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Horror History: When Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Was Evil in Night Skies

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Horror History: When Steven Spielberg's E.T. Was Evil in Night SkiesHere’s a little known fact for you guys… After the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, director Steven Spielberg had something a lot darker in mind for us. Read on for details and a look at what E.T. was originally supposed to be.

Spielberg was fascinated by an event which transpired back in August 21, 1955, which became known as The Kelly, Kentucky Alien Invasion.

On that evening Billy Ray Taylor and his wife were visiting the Sutton farm. Billy exited the house to go fetch water from the Sutton family well and while doing so saw what he described as an “immense, shining object” landing about a quarter of a mile from the house. It wasn’t long before he and the Sutton family were besieged by extraterrestrial invaders who were trying to break into the Sutton home. Click the link above for more on that story.

After becoming aware of the Kentucky incident, in 1980 Spielberg joined with production designer Rob Cobb to make a movie. Cobb was supposed to direct a script from John Sayles which was known as Close Encounters 2 with Spielberg producing. Later the script’s name changed to Night Skies, and effects artist Rick Baker was tapped to come up with as many as 11 new alien designs for the film. According to Cinematallica Baker was eventually given character descriptions. A few were Scar (a badass), Squirt (a cute little guy), and Buddy (a creature like the eventual E.T.).

After shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg changed his mind about the hostile alien flick. Gone were the creatures Baker had been working on, along with the Sayles script and Ron Cobb. Instead Spielberg opted for a new cute alien to be designed for a Melissa Mathison script to be directed by Spielberg. Given the budget, timing, and his commitment to John Landis on An American Werewolf in London, Baker would not be able to work on what would eventually become E.T.; that gig went to Carlo Rambaldi.

On Twitter Rick Baker finally released his designs for what would have been Night Skies, and it’s really hard not to see his fingerprints all over the eventual E.T.design. Check them out for yourself below.

Night Skies / E.T. Close Encounters 2

Night Skies / E.T. Close Encounters 2

Night Skies / E.T. Close Encounters 2

Night Skies / E.T. Close Encounters 2

Night Skies / E.T. Close Encounters 2

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

  • DavidFullam

    Always wanted to see these designs. Baker got robbed.