I'd been saving this particular Halloween Scene until I was able to give it the attention it deserves.
That time is now.
Let's forget about how great the movie is.
Let's forget about the talent of the director.
Let's forget about the iconic imagery (E.T. and Elliot flying past a full moon... on bicycles.) that has influenced a generation.
Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial may have one of the quintessential Halloween Scenes ever assembled on film.
Yeah I know relationships end for actors just like regular people, but if America has seen you be Alex P. Keaton's mom and your name burned into the Chyron credits of a TV Show opening for years, you're obligated to keep it. Pull a Tina Turner. Keep your name.
Where were we?
Ah yes, Dee Wallace.
If you like horror movies you know Dee from such classics as The Howling, Cujo, The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Popcorn, Critters and even recent horror films like Ti West's The House of the Devil and Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007).
But to many, she'll always be "The Mom from E.T."
And here she is, dressed up for Halloween as a CAT complete with leopard-print dress and mask. Sexy!
E.T. is standing in for Firestarter's Drew Barrymore in a Charlie Brown-esque "Ghost" costume.
The old chestnut: cut eye-holes in a white sheet.
It's a costume I've always wanted to try myself, not in a lazy way but because it's such a classic-Americana Halloween staple.
The ghost-sheet costume is the Warhol Campbell's Soup Can of costumes. Quote me on that.
Seen in tons of movies and TV shows, I've never known anyone to actually MAKE a simple white sheet ghost costume. I can distinctly remember telling my mom that's what I wanted to be one year and her throwing a fit because she did NOT want me cutting holes in the good white sheets. Sheesh. Some people have NO allegiance to Halloween.
A bowler hat, 3 o' clock shadow and a knife through his head. What else would you call him?
The knife in the head serves a purpose, actually, in that (in one of the first jokes of the scene) E.T. lights up his healing finger and tries to touch it with his catchphrase "Ouch."
I guess the murdered bum worked better than a murdered Quasimodo. More on that next.
Lastly our hero, Elliot, is dressed as Quasimodo complete with hump on his back and grayed face.
Mom tells them to be back one hour after sundown (Sweet!) and we get to see the front of the decorated house. The front door has a classic Beistle skeleton (which holds a special place in my heart), along with a ghost and blazing orange "Happy Halloween" sign. Not to mention a few carved pumpkins on the doorstep.
(Is it just me or does the neighborhood have a striking resemblence to the Poltergeist neighborhood?)
It's about this point in the clip that John Williams's score --you know him... that guy who has scored most of the iconic films in your lifetime-- kicks in. Per the E.T. Soundtrack CD, the particular piece of music is called, what else?, "The Magic of Halloween."
A zombie doctor shambles by holding a live poodle wearing a party hat. I kid you not.
E.T. also stares in awe at an approaching sea monster, duck-sailor and dog-nun (Seriously I've watched it a couple times. It's a tall person wearing a dog mask and a nun's habit. A dog-nun. What else should I call it?) If I had seen the duck-sailor and dog-nun in The Shining it would have given me sleepless nights. Here? Well... um, still sleepless nights. Sorry, The Shining REALLY scared me.
The payoff to this montage is a child walking by in one of the only "licensed" characters featured: a Yoda costume. E.T. sees Yoda and turns to follow calling after him "Home. Home! Home!"
Not only is it an in-joke between fellow "Movie Brats" Spielberg and George Lucas (he did a little film called Star Wars... you should put it in you queue). But it's a sight-gag that most kids GET. I tell ya, that was a hoot-and-a-half when I saw E.T. as a kid.
Though it's not in this particular clip, it should be noted that E.T. also has the candy connection to Halloween. We all know the integral part the (then) new Reese's Pieces played with this film and due to M and Ms passing on the product placement, the VERY Halloween-colored orange and black Reese's Pieces were used and shot up in popularity. Hey if the candy is good enough for aliens, it's good enough for us kids, right? (A direct quote from my very young brain.)
THIS POST from the past, when I would go trick or treating, we used shopping bags that had printed Halloween pictures on them or plastic bags that the local bank or whoever gave out. Catching this little piece of detail really took me back. Elliot is carrying a white plastic bag for his treats complete with ghosts and jack o' lanterns on it (check it out in the pic to the left)!
No cloth totes or recycling in the '80s my friends! Ha-ha!
Just one more thing to make not only this film fantastic but this Halloween Scene as one of the best representations of Halloween on celluloid. Period.
So sayest, THIS Halloween Addict.
The copyright cops police the heck out YouTube for E.T. footage like this BUT you can view the entire clip legally FOR FREE at MovieClips.com HERE. Or buy the movie and soundtrack in the Amazon links below.