Hopkinsville, Kentucky is a small town in the western part of the state. There's a farm on the outskirts of town. And on August 21, 1955 it's owners were the Suttons. Their friends the Calloways were visiting from Pennsylvania.
The house didn't have running water. Around 7:00 p.m. Billy Taylor went out to the pump for a drink, and noticed a strange light in the sky. He told the others about it, and it was assumed to have been a shooting star... for a while.
An hour later weird things began happening. Odd noises began to surround the house, and the family dog began barking wildly. It then dug itself under the home, where it stayed until the next day.
Thinking there was a trespasser, Billy Taylor and Lucky Sutton got a pair of rifles and went outside. Across the yard they saw a small creature, about 3 feet high, with glowing eyes, large ears, and taloned arms. It was wearing a silver outfit. It didn't move it's legs as it suddenly began gliding toward them.
When it kept coming, they both raised their guns and fired. There was a sound like rocks being thrown against metal, and the creature flipped over backwards, then vanished.
Billy and Lucky started to walk in its direction. But as they stepped off the porch, another creature standing on the roof reached down and grabbed their hair. Both dropped back and fired again, with the same results- the rattling sound, and the thing vanishing.
The evening quickly became a nightmare. How many of the strange creatures there were is unknown, but they were everywhere around the house. They scratched at the roof. They'd peer in windows, and the frightened family would shoot at them. The glass broke, followed by the same rattling noise and the creatures briefly disappearing. But they always came back.
The nightmarish visitation continued. After 3 hours the families had a chance to get to their cars, and drove into town.
At the local police station they were found to be terrified, sober, and "the type of people who normally didn't run to the police". The officers specifically noted that the families did not appear to have been drinking.
Police investigated the scene, finding the house damaged by gunfire. But the strange creatures were gone. Although they weren't seen at other houses that night, strange lights were, and odd sounds reported.
Over the years the family members have been interviewed several times. Their stories are consistent, suggesting that they all witnessed the same traumatic event. They were generally felt to be honest people who'd experienced something mysterious and frightening.
Those who are still alive rarely talk about it to reporters, but in 2002 Lucky Sutton's daughter said "It was a serious thing to him. It happened to him. He said it happened to him. He said it wasn't funny. It was an experience he said he would never forget. It was fresh in his mind until the day he died. It was fresh in his mind like it happened yesterday. He never cracked a smile when he told the story because it happened to him and there was nothing funny about it. He got pale and you could see it in his eyes. He was scared to death."
Many explanations for the events of that night have been made, including escaped circus monkeys, Great Horned Owls, and inevitably, a hoax. The U.S. Air Force investigated, and found no answers. To this day the case is labeled as unsolved.
But not forgotten...
After the 1977 success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg was asked to make a sequel called Night Skies. This time, far from the benign visitors of Close Encounters, the aliens came to terrorize us. The movie was based on the Hopkinsville Encounter, which Spielberg had heard about while researching Close Encounters. Models and storyboards were done. The lead alien had a long glowing finger that killed animals it touched. Another alien was more friendly, and befriended a human child.
For various reasons Night Skies was never made. But it wasn't forgotten, and eventually the idea became 3 other Spielberg films.
The idea of malignant aliens taking over a home and terrorizing it's occupants gradually changed, and in 1982 was released as the horror film Poltergeist.
The same idea was reused in 1984, but this time the idea of the single friendly alien was in the plot. The movie was Gremlins.
And the third movie?
The evil animal-killing alien leader (with the glowing finger) from Night Skies was combined with his friendly colleague, and the 1982 film was called E.T.
Have a happy Halloween, everybody.
And never, ever, ever feed them after midnight.