The 1990s Sci-Fi Horror Thriller More Terrifying Than Alien

By Brian Myers | Published

fire in the sky

¬†Films about alien encounters tend to be on one extreme or the other. They’re either lovable and benevolent visitors from across the galaxy, like in E.T. or Mac and Me, or their motives are to destroy humanity, a la War of the Worlds and Alien. The 1993 sci-fi horror film Fire in the Sky is one that lands somewhere in the middle, focusing on one man’s terrifying encounter with curious extraterrestrials that subject him to days of terror on board their spacecraft.

The Disappearance

Fire in the Sky follows Arizona loggers Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney), Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick), Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer), David Whitlock (Peter Berg), Greg Hayes (Henry Thomas), and Bobby Cogdill (Bradley Gregg) as they head to work in the mountains outside of the small town of Snowflake.

After a long day of work, the logging crew is leaving in their trucks when they spy an usual light above the treeline. As they get closer, they witness a UFO hovering nearby.

Travis’s curiosity gets the better of him and he leaves the safety of the truck cab to investigate. He is struck by a beam of bright light, causing his co-workers to flee in terror. As Fire in the Sky continues, the loggers report the matter to local police, who begin to believe that the now missing Travis was murdered by the other loggers.

The Abduction

fire in the sky

Fire in the Sky gets more intense when Travis appears a week later. He is naked, exhausted, and weak from an ordeal that he cannot quite remember. He winds up in the local hospital, recalling that the same light that knocked him down returned a moment later to pick him up, beaming him away from the ground.

Travis’s family hosts a party for him which triggers a flashback of events that Travis had been suppressing since he went missing. The recollection that Travis has places him aboard an alien spacecraft and subjected to a battery of exams and medical experiments by his alien captors.

The flashback sequence in Fire in the Sky is among the most horrifying scenes in sci-fi cinema, more intense than anything in Alien and scarier than any frame in Event Horizon.

The Director Didn’t Believe The Source Material

Fire in the Sky is based on the book The Walton Experience, written by Travis Walton. It’s allegedly the true account of what happened to Walton in the 1970s, though the film’s producers took a lot of creative liberties with Walton’s story and made it much more disturbing than how he depicted it in his book.

The film’s director, Robert Lieberman, was cynical of Walton’s book and believed it to be a hoax.

A Flawed Movie With One Incredible Scene

But Travis Walton is believed by many UFO enthusiasts and Fire in the Sky remains as one of the most instrumental sci-fi films of the latter part of the 20th century. The film itself is a bit sluggish, but the slow burn pays off in spades after Travis begins to recover his memory from the abduction.

That particular sequence of events is among some of the best scenes depicted in sci-fi cinema and helps to boost the film’s overall score.

Stream It Now

fire in the sky


Fire in the Sky is a 2.5/5.0-star entry, one that is definitely worth the time investment for its payoff aboard the ship.

You can stream Fire in the Sky free with Prime, or rent it On Demand with AppleTV, Prime, Vudu, and Google Play.