Now in theaters everywhere is the Ridley Scott-produced found footage alien abduction thriller Phoenix Forgotten, which is based on the shocking, true events of March 13th, 1997, when several mysterious lights appeared over Phoenix, Arizona. This unprecedented and inexplicable phenomenon became known as “The Phoenix Lights”, and remains the most famous and widely viewed UFO sighting in history.
We caught up with director Justin Barber who revealed to us his favorite UFO-themed films, which include a few gems and surprises.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Seems like the obvious answer, but still the right one for me. I love the scope, the balance of wonder, fear, and optimism. François Truffaut plays a french UFO scientist? Heaven. The final act is still an unmatched spectacle in cinema. Those five musical notes will haunt my mind for the rest of my life.
Does this count as a UFO movie? I don’t care, it’s close enough. One of my all-time favorite films. The scene where (spoiler) Mastrantonio almost dies is a tour-de-force from everyone in it and Cameron. Saw the movie when I was a kid and that scene was one of the first times I was really moved by cinema.
Like the two above this movie manages to be an emotional drama, and also a cool sci-fi movie. The science in the movie is fascinating but also accessible – in the great Carl Sagan way. You look up at the stars differently after having seen this movie.
Fire in the Sky
This movie is just terrifying. In ways the story is thin, it feels like everything in it is just there to support the visceral alien abduction scenes… But it nails the terror of what that might feel like. It’s a great Halloween movie for me. Best title ever also!
This one is a little more psychological, based on a book written by an ‘Abductee’ with Christopher Walken playing the author. It’s not a traditional UFO adventure, but there is one scary scene that still gives me shivers. For that alone, the movie is worth checking out – Peekaboo Grey. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. Bonus points for a film score by Eric Clapton.
Best new UFO movie I’ve seen lately, for a lot of the same reasons I love Contact. But I love the score, the director’s eye and the realization of the creatures. A great movie for sound, and for acting.
A non-traditional UFO movie, but it should count as one. These characters are (spoilers) in the grip of an alien force and aboard a giant structure floating in space. It’s like a more gothic, Gaiman-esqu version of The Matrix.
People crap on Signs, but I am Signs defender. I like the idea of an invasion movie from the isolated perspective of this family out in the country. And the scene where Mel Gibson has to cry and eat at the same time lands for me.
Seeing this movie in a theater as a high school kid was probably the best day of my life. I saw it like three times. Get up there and whoop ET’s ass! I mean, come on! The Top Gun aspect of it is great, and no matter how cynical Americans become we will always have Pullman’s speech.
Men in Black
A slick take on this piece of real UFO folklore. Agent J is like James Bond for nerds. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are amazing together, great gadgets and creatures. I actually really like the third one too!
Honorable Mention: Mars Attacks
Phoenix Forgotten tells the story of three teens who went into the desert shortly after the incident, hoping to document the strange events occurring in their town. They disappeared that night, and were never seen again. Now, on the twentieth anniversary of their disappearance, unseen footage has finally been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition. For the first time ever, the truth will be revealed…