26 December 2017



'Keeds! You must make a movie with keeds!'

Francois Truffaut to Steven Spielberg, after seeing him direct Cary Guffey on the set of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.

I re-watched this childrens' classic and perennial festive favourite yesterday- Christmas Day- as it's as much a part of Crimbo as brandy butter, cranberry sauce and Father Ted and the priests getting lost in what's usually considered to be 'Ireland's biggest lingerie department, you know...!'

It won't be the only Steven Spielberg film on the box this Christmas, either. I grew up watching his INDIANA JONES movies on television every single festive season without fail, and the aforementioned CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND would normally be on then as well.

Speaking of which, I remember the Christmas years ago when I watched this epic alien movie, starring Richard Dreyfuss and the above-mentioned Francois Truffaut, very late at night. It was so late at night, in fact, that the TV wag who decided to rearrange the letters of the title to read CLOSE ENOCUNTERS probably assumed that no-one was even watching and his little gag would go unnoticed...!

Now that I'm all grown-up myself, some of my favourite films of all time are Steven Spielberg movies. Namely, DUEL, JAWS, JURASSIC PARK and SCHINDLER'S LIST, a massive, massive undertaking starring Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and the delicious Ralph Fiennes that most other film-makers probably wish they'd thought of making first.

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL is the story of the cutest alien since, well, I don't know when, who accidentally gets left behind after a team of his fellow extra-terrestrials have been investigating a forest on the outskirts of a Los Angeles suburb. Pursued by pesky humans, the ship is forced to beat a hasty retreat, not realising that they've left one of their number below. Or maybe they did know and they were only too glad to be rid of him, lol...!

Seeking shelter in a nearby shed, the oddly-shaped but endearing little guy befriends the kids whose family's shed it is. The scene is now set for laughs, tears, shocks and a few downright heartbreaking moments as well as the kids come to terms with the sad fact that friends come and go but not even visitors from Outer Space are forever...

The three kids, Elliott, his older brother Michael and their sweet, chubby baby sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore in her debut feature film), have already had to come to terms with more than their fair share of crap in their short lives. Their Dad has recently buggered off to Mexico, deserting them and their Mum to- presumably- go and drink tequila with a bevy of dusky-skinned beauties. The lousy, rotten swine. Hope he gets diarrhoea from all the tequila...

Mom is really struggling to cope with her brood, the house and a job as well, leading to the kind of shoddy parenting that allowed poor little Cary Guffey to leave his house in the middle of the night- and in the middle of an alien invasion!- and wander off into the desert in CLOSE ENOCUNTERS. Well, if some cheeky TV techie can do it, why can't I, lol...?

This slipshod carelessness, ball-dropping and parental negligence is what keeps Mom from discovering the alien in her son's bedroom until the kids have had more than enough time to form a lifelong bond with him. Elliott in particular is devoted to the odd-looking guy and we quickly establish that he feels E.T.'s feelings, so close are the pair of buddies.

That's all well and good when things are going well for the unlikely twosome but when E.T.
suddenly gets sick on a trip to the forest to attempt to make contact with his space-ship, it means that Elliott starts to feel poorly too. When they return home from the abortive trip to the woods to find the gummint (one of whose members is played by the cute Peter Coyote), in full possession of the house, things suddenly take a turn for the worse. Much, much worse...

The scene where E.T. hides in the toy closet from Mom has been wonderfully parodied in THE SIMPSONS, with a mentally-incapacitated Mr. Burns in the E.T. role. The bicycles-flying-past-the-moon thing has been copied a time or two as well and is also the logo for AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT, Steven Spielberg's own production company.

I love the scene where Elliott tries to free the biology frogs. Shame on you, Science Teacher, for encouraging those kids to chloroform Kermit and his wee buddies prior to dissecting them for so-called scientific purposes. Such disgraceful cruelty to animals, and no kid ever actually learned anything from those barbaric acts of school-sanctioned butchery, anyway. It's just another way to pass the time that might be better spent studying up on those Periodic Tables. Now, those you'll need over and over again in your life. Not...

Erika Eleniak, billed as the Pretty Girl in the classroom scene, actually grows up to don a revealing red swimsuit and run up and down a beach in slow motion with dem purdy tiddies of hers joggling and jiggling within the confines of her one-piece cossie. What show was this? Oh, just a little-known bit of 'Nineties fluff called BAYWATCH that also starred a coupla nobodies called Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff, that's all. Y'all wouldn't've heard of it...

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL was made in an era when kids were still allowed by law to experience some mild peril on the big screen. There's quite a bit of peril in the film, in fact, and some scenes are terribly traumatic, such as the sight of E.T.'s lifeless-seeming body lying carelessly at the water's edge on the botched trip into the forest.

Nowadays, of course, all that high drama would have to be edited out (in case kids accidentally caught a glimpse of the real world, see?) and the struggling Mom replaced with an ethnic gay couple who are atheistic vegans who don't celebrate Christmas, because that out-moded festival could be seen as excluding folks of other religious persuasions so they go to something at their kids' school called the Winter Festival, haha.

Oh, and they don't want to be seen to be perpetuating negative gender stereotypes so they won't use the term 'daughter' or the term 'son' and simply refer to their kids by name, their names of course being non-gender-specific also. And I'm sure that Little Chase and Little Forrest are all the better for it. Wait a minute. Scratch those 'littles,' they could be height-ist...!

Steven Spielberg will always be The King Of The Big Christmas Movie for me. Tonight after a modest dinner of turkey leftovers, I'll be watching JURASSIC WORLD, a film about dinosaurs which couldn't have happened but for Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster JURASSIC PARK, a movie that signalled the beginning of one of the earliest massive movie franchises.

So we'll raise a glass of something nice and alcoholic (f**k your political correctness, all you penis-breathed bleeding heart liberals!) to Senor Spielberg (and also to Senor Spielbergo, his non-union equivalent in THE SIMPSONS!) this Christmas and wish him many more happy years of dominating the festive TV listings. Here's lookin' at you, kid...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


You can contact Sandra at:


No comments:

Post a comment