Theme Song: None.
Interesting Dated References: Having aluminum gutters in 1890.
Best Line: With good cause — none.
Social Context: Well, it certainly isn’t about social acceptance or looking past our differences. In fact, it almost seems against that since the villain in the movie faces no repercussions for his actions. There is also some weird subtext going on about men and women being equal.
Summary: Aurora Encounter came about shortly after E.T., during the rush of friendly space alien movies. Although Aurora Encounter lacked the corporate sponsorship of E.T. and Mac & Me, it certainly attempted to align itself with them. The main thing that differentiates Aurora Encounter from the others is that it uses a human with a degenerative disease as its alien, instead of a person in a costume. Now to some this might seem like exploitation and to others it might seem like giving a child with a disease the chance to act. But I’m not here to argue ethics so I’m going to glaze over this whole issue.
Aurora Encounter stars well-worn Western actor and lazy-eye enthusiast Jack Elam as a drunk old man in the Old West. Yes, for some reason Aurora Encounter takes place in the 1890’s. Elam plays a curmudgeonly old drunk who gets a strange visitor one night. That strange visitor is played by Progeria-sufferer Mickey Hays who either was forced to play in the movie by his parents or is really just not a good actor. Look, I understand the kid had a terrible degenerative-accelerative aging disease, but I’m betting the parents forced him into this. He doesn’t seem into it at all and his range of emotion seems rather limited. I understand he has a disease and that might affect his ability to perform, but there’s no way he is enjoying himself at all. It should be noted he looks like a miniature Chris Elliott. The two play checkers together and get drunk on elixir. The alien character (who is never given a cute nickname) gets drunk and is visibly intoxicated as he gets back into his spaceship. Elam plays his role as best he can but seems a little disinterested, as well. Maybe the shitty writer/director/producer failed to inspire the cast in anyway.
So Elam takes his story to the newspaper reporter/heiress lady, who then investigates a few other reports and decides to tell the governor. He becomes determined to silence her. Then a bunch of uninteresting school children stuff happens. There really is like 35 minutes of filler in here. Okay, so little girl with the really bad red wig on gets her three friends to go with her to investigate the place where she saw the alien land. They fall into a cave and look at Satanic and Aztec things. I guess they just wanted it to look scary and amazing at the same time. I remember when I was young there were these woods by my house and my sister and I became convinced Satanic rituals happened there. Looking back on it now I realize it was probably just metalheads getting drunk and listening to ‘Scorps, since the only thing there was a couch, a bunch of beer cans, and a bunch of lame pseudo Satanic graffiti.
Okay, the three girls are rescued by the alien after the worst fucking acting sequence I’ve ever seen. They walk around this cave and touch the walls and paintings of Aztec shit going “wow” for like ten fucking minutes. Oh, and because they are children they instantly learn to accept the alien guy for saving them. And we see half of his ship fly away. In fact, you never see the whole ship in the movie. Just sections. I’m guessing budget restrictions came into play here. Even for a family movie the acting and budget cutting in here is horrible. I’m trying to suspend belief super hard and I just can’t. Did you know they had aluminum gutters in 1890? Neither did I. I was also going to mention there was a long “hey there little spaceman” monologue in this movie that was used by DJ Shadow once, but then I remembered no one cares about DJ Shadow because it isn’t 1996 anymore.
So the townspeople all get crystals and try to signal the alien to land. When he finally does he gets shot by the governor’s henchman. Then it’s insinuated that he attempts to fly away, but crashes. The editing is so tight and confusing that you can’t tell what’s going on. Then the townspeople bury the alien. This is when children’s movies still taught tough life lessons like “don’t be different or you will die.” I should mention that the governor was played by that guy who was Spanky in The Little Rascals.
Poster and Box Art The original poster art for this is typical for a mid-80s family movie. Vague details about plot and characters are included in an effort to stir up some fantasy or amazement. Of course once you saw the movie you were instantly let down.
Availability: Available on DVD, but no word on if it’s a restored version or just some shitty tape conversion.