Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Wasn’t the Only Kid Who Was Scared of E.T.

Today I was asked to write a piece about unintentional horror movies. You know – movies, usually aimed at children, which were meant to be funny or cute, but got lost in translation and wound up fucking horrifying instead. There was only one I could think of.

Image credit: Juancho20002000

That’s not true. There were several I could think of – Labyrinth, for example, or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or The Wizard of Oz, or Beetlejuice, which probably wasn’t for kids, not to mention that one Winnie the Pooh where he eats the bad honey and the heffalumps come for him.

But those weren’t so bad. Even adults could see why Labyrinth is scary, for example; I mean, it’s David Bowie for Chrissakes, and as if that weren’t bad enough, at one point some of those goblins actually pull their own heads off. Also, a kid gets kidnapped. That’s the exact thing they were always warning us about. Eep.

No, E.T. the Extraterrestrial was the one film that scared me so badly I had nightmares for years. The worst part was, everyone kept gushing about how good it was and it won heaps of awards, so all the grownups insisted on watching it over and over, even as I cowered in fear.

“What’s the matter?” they’d say (as if it weren’t fucking obvious). “Don’t be afraid!” they’d say. “He’s a friendly alien!” they’d say.

My ass. There are no friendly aliens. Well, Superman, but that’s it. Look at the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind – they kidnapped people and held them captive for decades. You can’t tell me that’s an act of peace. That’s what they want you to think.

This guy is in cahoots with them.
Image credit: Romain Dubois

As my friend Page pointed out on my Facebook today, E.T. “looked like a dog turd that talked.” And he turned white like a dog turd too. WTF was up with that? I’m pretty sure if Elliot hadn’t gotten E.T. back to his home planet in time, he would have pupated or something. Then we would’ve been fucked. I mean, if he was so harmless, then why did all those government guys need hazmat suits and rifles? Oh yeah, they replaced the rifles with walkie-talkies in the 20th anniversary re-release, but I was there in the 80s, you guys, I REMEMBER THE RIFLES. I am certain he used that red laser-finger to steal kidneys. Certain.

So, about the nightmares. For years, as a child, I was plagued by nightmares that I was trapped in a supermarket at night, and E.T. was chasing me, making that weird little grunting sound he makes. He was a lot more agile in my dreams than he is in the film. In order to escape, I’d have to make it to the candy aisle, find the Reese’s Pieces, and fling them at the monster. Only then would he leave me alone, to go after the candy.

I didn’t eat Reese’s Pieces as a kid. I still don’t eat them today.