Spielberg has recently said that his famous family friendly alien film, ET: The Extraterrestrial, was originally going to recount the alleged horrific experience of a family in rural Kentucky who says they were harassed by aliens. ET was eventually toned down, but similar mischievous “little green men” recounted in the alleged true story terrorized an entire town in the movie Gremlins.
Spielberg told the Entertainment Weekly:
It was going to be called Night Skies, based on a piece of UFO mythology … where a farm family reported little spindly grey aliens attacking their farm, even riding cows in the farmyard… This farm family basically huddled together for survival … It’s a story that’s well-known in the world of ufology, and we based our script on that story.
The Kentucky encounter never made it to the silver screen because Spielberg was able to talk Harrison Ford’s girlfriend at the time, Melissa Mathison, into rewriting the screenplay, producing the loveable character we know today. The creatures that the Sutton and Taylor families claim attacked them the night of August 21, 1955 near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, were not so loveable.
It all started during a visit by the Taylor family to the Sutton’s farm. There was no running water, so Billy Ray Taylor went out to fill a bucket at the well around 7 pm. While outside he says he saw a rainbow colored disk-like UFO land in the forest. When he reported this to the rest of the group inside, no one believed him.
Taylor convinced one of the others to help him investigate, so the two men grabbed their guns and headed outside. It didn’t take long before they saw a creature with long skinny arms, just over three feet tall, with large pointed ears, large claws and wearing a silver jumpsuit. It began walking towards them with its arms in the air. Scared for their lives, the two men fired on the creature. However, their bullets sounded as though they were hitting metal and had little effect. They saw more of the creatures on their roof, in the trees, and in the forest. When hit with the bullets, the monsters would just roll up into a ball and zoom away.
The creatures continued to harass the families for the next few hours. Several people hid in fear, while the men blasted away. At one point, during a lull in the activity, they decided to make a run for it, high-tailing it to the local sheriff’s office. The Sherriff reported later that they seemed genuinely excited and in fear for their lives. Several officers returned to the farmhouse, some seeing strange lights, but none of them saw the creatures. The officers did note the multiple bullet holes in and around the farmhouse, evidence that the men were shooting at something. Once the police were convinced that the little creatures were gone, they left. However, the Suttons and Taylors said the creatures came back and scurried around the home until dawn.
When the story hit the national media it became a sensation. Even the Air Force came out to investigate, finding no explanation for what sort of vermin had been pestering the families. The headlines dubbed the creatures “little green men”, making the phrase famous and synonymous with alien encounters.
Spielberg didn’t end up making ET a film about this encounter; however, the pictures of the creatures drawn by the witnesses bear a striking resemblance to the little green monsters that devastated a whole city in his movie Gremlins.
Whether it is their rascally behavior, or because he is a UFO buff, the monsters of Hopkinsville certainly caught the imagination of Spielberg, and although the events in Kentucky teeter on the brink of obscurity, Spielberg’s movies inspired by these little buggers are unforgettable classics.
The following documentary covers the Hopkinsville incident, and whether or not it was intended, the reenactments are very cliche and funny.