointy ears a la Mr. Spock. The girl returns to school with one of the alien’s magical crystals as evidence of her wild encounter.

Another character who comes into contact with the alien is drunken Charlie Henkins, an elixir salesman played by grizzly veteran actor Jack Elam. One night whilst playing a game of checkers by himself a UFO lands in his backyard. The alien enters Charlie’s house where he sculls a few bottles of elixir and plays checkers with Charlie. The alien can even move the pieces of the game with mind power. This is about as good as this movie gets unfortunately. This scene is mildly amusing but all is downhill from here.

Alain goes to see the local governor to get a comment on the recent UFO sightings. The governor (Spanky McFarland from The Little Rascals) is not impressed and sends out a Texas Ranger to expose the supposed fraudulent story.

The sightings continue and the little girl accompanied by a couple of friends goes in search of the alien critter. They accidentally fall down into a mineshaft and are rescued by the alien, whom they signal with the magic crystal. Their story upon return prompts Alain and a few other believers to signal the alien to land in the main street of town. After a while the craft does appear to the astonishment of the town’s skeptics. The little alien descends his craft to make a friendly gesture to the town’s people. The Texas Ranger, being the callous, heartless bastard he is, shoots the little bugger dead. The townspeople give the alien a good Christian burial, end of story.

Not a great movie, not even a good movie. It’s pretty boring and only has a few scenes even worth watching it for. It seems likely this film was an attempt to cash in on the E.T/friendly alien craze of the early eighties, but is extremely pale in comparison to E.T… or even Mac & Me. The ending to the film is a real downer also, and seems a little harsh for a kiddie flick. Apparently DJ Shadow has used samples from this flick on some of his records, but that still isn’t reason to see it. Best to stay clear.

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