“There is more evidence for UFO’s than there is for Jesus!” This is a claim that was said to me not too long ago, and the main evidence that was appealed to was the movie The Fourth Kind. For those not familiar with the movie, IMDB.com classifies it as a mystery, sci-fi, thriller with this short description :
A thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up.
Wikipedia gives it this description:
The film purports to be based on real events occurring in Nome, Alaska in 2000, in which psychologist Dr. Abigail Emily “Abbey” Tyler uses hypnosis to uncover memories from her patients of alien abduction, and finds evidence suggesting that she may have been abducted as well. The film has two components: dramatization, in which professional actors portray the individuals involved, and video footage purporting to show the ‘actual’ victims undergoing hypnosis. (At some points in the film, the “actual” and dramatized footage is presented alongside each other in split-screen.) Throughout the film, Abbey is shown being interviewed on television in 2002, two years after the abductions occurred.
Why it even stars Milla Jovavich as Dr. Abigail Tyler during the re-enactment scenes, so you know it’s legit! In fact, it says “based on a true story”, which means that everything in it is fact, correct?
BASED ON A TRUE STORY
I’m a big movie buff, and a sucker for movies that claim to be based on a true story. Many times, the true story is even crazier than the movie. For instance, many details were summed up or even skipped for Catch Me If You Can. And from what I’ve heard, the German movie Europa Europa (about a Jewish boy who escaped the holocaust by masquerading as an elite Nazi German) is even crazier than the movie.
But then you get movies that claim to be based on a true story simply for marketing purposes. And in some cases, they try to cover or hide the true story. From what I can tell, this seems to happen more in the horror genre. 3 of the most popular movies that do this are The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and The Fourth Kind.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Even the movie poster says “What happened is true”. I’ve even heard of people who go so far as to claim that they’ve seen where this happened at. Except even the people behind the movie admit that they only marketed it as a true story to get a wider audience. Even the movie’s trivia on its page on IMDB.com says that it is not based on a true story:
Contrary to popular belief, this film is not a true story. It was filmed from 15 July 1973 – 14 August 1973, while the opening narrative claims that the real events took place on 18 August 1973, so it would be impossible for the film to be based on actual events which had not happened at the time of filming.
The closest it comes to being based on a true story is being partially inspired by Ed Gein, who is also the same person that Hannibal Lector and Norman Bates were partially based on. And Ed Gein is closer to being a sum of Leatherface, Hannibal Lector, and Norman Bates, than he is to anyone of them.
THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
The book that the movie is based on says “The Amityville Horror: A True Story.” The writers have continually stated that it is a true story. And just like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there are people who believe it today that it is a true story. However, in a lawsuit in 1979, it was determined that “a large extent of the book is a work of fiction.” Additionally, this story has been debunked by several, including Snopes (who cites 4 sources for their article).
The truth behind The Amityville Horror was finally revealed when Butch DeFeo’s lawyer, William Weber, admitted that he, along with the Lutzes, “created this horror story over many bottles of wine.” The house was never really haunted; the horrific experiences they had claimed were simply made up. Jay Anson further embellished the tale for his book, and by the time the film’s screenwriters had adapted it, any grains of truth that might have been there were long gone. While the Lutzes profited handsomely from their story, Weber had planned to use the haunting to gain a new trial for his client. George Lutz reportedly still claims that the events are mostly true, but has offered no evidence to back up his claim.
THE FOURTH KIND
This brings us back to the evidence that was cited as being greater than the evidence for the existence of Jesus. This is a more recent movie that claims to be “based on actual case studies” as well as claiming to use “never-before-seen archival footage that is integrated into the film.” This one you have to dig a little more to find the truth. It gets a little harder to find the truth because the movie doesn’t have the usual “The events and persons depicted in this film are fictitious…” or “The film is based on the real events…” in the credits. The “true story” of The Fourth Kind is that there is no record of the doctor in the film ever visiting Alaska nor does she appear on any records in the state’s licensing board or Psychiatrist Association. Nor is there any record of the doctor having lived or worked in the area the movie claims that it happened in. Even more, the “archival footage” is actually acted out by professional actors. Why even on the full cast list of the movie on IMDB.com, you find this:
Charlotte Milchard …Dr. Abigail Tyler
To promote the film, Universal Studios came out with a news site in regards to it, but ended up being sued for fraud by the Newspapers that Universal claimed to have written news articles. Even the Anchorage Daily News discredited the movie!
According to promotional materials from Universal, the film is framed around a psychologist named Abigail Tyler who interviewed traumatized patients in Nome.
But state licensing examiner Jan Mays says she can’t find records of an Abigail Tyler ever being licensed in any profession in Alaska.
No one by that name lived in Nome in recent years, according to a search of public record databases.
Still, there are shreds of “evidence.”
Try Googling “Abigail Tyler” and “Alaska.” You’ll get a link to a convincingly boring Web site called the “Alaska Psychiatry Journal” — complete with a biography of a psychologist by that name who researched sleep behavior in Nome. Except the site is suspiciously vacant, mostly a collection of articles on sleep studies with no home page or contact information.
Another site, http://www.alaskanewsarchive.com, features a story from the Nome Nugget about Tyler moving to Nome for research. The problem? The story is credited to Nugget editor and publisher Nancy McGuire, who says it’s baloney and she never wrote it.
Both the news site and the medical journal site were created just last month, according to domain-name research sites.
Ron Adler is CEO and director of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Denise Dillard is president of the Alaska Psychological Association. They said this week they’ve never heard of the Alaska Psychiatry Journal, or of Abigail Tyler.
To further prove the point, from IMDB.com’s FAQ on the movie, under the question “Is the movie actually based on a true story?”:
The film’s trailer states that the story is based on “actual case studies,” but did not specify any cases. As a result, much speculation has arisen regarding the search for documented evidence from the actual cases and whether Dr. Abigail Tyler is a real person or a fictional character for use in an internet viral marketing campaign. On September 1, 2009, an investigation by the Anchorage Daily News examined the validity of the film’s premise, and its relation to actual disappearances that have occurred in and around the town of Nome. The investigation found no specific events to back up the claims in the film and also revealed that unsolved deaths in Nome are no more frequent than any other small Alaskan town. The consensus is that the high rate of alcoholism combined with the harsh landscape surrounding Nome accounts for a majority of disappearances (just as in other remote areas). On November 12, 2009 Universal Pictures agreed to a $20,000 settlement with the Alaska Press Club “to settle complaints about fake news archives used to promote the movie.” Universal acknowledged that they created fake online news articles and obituaries to make it appear that the movie had a basis in real events.
And from IMDB.com’s Trivia page on the movie, you find the following:
The movie’s hoaxed interviews have angered the families of real missing persons in and around Nome, Alaska, for trivializing their loss. Melanie Edwards, Vice President of Kawerak Inc. (an organization representing tribal peoples in Alaska), described the movie as “insensitive to family members of people who have gone missing in Nome over the years”. Universal has refused to discuss the movie with that organization or with local journalists.