The McPherson Tape: A VHS Alien Abduction

The McPherson Tape: a hoax, or actual proof of an alien attack? Looking at the videos, you’d probably think the answer is obvious. But as these things go, not everyone is convinced that this isn’t part of some kind of strange agenda.

Since the early 90s, many have claimed the original “McPherson Tape” is real evidence of aliens on Earth.

The McPherson Tape (1989)

“The uncut video footage you are about to see contains the most important evidence yet made public regarding this phenomenon. This evidence is from the Northwoods, Connecticut, U.F.O CASE 77.”

Directed by Dean Alioto and released direct-to-video in 1989, the original McPherson Tape is actually titled U.F.O. Abduction, and it features the Van Heese family, not the McPhersons. A found-footage film, it was shot onĀ a tiny budget of $6,500, according to Alioto.

The plot is basic: During a nighttime birthday party, the power goes out, and some of the family headĀ outside to check the fuse box. What they find is a spaceship out in the woods, and a group of gray aliens.

So they return to the house and things calm down, until something appears at the window. From there, it’s about what you’d expect from an alien invasion.

Overall, the film is a bit dry, but I’m guessing that was the point. It’s like a 1980s version of the Blair Witch Project. I skimmed through it, to be honest.

So, case closed regarding its authenticity, right? Well, in the early 90s, apparently a bootlegger got hold of the film, stripped its opening and the end credits, and distributed it as “real” footage of an alien invasion. A hoax was born.

Alien Abduction: Incident at Lake County (1998)

Now this? I watched this. I watched all of it. Pulled in by the VHS interference and captivated by the terrible acting of the “experts” (particularly the “Video EFX Editor”), I couldn’t look away.

It’s a “documentary” (perhaps an early ancestor of Discovery’s recent docudramas) that allegedly contains footage of an alien abduction, or attack, that occurred on November 27, 1997.

I’d describe it as a television-friendly remix of the original 1989 film, although this time the victims are named McPherson. Interspersed between the footage are segments with comments by experts and former alien abductees.

I thought there were some interesting ideas, here. One of the experts explains the possibility that the daughter was possessed by the aliens, which I thought was creepy. Abductee Jeane Sutton claims they’ve all been abducted before. “They might not know it,” she says, “but this isn’t the first time for any of them.” Intriguing!

The alleged footage ends as Tommy McPherson has a close encounter with an alien in his bedroom. They also claim to use “recently declassified military technology” — the best kind of technology — to restore lost footage, showing a downed alien. I thought that was a nice touch.

All in all, I liked it, in the same way I like cheesy science fiction b-movies.

Five out of five Torgos.

The “Real” McPherson Tape

Neither of these two videos inspire much confidence as far as validity goes. The 1998 docudrama is poorly acted, they have questionable special effects, and let’s face it: if we truly had this sort of footage of a real alien attack, that would blow the doors wide open as far as disclosure and “proof.”

However, that’s the funny thing about this story. Many believe that the two released videos, both the 1989 and especially the 1998 renditions, were released only to obfuscate the existence of the real McPherson Tape. Or that, perhaps, the original 1989 film is real, and only dressed up as a film to hide the reality.

The truth is, as they say, hidden in plain sight. Even in Incident at Lake County (at 42:35), one of the so-called abductees says, “If it’s not real, I just think, you know, seeing how clever the disinformation machine is — you know, alien abduction faked for TV special — so it makes us all look like a bunch of wackos.”

What do you believe?

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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