An amazing story by legendary scribe Ray Bradbury and direction from The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) It Came from Outer Space is a sure thing.
An early example of a relatable alien, not bend on world destruction, much like The Day the Earth Stood Still. Instead of commenting on atomic destruction, It Came from Outer Space focused on xenophobic attitudes in general. A great example of adventure and imagination in perfect balance with an idealistic message, It Came from Outer Space is not to be missed.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), while technically awful, earns its place on this list through sheer will power and earnestness. There certainly isn’t another film quite like Plan 9.
Many have hailed Ed Wood’s masterpiece as the worst film ever made but any film buff knows that’s not true. There are very few films as entertaining or creative, no matter the technical quality.
What shines throughout Plan 9 is Wood’s unmatched love and appreciation for the genre, which never fails to warm hearts.
Cardboard tombstones, pie tin flying saucers, queeny galactic emperors and zombies combine to create on of the greatest alien invasion films ever made.
Only the soulless could disagree.
Based on a true story of alien abduction, Fire in the Sky (1993) contains the most horrifying portrayal of an alien ever. The aliens in this film may not intend to invade but they certainly are invasive.
While the film changed many of the details of the true story, its amazing alien abduction sequence makes it all worth it.
Most of the film deals with a group of friends and co-workers following the abduction of one of their own. The townspeople do not believe their stories, until their friend Travis Walton appears once more.
The story is acceptable but not exceptional. The mind-blowing abduction sequence makes Fire in the Sky a seminal film for science fiction fans.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) was overly ambitious and could not have possibly fully explored the many unique back alleyways of science fiction that it intended to. Nicolas Roeg’s surreal film introduced an insanely unconstructed and fresh approach to the subject matter of extra-terrestrials.
David Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien seeking a way to end the drought on his home world. He is delayed from his noble mission by sex, love, alcoholism and television. No other cinematic alien, excepting maybe Superman, has experienced humanity on such an intimate level. Newton explores every facet of human culture, eventually becoming addicted to its more base traditions. Newton eventually becomes imprisoned and supplied with endless alcohol, much like a rock star or celebrity novelist.
The Man Who Fell To Earth has so much to say about modern culture that it is hard to distill into a single, coherent idea. It remains groundbreaking and Avant grade in the science fiction genre.
Squeezing the original into a mold fit for a new generation the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers proves that remakes can be as effective as originals.
The 1970’s much like the 1950’s were about self-fulfillment and enjoyment. Although the political problems of the 1970’s were much more complex following the 1960’s civil rights movement and the rise of feminism, the idea of happiness was embraced by culture. Disco, exercise and therapy became widespread in the era referred to as the “me decade.”
Leonard Nimoy’s psychiatrist character persuades everyone that his or her fears are unfounded. Of course, no one can be trusted especially those in power. The original Body Snatchers skewered the idea of conformity but the 1978 remake more disturbingly attacks the idea of happiness and self-realization.
Those too lost in their own happiness are doomed in this 1978 classic.
1953’s War of the Worlds may not contain the pathos of the 2005 remake or the absolute horror of Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast, it did contain immense imaginative designs and sounds that would become taken for granted in later films and television programs.
The design of the Martian machines of war is most likely the greatest spaceship of flying saucer design ever to appear on celluloid. The manta ray like shape of the craft, along with sleek lines and metallic sheen, created the perfect balance between awe-inspiring and fear inducing. The cold machines floating over burned out cityscapes cannot be forgotten once seen. In addition, the vaporizing heat rays shot from the machines inquisitive, periscope heads has become a science fiction trope. The sound effect of the heat ray became the go to sound effect for any ray gun including uses in The Outer Limits. The green ray, or disintegration ray, fried a victim’s insides making his or her skeleton temporarily visible. This effect would be used in various subsequent films such as Mars Attacks! (1996). The sound effect would go on to be reused as the sound of photon torpedoes in Star Trek.
War of the World’s Academy Award winning special effects and designs are timeless and amazingly influential, for this reason alone it deserves to be called one of the greatest alien invasion films.
The 1956 Cold War classic is without a doubt the greatest alien invasion film ever made. Invasion of the Body Snatchers originally mixed humor with its unavoidable, barely hidden Cold War horror and angst. The studio was uneasy about mixing humor and horror; as a result the final edited version became a lean, mean thriller.
The idea of “pod people” is so pervasive that is has made its way into American popular speech and force itself into three Body Snatchers remakes and an endless slew of imitations.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers does what all alien invasion movies should do; it provides a window into how humanity acts under pressure. Along the way the films explores Eisenhower era conformity and cold war hysteria equally.
The original ending to Body Snatchers is the best, perhaps only rivaled in its pessimism by Night of the Living Dead (1968).
Technically The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is not an alien invasion film. While aliens are present and do cause mild destruction and mischief; their agenda is never invasion but rather atomic disarmament. The mysterious alien Klaatu gives the human race a choice between abandoning destructive technology or total elimination. That’s pretty heavy subject matter for 1951.
The humanistic story is enhanced by featuring the friendliest, most cordial extraterrestrial prior too E.T. Michael Rennie plays Klaatu like a wise elder statesman; his performance is the greatest reason to see the film.
A robot gives the other great performance in the film. Gort’s vague human features and complete power have been enough to secure is status as a science fiction icon.
John Carpenter’s greatest film is The Thing (1982). The Thing lacks Carpenter’s skills as a screenwriter and composer but remains a surprisingly elegant and enduring piece of work. Elegance is perhaps not Carpenter’s most dependable quality but The Thing and Halloween (1978) both have a ballet-like quality about them.
A remake of the 1951 The Thing from Another World and an adaptation of the novella Who Goes There?, By John W. Campbell, Jr. The Thing is most likely the greatest remake of all time and one of the greatest adaptations.
Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Carpenter’s masterpiece features a shape-shifitng alien antagonist, but unlike Body Snatchers The Thing doesn’t need to rely on political commentary to remain timeless. The Thing is simply the greatest claustrophobic who-dun-it ever produced.
Independence Day (1996) belongs on any list of science fiction films, even considering its pulpy, barely-there plot. The film was a pop culture phenomenon spawning a massive merchandising campaign. Every child in the 1990’s had an Independence Day alien action figure or at least knew someone who did.
The film is simply a great American action thriller, complete with all of the tropes and tricks of the genre. Then again, who really cares? Independence Day is a huge patriotic spectacle, just like the holiday that it is named for.
The exact opposite of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing, Independence Day displays how a group of alien invaders can be beaten by chiseled looks and American know-how. Body Snatchers skewered American conformity and Independence Day reinforced it. Including diverse characters such as an African American leading man and a Jewish sidekick does not serve to break up the concept of American conformity; it instead proves the superiority of Western culture and technology in general.
While this overly aware, diverse cast has its faults, the plot does unite the human race globally against an outside attacker. Of course, this is achieved thanks to the Americans and their answers for everything.
Then again, it’s just really fun to watch.