When special effects guru Rick Baker joined twitter last month, many news sources (guilty!) reported on a particularly interesting image he had dug up. It was a production photo which bore a striking resemblance to a certain Extra Terrestrial.
The image was a production still from a Spielberg produced science fiction called Night Skies, a doomed film which never saw the light of day. Lazy reporters (again, guilty) presumed it had been some sort of follow up to Close Encounter of the Third Kind, a pressure job from the studios to cash in on that film's success.
Well, since that light bit of dust has settled, Indiewire have honorably decided to dig a little deeper and have discovered that, of course, there was a great deal more to the story. They explain that in between Close Encounter and Raiders of the Lost Arc, just after the release of 1941- his first flop- Spielberg was feeling dour.
Spielberg turned to a bit of UFO-related miscellanea that he had initially dug up while researching "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." In late 1955, members of the Sutton family of Christian County, Kentucky, alleged that small, extraterrestrial creatures had menacingly swarmed their small farmhouse.
Seeing that he could tempt the studio with another sci fi (albeit a stand-alone film) Spielberg got the go ahead on the tentatively titled Night Skies and, from there, went looking for Aliens:
These were meaty creatures that dissected cows and ransacked living rooms. They had to do more than wave. On his friend John Landis' advice, Spielberg got in touch with Rick Baker, then prepping his groundbreaking transformation work on "American Werewolf in London" for Landis.
Baker came on board with Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy and began to produce his work. From there the plot thickens even more:
Sayles script was delivered to Baker in mid-1980, with the original eleven aliens whittled down to 5, and the heart of the story coming in the form of one of the nicer aliens, nicknamed Buddy in the screenplay, forming an unspoken bond with a young autistic boy
Head over to Indiewire for Drew Taylor's excellent article and give Rick Baker a follow on Twitter, he's already been throwing up some precious gems.