The Top 10 Alien Movies - Resistance is Futile
Jan 30, 2002
The Bottom Line Whether you're looking for a good scare, or some great sci-fi action, these films are sure to please...
Ah, Alien movies. As a die-hard Science Fiction fan, I had to really think long and hard about what I would consider to be the Top 10 Alien movies of all time. But to make the list more legitimate, I had to apply some rules to it. First, an alien movie isn't simply a science fiction movie. The story line not only has to have an alien as a major factor in it, but the alien(s) must be seen, in one form or another, during the majority of the film. Contact with Jody Foster, therefore, would be disqualified from this list (it would anyway for other reasons, but I shan't digress into that black hole...)
Additionally, humans from Earth must be involved in the story line (and they can't be the aliens in question). While I couldn't completely keep to this rule, I found it important to attempt to do so to lend credence to the pattern of movies this category is really dealing with. Therefore the Star Wars movies don't apply here either, despite having a number of aliens involved in the movie.
Finally, and most obviously, they have to be exceptional movies, not just sci-fi flicks. While the alien presence is a major factor, the movie itself is what draws the accolades worthy of including it on a Top 10 list. So, with all those factors in place, let's take a look at my Top 10 Alien Movie List, presented to you in no particular order.
The Alien Trilogy
I might as well start off with a series of classics that most others have included on their lists. For my purposes, I'm including the entire Alien Trilogy as one movie entry (That's right, it's only a trilogy. The '4th' installment was abysmal and I won't lend it any credence by including it here. Ahem.) Perfectly combining a horror movie in a science fiction backdrop, Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 has been scarring the you-know-what out of audiences for years, and it will continue to do so. Where Alien set the stage with frightfully realistic alien creatures, and Aliens showed how the resilient the human condition could be and Alien 3 took on an extremely effective art-deco feel to the alien threat, the combination of all three movies simply excels on all levels.
It's amazing how many people pan this movie for its trite content, unbelievable story line, and general silliness at times. But to me, it's just plain fun. Solid entertainment, great special effects, a nasty alien race hell-bent on taking over the Earth. What more can you ask for? ID4 is an energetic movie that never loses pace with its own building excitement. The aliens are nasty both in their looks and disposition, and our reaction to them is proportionally hateful - as it should be. A better film than most give it credit for, here's hoping for a sequel!
War of the Worlds
One of the original alien movies that's still considered one of the best. Based on H.G. Wells novel of the same name, Earth gets invaded by Martians. May sound corny by today's standards, but it has all the beautiful science fiction intensity and action present day movie goers desire. Unfortunately, the Martians aren't very active on screen, but their presence in their beautifully created flying saucers suffices. Chills guaranteed.
E.T. The Extraterrestrial
The only movie in my top 10 where the alien isn't some bad-@ss marauder from the depths of space. No, this time, the character is a loveable alien that easily pulls on the emotions of all who watch him/her/it. Celebrating an anniversary this year (20 years), E.T. looks to be stronger than ever. It's Science Fiction, it's Alien, it's movie making magic. Don't avoid it for its seemingly charmful disposition. If you haven't seen it yet, or haven't revisited it for years, do so now. You'll be surprised how uplifting it can be.
Not only one of the best alien or even sci-fi movies of all time, this one is simply one of the best movies of all time - period. Non stop, comic-book like action. Incredible special effects. Solid acting. Excellent story line, and some of the best looking/nastiest acting aliens ever. This is what an alien movie is all about. Filled to the gills with violence and alien guts galore, Starship Troopers is certainly for a more adult crowd, but when you realize that the violence and gore isn't just for eye candy, but an integral part of the movie, you appreciate it even more.
One of the more underrated films of the 80's, Enemy Mine which pits a stranded human against his arch-enemy alien counterpart works on multiple levels. We see how hatred can be misunderstood. We see how it can dissolve when understanding, cooperation and friendship takes its place. Enemy Mine is more a movie about friendship than anything else, but its use of the alien back drop works perfectly. Dust this one off and give it a viewing - you'll appreciate it even more now than you did before.
John Carpenter's The Thing
I don't think there's a more intensely frightful movie on my list than The Thing, a remake that's been scaring people for years. Dripping with suspense, always keeping you guessing, and interspersed with humor, this is one movie you'll always be watching with the lights on and always returning to time after time. John Carpenter's masterpiece, without a doubt.
Star Trek: First Contact
Now, being a Star Trek fan, I wanted to be sure to include one film from the series. But I didn't do so just because I'm a fan. I did so because one of the films in the series did meet the criteria perfectly - First Contact. The Borg presence is a frightful one, and they may a superb alien culture that seems impossible to defeat. But what makes them even more frightening is the fact that they're made up of stolen bodies, stolen souls. The Borg aren't a species, they're a cybernetic disease stealing bodies to build their collective. Their existence makes this movie, and a large part of the Next Generation franchise, an absolute success. Not only a great Star Trek film, a great film period.
Another often overlooked science fiction/horror flick from the 80's, Lifeforce brings space vampires to Earth in the most - revealing - form. Haven't seen the movie? I won't spoil it for you. But space vampires and superb special effects aside, Lifeforce works because it keeps you on edge from beginning to end. A definite must see for any science fiction fan.
Both versions of the Blob, both the originals 50's version and the updated 80's version have a lot to offer. The alien in this case is just that - a blob. A blob of matter than spreads its way across a mid-American country town and wreaks havoc with all it encounters. This is certainly a more campy movie than most of the others on the list, but it's still a lot of fun to watch and it still invokes some chills at times. Good stuff that just doesn't seem to get old.
And there you have it. My take on the Top 10 Alien Movies of all time. All exceptional films on their own right. All worthy of a viewing.
Thanks, as always, for reading. Your comments, positive and negative, are always welcomed.