In the age of the sequel, the prequel, and the reboot, it seems like just about every successful film is destined to revisit the box office in some form until Hollywood drains every ounce of inspiration and money from the original. It may be hard to believe, but there was a time back in the 80’s when filmmakers would stop and think about what they were about to do with a poorly planned sequel and think better of it. Luckily for us, someone was smart enough to realize that the planned sequel to the classic film E.T., titled E.T.: Nocternal Fears, would have likely been as about as well received as the E.T. videogame.
According to Hollywood.com, the 9 page treatment co-written by Spielberg himself depicted a gang of carnivorous albino E.T.s who land on Earth seeking to find “Zrek”, (the real name of the original E.T.) after they receive his earlier distress call from the depths of space. It seems the albino E.T.s and the brown E.T.s have been locked in a race war for a long time and they are looking for an easy target. It’s only after Elliot and his friends are brutally interrogated (think about this and try not to picture a really funny version of Reservoir Dogs, I dare you) that E.T./Zrek swoops in to save the day.
By the title alone you can tell that E.T. : Nocturnal Fears was supposed to be more of a thriller than the coming of age story that was the original., but with the synopsis it seems like it would have landed strictly in B-movie territory. Some movies demand a sequel and some movies rest on their own as classics. I think the case is pretty clear when it comes to which category E.T. falls into. Luckily Stephen Spielberg eventually saw the light…
Sequels can be very dangerous because they compromise your truth as an artist. I think a sequel to E.T. would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity. People only remember the latest episode, while the pilot tarnishes.
While rumors crop up every few years that Spielberg will return to the story of E.T., lets hope that if it ever does happen, it’ll be a bit closer to the spirit of the original than the treatment for Nocturnal Fears was.
If an E.T. 2 does happen, maybe they should look to the surprisingly great E.T. sequel novel, E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet, for follow-up inspiration. Written by William Kotzwinkle in 1985, Green Planet follows what happens to E.T. after he leaves Earth, explores how he was changed by Elliot, and then sends him on a desperate journey to get back to his Earthling friend. It’s a complete 180 from Spielberg’s sequel idea, and portrays E.T. as a kind-hearted, plant-loving alien botanist.