When you think about it, it seems like aliens have always been abducting Earthlings. You can find references to similar behavior in mythology all over the world. There are shockingly similar accounts of incidents decades removed from one another. And now the new movie "The Fourth Kind" (opening Friday) promises perhaps the most frightening look at what its producers call "fact-based" cases from Nome, Alaska.
However "real" the cases, the world of fiction runs rampant with great alien abduction tales, and here are ten great examples.
‘Secret Invasion’Last year’s Marvel Comics mega-event dealt largely with an invasion by the shape-shifting Skrull Empire. However, that invasion was presaged by a running series of revelations regarding which characters had already been abducted and replaced. In many ways, it riffed on non-abduction classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (which just had the humans taken over on their home planet). However, there was a later payoff to the replacements when the kidnapped characters finally returned.
‘Taken’"Taken" boasted a pretty impressive pedigree for a Sci-Fi Channel mini-series. The 2002 production had no less than Steven Spielberg as an Executive Producer; episode directors included Tobe Hooper and genre TV stalwart Félix Enríquez Alcalá. Epic in scope, the narrative followed three families through five decades, demonstrating how each one had been affected by extraterrestrial contact. It’s revealed within the story that over 43,000 Earthlings were abducted to further an experiment that would ultimately create a human/alien hybrid. That hybrid, Allie, played by Dakota Fanning, winds up departing Earth with the aliens by series end.
‘Martian Manhunter’One of the original seven members of the Justice League of America, J’onn J’onnz, Martian Manhunter, is the least known to the general public. Though he did finally make it into the animated “Justice League” of this decade, he’s still outside the mainstream. That’s too bad, because his arrival on Earth is a clever twist on the alien abduction formula. J’onn, the last of his kind, was accidentally brought to Earth by a transmission experiment of one Professor Erdel. The shock of seeing J’onn arrive gave Erdel a fatal heart attack. The shape-shifting alien decided to learn about his new home, eventually becoming a police detective and super-hero before co-founding the Justice League.
The X-Men’s ‘Brood Saga’In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, it seemed like the X-Men were constantly being kidnapped by one alien race or another. The Sh’iar, the Badoon, and yes, The Brood all had a hand in stealing away the X-Men from time to time. Perhaps the Brood Saga is the most commonly remember, as it really had the longest arc of trajectory. Playing out between issues #154 and #167, the storyline saw the X-Men battling the Brood, “Aliens”-like aliens that sought to implant the mutants with their eggs in order to create a superior version of their own race. The battles raged on Earth and in space for months until the Brood homeworld was destroyed. Upon their return to Earth, the X-Men and their alien allies The Starjammers managed to save an implanted Professor Charles Xavier.
‘V’They came in peace, and they came hungry. "V", reimagined this year for an ABC series, began life in 1983 as a mini-series event on NBC. A classic TV moment emerged when we got to see what the “visitors” were for the first time: rodent-devouring reptilians hiding under human guise. The real kicker was that the Visitors weren’t content with our furry friends; they began stockpiling humans as the new intergalactic taste sensation. The first mini was a huge hit, leading to sequel “V: The Final Battle”, a short-lived DC Comics series, and a short-lived weekly TV series. Frankly, we can’t wait to see how the big reveal plays this time around, or if the nature of the Visitors has changed entirely.
John Carter, Warlord of MarsIt’s debatable whether John Carter’s first trip to Mars is abduction, as it’s accomplished by astral projection. However, Carter is certainly unceremoniously retrieved on later occasions. For those unfamiliar with Carter, he’s the OTHER huge creation by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer behind Tarzan. Carter made his bones in a series of pulp adventures wherein he marries a princess of Mars and battles all manner of alien menaces. Many attempts have been made in recent years to get John Carter on screen, and it seems as if it may finally happen. Martian intervention, anyone?
‘Fire in the Sky’Though critical reaction to the 1993 film based on Travis Walton’s account of his own alleged alien abduction is, to put it politely, mixed, many agree that the sequence detailing Walton’s incarceration aboard the alien spacecraft is one of the more harrowing scenes of that type on film. Credit should go to screenwriter Tracy Torme and director Robert Lieberman, as they were called upon to punch up Walton’s original account. While the film as a whole might not be the greatest viewing experience on this planet, many concur that the experimentation scenes are genuinely frightening.
Whitley Strieber already had a name as the writer of “Wolfen” and “The Hunger” when, in 1987, he published his account of his own interaction with “visitors”. Though he has stated many times over the years that he didn’t necessarily consider the encounter to be one with extraterrestrials, the sketches that document his experience have fed into the public notion of “greys”. Regardless, since that time, Strieber has become a prolific writer and speaker in terms of related phenomenon, touching on Roswell in his novel “Majestic” and discussing the outpouring of correspondence he has received about his visit in “The Communion Letters”.
‘The X-Files’ While “The X-Files” as a whole is shot through with stories across the genre spectrum, perhaps nothing informed the “mythos” of the series so much as the tri-cornered-concept of alien contact, alien cover-up and alien abduction. For years the central pillar of the series is Agent Fox Mulder’s search for his sister, Samantha, whom he believed to have been abducted. While the answer to Samantha’s fate is later resolved with a possibly somewhat different outcome, other characters through the tenure of the series are unquestionably taken, including, for a time, Agent Mulder himself.
‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’
If you’re going to be abducted by aliens, it might as well be friendly aliens. And it might as well be in one of the best films to ever handle the subject. Steven Spielberg was on his way to being STEVEN SPIELBERG when he directed this science fiction classic in 1977. One of the interesting bits here is that all of the people that are “abducted” eventually return unharmed. Another intriguing notion is that the government doesn’t’ attack the alien mothership, but rather uses tools such as music to communicate with it. This of course leads to designated delegates boarding the mothership on behalf of Earth. It was an alarmingly refreshing departure from the days of “Earth vs. The Flying Saucer”, and it’s vaguely sad to see that most human/alien tales are about conflict rather than communication. Then again, maybe we’d be more willing to talk if they’d stop with the abducting. And the probing.