Society has been enamored with the possibility of alien life-forms existing in the annals of space for thousands of years. This thought process has been sensationalized by Hollywood for the better part of a century. Who doesn’t take pleasure in a good alien invasion flick these days?
Now what qualifies as “good” is subjective. For there have been a wide range of alien invasion products that either play it straight, or have some fun by spoofing the concept of having visitors from another planet invade our realm. With that said, here is BuzzFocus’s top 15 alien invasion flicks from the world of cinema:
15. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Although it was the remake of the 1951 classic, this is an example where technology definitely enhanced the original story. When a giant orb of light lands in a park, a human-like being (Keanu Reeves) appears, costumed in some sort of biological cocoon. Joining him is a skyscraper sized robot that will wipe out any military aggression toward its alien counter-part. They’re here because the human race’s actions and decisions are threatening the other life-forms on the planet. So it’s time to get rid of the humans and start from scratch.
Scene of alien awesomeness: When the robot transforms in a giant swarm of metallic alien mites that devour everything in its path.
14. Dreamcatcher (2003)
It’s funny, this movie based off a novel by Stephen King, was ripped apart by most critics and audiences when it was released. Many citing that the first half was well-done, but a horrid second half buried this tale about parasitic aliens possessing and/or torturing a group of telekinetic friends (Thomas Jane, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis). Which leads to a government quarantine led by Morgan Freeman.
Scene of alien awesomeness: When Damian Lewis and Jason Lee are wrestling with the creature in the cabin/bathroom. Turned out to be suspenseful, bloody fun!
13. Signs (2002)
Think back to the days when a M. Night Shyamalan product was still cutting-edge. Starring Mel Gibson & Joaquin Phoenix, a family living on a farm, begin to notice giant crop circles in their field. These same designs start popping up all over the world. Slowly, more evidence suggests that aliens are indeed on Earth. Which forces Gibson barricading his family in the old country house, as aliens start surrounding them. Signs built up decent tension and the ending really paid-off. Some will remember this as Shyamalan’s last great flick.
Scene of alien awesomeness: When the audience sees the creature holding a child and Joaquin just starts teeing off on the alien with a Louisville slugger baseball bat.
12. The Faculty (1998)
About the time when Scream re-ignited the teen horror property, The Faculty borrowed that stylish atmosphere and combined it with a sci-fi approach. The plot revolves around students suspecting their teachers are not so human anymore. Their teachers’ goal is to first infect the student-body and eventually the rest of the town. The alien parasites that are controlling the humans, need abundant amounts of water to maintain their human cover. A group of mismatched students, catch on and attempt to make a stand in the high school. This entire production had a great ensemble cast.
Scene of alien awesomeness: When Clea DuVall is caught in the school’s swimming pool area, while being stalked by one of the creatures. Also enjoyed when coach (Robert Patrick) and the rest of the possessed football team are taking a “drink.”
11. Mars Attacks! (1996)
Probably the funniest alien invasion movie of all-time. This is a spoof on the genre, which brought in an A-list roster ranging from Natalie Portman to Jack Nicholson. By far the best out-of-this-world comedy one will ever discover. Crude jokes and over-the-top performances make this enjoyable every minute. Invading Earth has never been so joyous.
Scene of alien awesomeness: The entire 106 minutes.
10. War of the Worlds (2005)
Director Steven Spielberg takes this 1953 property based on the novel and radio broadcast from H.G. Wells, and turned this into an Oscar-nominated (effects) epic tale of survival. Tom Cruise stars as a blue-collar father who tries to keep his two kids (Dakota Fanning & Justin Chatwin) safe from a monumental alien invasion. Which is basically an extermination of the human-race. Giant tri-pod machines armed with advance weaponry systematically wipe-out anything and everyone that cross their path. Coincidentally, some say Cruises’ career was wiped out shortly after this.
Scene of alien awesomeness: When the first machine emerges from underground, Tom Cruise is running through city streets and people around him are vaporized into dust by the giant machine.
9. Starship Troopers (1997)
This R-rated blockbuster surprised everyone. Critics embraced it. Civilians turned it into a cult classic. Complete with gore and everything else that should be in an R-rated feature, this story was about 18-year-olds who join the military to fight off monstrous alien insects in the far-off future. Spacecrafts and futuristic weapons are blasted all over the place. ST found the balance of providing a decent drama with popcorn movie shenanigans. It was basically Star Wars with the Empire being represented by bugs on steroids. And who didn’t want to be Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien).
Scene of alien awesomeness: When the legions of bugs bum-rush a stronghold. And the scene where Denise Richards (I think it was her character) bites it in slow-motion.
8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Granted, the 1978 version is probably more entertaining to watch, but this was the pioneer for many future alien invasion products commonly found in cinema today. Although it lacked true visual alien perks, the story’s purpose was to depict the panic if such a pandemic would occur. Honestly, the storytelling delivered here puts a lot of modern products to shame.
Scene of alien awesomeness: Not many to choose from, but seeing the chaos of citizens running away from virtually nothing, has its suspenseful moments.
Now, it’s time to break away from the list and hand out an honorable mention awards:
-The Blob (1958, 1988 and upcoming remake scheduled for 2012)
Of the three – we’ll speculate on the upcoming version – 1988’s version was mindless fun. The flick managed to show intelligence in a story about an enormous pink glob of goo, slowly devouring the human race. Each time a victim is captured, the blob’s mass would increase. Some great mullet hairstyles were on display in this sucker as well.
-District 9 (2009)
It’s a movie about aliens, but it breaks away from the invasion angle. It’s more like a Civil War slave movie than anything else. Since there is some alien action found in it, it should be noted somewhere on this manifesto.
Now back to the countdown (I sound like Casey Kasem – who may be an alien. How else could anyone stand to play 40 crappy songs everyday).
7. Species (1995)
The ranking may seem a tad high for this guy, but has an alien ever been any sexier than Natasha Henstridge? When scientists believe they can clone humans using alien DNA, they create this horny little creature. A creature that is every man’s desire on the outside, but can instantly transform into an armored up death machine. As Natasha wants to procreate her species, a deadly task-force made up of professional hit men (led by Michael Madsen) attempt to take her out.
Scene of alien awesomeness: Natasha is making out with a possible mate and her elongated tongue impales the through the back of his head.
6. The Last Starfighter (1984)
If you grew up in the ’80s, chances are this VHS tape was a part of your favorite movie collection. The story tells about a trailer park simpleton (Lance Guest), who spends most of the time playing an arcade game. He comes to find out, that the game is similar to a job application, as he is recruited by an outer-space fleet to fight an evil alien race. The script kind of portrays the character as the chosen one. Anyway, he is brought up to space and is captain of a famed ship and does intergalactic battle against an armada. This is pure ’80s feel good, heroic cinema, that had the production budget to make it all worthwhile.
Scene of alien awesomeness: When Lance Guest is outnumbered by the armada, he fires the secret weapon (death blossom) and the ship carves up the alien enemy fighters. (Could you tell I became excited when writing this one up?)
5. Predator (1987)
Or as we like to call, Steroids versus alien. Governor Arnie leads a militia (Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura to name a few) against a cloaked creature who is highly skilled at hunting its prey. The epic encounter boils down to Arnold trying to match wits and muscle with the crafty Predator. It can be questioned if this flick was a true invasion on mankind. That said, the unique take of having just one alien terrorize ample competition, proved that the genre was able to branch out.
Scene of alien awesomeness: The Predator holding a fallen foes skull and spinal chord. Plus, the bad-ass cloaking device was handled perfectly while the alien warrior would hop from tree-to-tree.
4. Alien (1979)
Ridley Scott’s iconic tale about aliens invading a spacecraft, starring the unplugged Sigourney Weaver. So the aliens didn’t invade earth, but the horror they caused when breaching this ship is considered cinematic legend. Not much else needs to be said except if one hasn’t seen this, grab it!
Scene of alien awesomeness: Duh, the alien coming out of a human’s stomach!
Yep, we feel the Oscar-nominated sequel in a variety of categories, trumps the first installment. Having said that, these two spots are interchangeable. James Cameron took the helm on the sequel, as the Ripley character (Weaver) is asked to lead a team of commandos back to the planet where she barely escaped from. That planet is now inhabited by humans, but communication has been lost. Guess who survived?
Scene of alien awesomeness: It just happens to be one of the featured clips on the IMDb.com page for this title. The taskforce is trying to outrun the aliens via an armored car, but the creature is intensely persistent and ravages a few victims.
2. Independence Day (1996)
It’s rare when an alien invasion movie can find the perfect balance to please all audiences. This flick may have not received enough critical love (but I wasn’t reviewing yet haha) to warrant such a high ranking. What does validate its position on this list, is the replay value this story has. The special-effects were Oscar-esque. The performances effortlessly paced this flick nicely. Keeping the audience engaged the entire duration is no easy task in this genre, yet they managed to do it. This spectacle is modern alien blockbuster blueprint many have tried to emulate.
Scene of alien awesomeness: The city-sized craft hovers over the white house and the laser beam disintegrates history. (And for the record, I expect to get heat from this one on the comment boards)
1. Close Encounters of a Third Kind (1977)
An alien invasion flick like no other. You know how some people say that a boxer is “pound-for-pound” the best in the world. Well at the time this flick was made, this deserved a similar labeling. This is not your typical war-like script as featured in the majority of the other ranked films. It is more existential piece, seeing how one would react when aliens invade (enter the Earth’s atmosphere in this case). Some say this is Steven Spielberg’s best work. Intelligently shot and scripted, this is one of the most provocative alien flicks in the history of cinema.
Scene of alien awesomeness: Two words…Flying saucers. And mashed potatoes.