The McPherson Tape

Just when you think you've seen every obscure horror nugget on this sublunary sphere of ours, a new title smacks your capillaries.  Of course, The McPherson Tape was only "new" to me.  It was released in 1989.  The budget was so microscopic, it barely made its way to video shelves.  Hell, it barely existed.  Master footage was vaporized in a warehouse fire, so fans are lucky to see this flick at all.  What is The McPherson Tape, you may be wondering?  It's the first "found footage" film where the entire running time is allocated to mysterious surviving rushes of videotape.  Cannibal Holocaust doesn't count, even if the concept is identical.

I would admonish the makers of The Blair Witch Project for conspiring to concoct the perfect shell game, but honestly, I'd be surprised if they had knowledge of The McPherson Tape.  How many of you have heard of it?  Put your hand down, Dean.  The tape, as it were, was directed by Dean Alioto.  He also stars as Mike, the bloke behind the camera.  We're at his niece's birthday party.  Aunts and uncles are present; Grandma is here and...no friends?  She's old enough to have friends, so what gives?  Do Mommy and Daddy observe one of those weird religions?  Do they pattern their lives after Foof-Sa, Redeemer of Clits and Calisthenics?

Right, so the manly men of the family go outside to investigate a loud crash.  The crash was accompanied by blinding lights.  Before you can enunciate "I want to believe," they stumble upon a grounded spacecraft, shadowed by three peculiar beings.  The family is given a spook, and thanks to Mike's running camcorder, we find out what happened on that fateful night.  Apparently, many denizens were deluded into concluding that The McPherson Tape was really, really real.  For 1989, this is chilling stuff.  I won't tell you that the acting is 100% convincing, but I was impressed.

You have to meet the film halfway in the sense that you have to be patient to reap the most spine-tingling rewards.  If you're willing to play ball, you'll get to know the key players before they are faced with the supervention of curious, concerning circumstances.  You learn a lot about someone by observing how they respond to a crisis.  The family featured herein feels like a typical assemblage of people, and personally, I recognized elements of my own family (both immediate and extended).  I'm certain that connection assisted in my enjoyment of The McPherson Tape.  The lack of special effects didn't bother me one bit.

At 63 minutes, this sci-fi morsel doesn't get a chance to wear out its welcome.  I need to be careful not to overhype it.  I didn't have a religious experience or anything, but it's worth taking out for a spin.  Hey, here's a factoid!  None of the characters in The McPherson Tape bear the surname of McPherson.  That's a name that shows up in the 1998 remake, also helmed by Alioto.  Somewhere along the way, information was mixed up and UFO Abduction (this movie) was released onto DVD/Blu-ray as The McPherson Tape.  I dunno.


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