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Theory: E.T. is a horror movie about an alien who wants to kill a little boy

Screenshot: E.T. Trailer (YouTube)

Yes, you read that headline correctly. The lovable, wrinkly extra-terrestrial you remember from your childhood was not so lovable after all. In fact, this bug-eyed space creature may have been the scariest villain in cinema history. At least, that’s the theory being put forward in a new Medium article by Rob Bricken that suggests E.T. may have wanted to do more than just phone home. He may have wanted to kill Elliott.

The root of Bricken’s distaste for E.T. begins with the fact that the homeless, diminutive alien is both disgusting and rude. Not only does he unquestionably resemble a malformed penis, but E.T.’s first action upon being left alone in Elliott’s house is to slam a six-pack of beer and run amok. These are not the antics of a heartwarming character. But the alien’s true, murderous intentions don’t become clear until later.


As E.T.’s health begins to fail, both Elliott and the audience realize that proximity to his fellow space men is integral to E.T.’s survival. It’s at this point that the physical and psychic bond he’s formed with young Elliott stops being cute and starts having life-threatening consequences. E.T. is dying and he’s knowingly taking Elliott—a child—with him. “How do we know the psychic bond between the two is something E.T. can control?” Bricken asks. “Because after bringing Elliott to the brink of death, E.T. finally relents and releases Elliott from his psychic bond, allowing the boy to get better.”

The argument could be made that the psychic life-bond thing works differently on E.T.’s home planet and he didn’t know it was going to kill Elliott. Or that, because E.T. is clearly capable of intergalactic travel, he saw the simple, Earth-bound Elliott as nothing more than a piece of livestock or a particularly loyal dog. However you justify it, E.T. was going to needlessly murder that kid just before shuffling off this mortal coil. That’s pretty ice cold and it kind of makes the whole Reese’s Pieces thing less adorable.

Read Bricken’s whole article here. 

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com


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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.