Plot: What’s it about?
In a time of horses, saloons, and gunfights, mankind was still dreaming of taking to the air, so space travel wasn’t even a thought. In Aurora, Texas however, the locals were about to have an experience that would remain legend for years to come. The year was 1987 and life was as per usual, until one fateful night that would change Aurora forever. In the darkness, a small craft emerged from the skies and touched down in the small town. This would be enough to shock anyone at that time, but the story doesn’t end there. A small alien (played by Mickey Hays) exits the ship and begins to take stock on his new surroundings. This all sends the local residents into a glut of reactions, as no one is sure what to make of this spaceman. The children are excited and love the visitor, while most of the adults are suspicious of the newcomer. But the spaceman comes in peace and does nothing to upset life for Aurora’s townspeople, so he is allowed to explore the area, both in and out of his special craft. The phenomenon proves to be too much to keep quiet, so the newspaper editor decides to turn the experience into a dynamite article. Of course, this means word of the strange visitor reaches outsiders, which could spell disaster. When the governor learns of the alien’s presence, he threatens to use violence to force it to leave. But can such a savage, rugged place learn to tolerate this unusual, but kind stranger?
This movie hasn’t garnered much attention over the years, but Anchor Bay has now made it available to a wider audience than ever before. The main attraction of The Aurora Encounter is the alien involved, as the role is played by Mickey Hays, a young man stricken with a rare, terrible disease. His ailment is progeria, which causes the aging process to accelerate at seven times the normal rate. So while he is a young man, his exterior is worn and has an old texture, so he is quite believable as the alien visitor. Of course, some might feel Hays is being exploited because of his rare condition, but he seems to having fun with the role. The rest of the cast is solid also, with such names as Jack Elam (The Cannonball Run), Dottie West (Stars Over Texas), and child star Spanky McFarland (The Little Rascals). But in the end, the performances come off as bland thanks to the poor material involved, so its all in vain here. The potential for a good movie is here, but The Aurora Encounter is simply too slow throughout, even dull at times. A few bright spots can be found and the premise is a good one, especially since this is supposed to be based on real life events, but the elements just don’t align in this one. If you’re an alien movie buff, then you might want to give this a rental, but that’s all this movie deserves.
Video: How does it look?
The Aurora Encounter is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image here is more than acceptable, but not quite as impressive as Anchor Bay can usually manage. But we can’t expect miracles with each release and in truth, the visuals here come across well and offer no cause for serious concern. The print used is clean, but has some grain and softness, though nothing all that worrisome. The image has reasonable sharpness, which is good enough in this case, as I suspect this flick was made on limited resources. The colors have a bright, consistent presence and contrast provides smooth, well balanced black levels. So not a dazzling visual effort, but one that is acceptable in all respects.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono soundtrack is decent, but some issues arise that force me to lower the score somewhat. The music and sound effects come through in fine fashion, but the dialogue presents some worries. In a lot of scenes, the vocals are mixed in too low and can be hard to understand at times. Then if you crank up the volume to balance it out, the other elements are too loud and you’re no better off than before. So you might have to pay extra close attention in those scenes, but aside from that, this is a solid mix. But it does take you out of the movie when it happens, which is always bad news. This is one of the reasons I wish Anchor Bay included optional English subtitles, but no such luck.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.