The 10 Greatest Alien Invasion Movies [VIDEOS]

Is Doomsday upon us? With the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, many believe Mother Nature will do us in. On an episode of Conan, Seth Rogen mentioned George Lucas firmly believed the world would meet its maker in 2012. Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster from California predicts May 21, 2011 is the day we all perish. While weather is a leading candidate for global collapse, others believe alien invasion isn’t that far-fetched. It’s been a popular theory in movies, at least. Just look at the titles coming out: Battle: Los Angeles, Paul, Mars Needs Moms, Super 8, Cowboys and Aliens. The list is extensive. Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down to the 10 most memorable.

District 9

Aliens may come in peace or to blow us to pieces. But what if they just need to stop and gas up? Sorry, but that means we’re enslaving your alien asses. In the surprise hit of 2009, a bunch of aliens land in Africa where they’re put into corrupt internment camps. They get to learn about all of Earth’s great customs like prostitution, weapons dealing and cat food. They are beaten, cut up and forced out of their homes. And with little in groundbreaking technology and several of them sick, world domination isn’t even on the table; they just want to go home. Apparently, you can also turn into the dubbed ‘prawn’ aliens by simply being exposed to some of their special ooze. The movie ends with two aliens escaping Earth in their giant ship. We don’t need a sequel to figure out what is going to happen next. The aliens are going to come back with an army and zap us all.

Mars Attacks!

Who says alien attacks have to be all gloom and doom? Even the dark mind of Tim Burton was able to find the humor in such a genre. Based on a line of trading cards (no joke), Burton’s star-studded sci-fi comedy lampoons the alien B-movies movies of the 1950s with an inept human race incapable of dealing with such an attack. They try reasoning with them, the aliens blow up Congress. They try firing nukes, the aliens laugh at their feeble weapons. And just for kicks, the aliens decide to do pointless experiments with the human body for amusing purposes. An alien attack movie usually involves the humans trying to study with the aliens, fight them, find their weakness and kill them. The weakness of the Martians is so absurd, the only thing more ridiculous is how it’s discovered. Just remember, people: the international sign of the doughnut does not equal peace.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Being different and working to benefit mankind may be a good message, but if you’re an alien, you’re getting your ass shot at. That’s exactly what happens to Klaatu when he parks his saucer on Earth to save us from ourselves. Good thing he has Gort, a robot with laser-eyes, to defend himself. Don’t want him shooting lasers at you? Just say the magic words: klaatu barada nikto. Klaatu is killed, but comes back to life to deliver a message to humans that they need to stop being a-holes if they want Earth to prosper. I don’t want to say that Klaatu is Jesus Christ because there is a remake where Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu. And I don’t want to lump Keanu Reeves into that class of comparing fictional characters to religious figures.

War of the Worlds (1953)

The 1953 classic is about as great as science fiction gets. It’s in color, the ships look awesome and the story hits all the right notes. Even though the aliens look like walking Simon games with suction cup fingers, the film still has that charm that makes a good science fiction movie. And while some may find it laughable that the aliens are killed off by bacteria, it’s a better ending than just blowing them up. At least they didn’t end it with the whole thing being a hoax and everyone being trolled like the radio show did. There is a 2005 remake, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to see a lot of Tom Cruise running and a lot of Dakota Fanning crying.

Independence Day

If you told me that the fate of the human race against an alien force relied on the talents of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, I’d blow my brain out right now. But, then again, there is a lot of absurdity in this action blockbuster from the 90s. Giant squids in large saucer-like ships descend on major cities to blow up important structures. Their purpose is to kill all humans for some unexplainable reason. Through Goldblum logic, the crazy technician comes up with a brilliant plan to load a computer virus into the mother-ship (without even debating whether there is a computer in the mother-ship). This conclusion isn’t reached, however, until we fire a bunch of jets and nukes at the aliens to no effect (a common element of Godzilla films). If you find science fiction boring and are more of an action kind of guy, this is your alien invasion movie. Little is known about the aliens and most of the audience doesn’t care. They just wanna see big spaceships go ‘pew-pew-pew’ and hear the Fresh Prince of Bel Air yuck it up. And since the movie delivered both, mission accomplished.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I’m sure in some weird stoner logic, pot-heads believe aliens will come down to give us a massive laser-light show. Steven Spielberg obliged that idea with Close Encounters, where a bunch of UFOs abduct people, give a music light show, return the people they abducted and then finally reveal their true form as child-sized gray beings. I’m sure musicians love this movie for the fact that there may be beings out there who can communicate through synthesizers. The aliens in this movie don’t have a ton of screen time and they pretty much come in peace. But the thought of big-headed, black-eyed children touching you and inviting you on to their ship just seems creepy and weird. It probably would’ve sounded appealing to Michael Jackson, but it just freaks me out.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Clowns are already the scariest creations of make-up and clothing on Earth. Be it a Batman villain or a circus trickster, clowns generally bring out more fear than chuckles in most people. So you could imagine how horrific the idea of murderous alien clowns would be. Yet, surprisingly, the people in this movie fall for their clownish nature despite their horrible teeth, creepy skin and unnatural movement. The clowns come to Earth for the purpose of turning people into cotton candy and killing people using a variety of clown-related gags. For a B-movie with a ridiculous concept, it’s quite horrifying in the way these freakish monsters go about murdering people. In a move that would even make the Joker’s jaw drop, a large clown almost successfully lures a young child out of a restaurant so he can smash her skull in with a mallet. The movie is mostly a tongue-in-cheek horror movie, but for that one moment, it became the scariest movie on Earth.

Men in Black

Unlike District 9, the MiB didn’t make a media circus out of intergalactic immigration. They erase memories, keep aliens in check and bust out the big guns when things get nasty. All of this is done with procedure and class. Even when faced with a possible extermination of the entire universe, everybody is calm having dealt with the situation before. In most movies, the humans are completely unprepared for such an assault. In Men in Black, we’re fully prepared to handle it more as a domestic dispute than an intergalactic war. The ones that don’t try to kill us are allowed to live on Earth in a system that works like immigration, for better or worse. In a perfect world, MiB would exist. Then again, given the amount of secrecy, maybe they already exist.

Predator

Not too much is known about the human-hunting alien from the Arnold action classic. All you know is that he’s cloaked, he can snipe and is one “ugly mother-f*cker.” Aliens in the movies usually show up in small towns or major cities. But landing in the jungle gives a perfect cover even without a cloaking device. What makes the Predator a much more interesting alien is that he isn’t interested in world domination or studying the human race. He is just on a hunting trip. You know, spend some time away from the wife, chug some brews, blow some human brains out and maybe haul back a deer for supper. I’m still waiting for the Predator movie where he hunts hunters in the northwest woods just so I can hear the line “Ya, if it bleeds we can kill ‘er, eh.”

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (’56 or ’78)

The only thing more terrifying than an alien invasion is a silent alien invasion. Alien pods create pod people who are indistinguishable from regular people with the exception of their lack of emotion. The pods continue to replace regular people until the entire human race is replaced by pod people. Worst of all, the pods replicate you when you’re most vulnerable: in your sleep. And with little evidence to prove an alien invasion, it’s paranoia at it’s finest. If there were ever a movie to keep you up late at night clutching a baseball bat, Body Snatchers would be it. Especially if you’re watching the 1978 remake where the pod people let out a high-pitched scream to warn the pods.

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