THE word got out about E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (World, 9.35pm) as soon as it had been shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982. Previews in the US and Canada sold out and when official opening day arrived on June 11 queues to get in went around the block and back again. He was afraid, he was alone, he was three million light years from home. And Stephen Spielberg was about to make some big money (US$4 million in the first few months alone, give or take a few thousand). The extent to which the little man from outer space wormed his way into our consciousness was reflected in Time magazine's decision to make him fourth runner-up in its 1982 Man of the Year awards. E.T. is the story of a lovable alien stranded on Earth when his spaceship is forced to make a quick exit. Elliott (Henry Thomas) finds him hiding in his backyard and, like any kid who finds a stray, decides to hide him from the grown-ups. E.T. becomes attached to Elliott and his friends, but still wants to return to his home planet. Meanwhile, the children must save him from some government types who are trying to capture the alien for some extra-terrestrial scientific research. The story couldn't be simpler. In most hands it might have stayed that way, but in Spielberg's - despite the odd hole in the plot - it does become something special. The fun comes from the meticulously realised details that Spielberg and co-writer Melissa Mathison have injected into the material - E.T's too-cute encounter with a fridge full of beer to the wonder of Elliott's bicycle soaring into the air. Mathison produced the script in eight weeks - and the best first draft Spielberg had seen. THE long-awaited sequel to the much-loved Alien turned out to be a non-stop war movie in space with gung-ho marines blasting special effects monsters with special effects weaponry. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns as your highly credible and slightly sexy action heroine. Aliens (Pearl, 9.30pm) starts with Ripley drifting back to Earth only to be sent back into space without passing go or collecting 200 pounds. Her mission is to find out why The Company has lost contact with a colony on a distant planet. Weaver is superb; smart and tough. The rest of the small cast performs well, the suspense is unrelenting and the monsters are thoroughly frightening. JACK Nicholson steals the show in outrageous striped pants in The Rebel Rousers (World, 1.00am), a time capsule from 1967. The story? Typically 60s, really. Co-star Bruce Dern holds a drag race to see who will 'win' architect Cameron Mitchell's pregnant girlfriend. ON STAR Plus The Big Trees (2.00pm) is a pleasing, outdoor melodrama starring Kirk Douglas as a lumberjack who wants to chop down trees but is won over by the local Quakers who hold the giant redwoods in awe. Jekyll & Hyde (2.00am) has Michael Caine separating the good and the bad within him. Joss Ackland and Cheryl Ladd also star. FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: East Of Eden (1.00pm). First starring role for James Dean, who spoke for his generation before getting killed in a car accident. He's the rebellious teenager who turns against his harsh father and discovers his mother, long presumed dead, is running a nearby brothel. Based on the book by John Steinbeck. Kidnap Of Wong Chak-fai (9.00pm). Lightning strikes twice for multi-millionaire Mr Wong when he is kidnapped for a second time, which begins to look like carelessness. Why are the kidnappers interested in him, and not any of the other multi-millionaires in Hong Kong (the film features two, unimaginatively named Mr Ho and Mr Li). Altered States (11.30pm). Amusing elaboration of Jekyll and Hyde, in which a psycho physiologist uses a sensory deprivation tank to hallucinate himself back into primitive states of human evolution, in which guise he emerges to kill . . . lots of psychedelic visions. A feast for special effects lovers and drugged philosophy majors only. William Hurt stars.