E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is one of the greatest movies ever made. A family film that delighted critics and audiences alike when it hit screens in 1982, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic has also managed to stand the test of time, as beloved now as it was then.
It spawned a merchandising empire, with E.T. toys, games and clothes making millions for Spielberg and co. The film also inspired a bizarre novelisation, a copy of which FANDOM recently found in a London flea-market.
These books – which were all the rage in the 1980s – told the tale of a movie, but due their frequently being written during principal photography, and oftentimes based on early drafts of the script, the resulting tome could differ wildly from the finished film.
And while the plot is largely the same when it comes to E.T., some of the more minor details are VERY different. And weird. And at times batsh*t crazy. So the following are our eight favourite moments from the novelization of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Elliott’s Mum is Sexually Frustrated
We don’t spend a huge amount of time with Elliot’s mum – Mary – in the movie. As played by Dee Wallace Stone, she’s lovely, a little eccentric, and clearly still reeling from her husband running off to Mexico with Sally.
In the book, we spend a lot more time inside Mary’s head, and she clearly has needs that aren’t being met. Mary develops a crush on mysterious government man ‘Keys’, and we’re even told that – at the end of a long day – “If a strange man was waiting upstairs in bed for her, he’d simply have to amuse himself until she had the strength to climb the stairs.”
A weird sentence to appear in what’s ostensibly a kid’s book. And the first of many such strange additions.
E.T. Talks to Tomatoes
In the movie, E.T. gives life to plants. In the book, he also chats with vegetables. A green bean tells him where Elliot lives. A tomato tells him to not be scared of the dog. And an artichoke advises E.T. to peer through a kitchen window to better see how human’s communicate with each other.
The Meaning of Life = M&Ms
Spielberg initially approached the Mars company about using M&Ms in E.T. but they turned him down, the film instead featuring Reese’s Pieces (and driving sales of that product through the roof). M&Ms nevertheless feature in the book, and are referred to in the most ridiculously glowing of terms…
“The elderly space traveler followed, picking up each M&M and swallowing it down hungrily. This was the food of the gods, of kings, of conquerers. Were he to survive his ordeal on Earth, he would bring a sample of this miraculous food to his Captain, for with it vast universes could be crossed, in supreme flight.”
E.T. isn’t done there, the none-too-subtle advert – for what ended up being the wrong product – continuing in bombastic fashion.
“Chocolate dribbled from the corners of the spaceman’s mouth; his fingers were coated with it too. He licked it off deliriously, his strength returning. He could feel the miraculous substance coursing through his veins, bearing its secret chemistry to his brain, where blips of joy and light were going off. Now he understood the meaning of Earth life: 10 billion years of evolution to produce – the M&M.”
E.T. Thinks Keys Are Teeth
The aforementioned ‘Keys’ is a key character in E.T., a government agent tailing the extra-terrestrial, defined by the huge fob attached to his belt. And those keys seem to somewhat confuse our diminutive hero, as the book explains…
“The old botanist saw the man’s belt, with something hanging from it like an assemblage of teeth, jagged-edged, trophies possibly, wrenched from the mouth of some other unfortunate space creature, and placed on a ring.”
Chill E.T. – they’re just keys.
The Drug-Taking Headmaster
During Elliot’s drunken episode at school, he’s taken to the principal’s office for a dressing down. We’re told – in passing – that the headmaster’s predecessor was “a sexual offender”, which is a weird enough detail to throw into the mix. But then the headmaster launches into a speech about the dangers of drugs, referencing pot, angel wings, and Quaaludes.
All-the-while Elliot is floating in the air thanks to E.T.’s telepathic powers, though the principal misses this due to his back being turned. He then dismisses Elliot, opens his ‘Confiscated Drugs’ drawer, and swallows a handful of Quaaludes.
Interestingly, much of this scene was shot, but unused in the finished film – though a fuzzy version of the scene can be viewed above. The actor playing the principal is also none-other-than Harrison Ford, who had previously worked with Spielberg on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and whose wife Melissa Mathison wrote the E.T. script.
E.T. Wants to Have Sex With Elliott’s Mum
In the movie, E.T. is a pretty asexual presence, aside from that weird cross-dressing episode. In the book, he’s a bit more lustful. When he first lays eyes on Mary, E.T. thinks to himself: “A kindred soul, after all, was she now? Loving vegetables as he himself did? Was this not the basis for a more extended, more intimate… relationship? Dare he show his eggplantish profile to her?”
As the story progresses, his feelings for “the willow-creature” become more pronounced, E.T.’s heart becoming heavy whenever she leaves the room. But then it starts getting creepy. E.T. watches Mary sleep, stating: “She was a goddess, the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen… her closed eyes like the sleeping butterflies upon the night-blooming narcissus, her lips the petals of columbine.”
E.T. endeavours to proclaim his love for Mary, but Harvey the dog stops him. Then she goes for a shower, and proceedings turn seriously pervy. “Would she want an extra-terrestrial in the shower with her,” E.T. ponders. “Standing ankle-deep on duck feet and staring up at her with bulging and beseeching eyes?”
Mercifully E.T. never actually acts on his impulses to consummate, which is probably a good thing, both for the reader, and Mary.
Gertie Wants to Dress Like Bo Derek
With Halloween fast approaching, Mary asks Gertie what she wants to go trick-or-treating as. “Bo Derek,” comes the reply. Derek had recently had a hit with sex comedy 10, and this sets Mary’s brain racing: “The image of her infant daughter parading naked and wet down the block flooded Mary’s taxed mind.”
Both unnecessary, and weird.
E.T. The Atomic Bomb
As E.T. becomes gradually more sick, he starts to worry about the effect his death might have on the planet. “He had to find a way to die alone,” the book states. “But even then, the force might be so great that it would start to suck nearby forces into it. Could he, a single alien, implode the entire earth? Would his death turn it inside out?”
The little fella even starts to worry about going nuclear. “Somehow he must prevent his personal disaster from overtaking these Earthlings, or the Earth itself, for he didn’t know – there was no formulated equation for this planet – it might indeed follow him if we went. For his body contained a great atomic secret.”
We’re thankful that atomic secret never went off. Just as we’re thankful that these eight twisted moments didn’t make it into the finished film. As this weird, pervy E.T. would have probably failed at the box office. And be giving children nightmares to this day.