Top 5 Alien Invasion Movies

Posted Friday, September 2nd, 2011 09:04 pm GMT -4 by

When scientists were learning more about other planets such as Mars and Venus in the 1940′s and 1950′s, the data was tantalizing but not complete enough to know if there were advanced life forms on those planets. This fired the imagination of writers and the general public, and they wondered what would happen if aliens from those planets — or from planets outside our solar system — were hostile instead of friendly. What if they invaded Earth, either in an open display of force or by using more covert means? When the 70′s and 80′s rolled by, we learned that intelligent life in our own solar system was unlikely, but that didn’t stop the public’s hunger for alien invasion plots. The following list is my opinion of the top five alien invasion movies in chronological order. I consider these films to be equally good.

1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

This film could not have come at a better time. After WW2 ended, the advent of increasingly advanced nuclear weapons created the specter of global armageddon. Klaatu’s anti-violence preaching in the movie drives home that point, and the film may have been a veiled threat aimed at the USSR after they tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949. The superpowered Gort robot may symbolize a U.S. deterrent againt nuclear rogue nations.

2. The War of the Worlds (1953)

H.G. Wells wrote the first credible novel about alien invasion in 1898 called ‘The War of The Worlds,’ which this film is based on. While the visual tricks that Hollywood had back then were minimal, it won an Oscar for special effects. The script moves the setting from London to Southern California, which is the only gripe I have about this excellent movie.

3. The Thing (1982)

The 1979 ‘Alien’ film initiated a modern genesis of movies that depicted biological assaults on humans from another humanoid species. It doesn’t qualify as an alien invasion for my criteria since the aliens never land on Earth. Following that movie, ‘The Thing’ was released — a chilling depiction of alien life on Earth that can mimic human biology.

4. Predator (1987)

One of Schwarzenegger’s best movies, ‘Predator’ notches the alien suspense up a notch using brilliant visual effects to describe a creature that uses camo to hunt its prey. The epic final battle was the first realistic-looking “individual man vs. individual alien” fight depicted on film where a feeling is achieved that these are two warriors who ultimately respect each other for their fighting talents.

5. Independence Day (1996)

While there are flaws that exist in ‘Independence Day,’ nobody can deny that it is an exciting film and the first to show a realistic-looking alien invasion of Earth on a massive scale. One of the best scenes in the film is when the “hippies” get up on the roof of a tall building to welcome the alien visitors, and are quite rudely greeted by their new alien overlords. Too many sci-fi fans assume that visiting aliens will be friendly (blame ‘Star Trek’). While this could be the case, notable figures such as the physicist Stephen Hawking caution us not to make hasty assumptions.

  • midas68

    Beside Terminator, you really don’t get much of a chance to put a Arnold Movie in a top 5. 
    I have not seen the Original Day the Earth Stood Still in so long I cannot judge it. But if its as Hokey and dated as War of the Worlds then This is truly one of the Worst Top 5′s list. In fact No doubt it makes the TOP 5 Worst TOP 5 Lists!!!!!

    Predator may not have more brains then the less then half that Independence Day has. But it gets the nod over it as it doesn’t need em, Its just muscle bound guys fighting a alien.

    People are either Brain Sapped or they forget how badly some films age. It worked on Dummy’s 50 years ago and its still working on em today.

    The War of the Worlds Remake by Spielberg is much more entertaining and quite a bit less retarded.
    The Thing is a Retarded Spider Baby
    Day the Earth Stood Still spawned a remake that was so bad it made booger picking a sport.
    Independance Day made fools into believers of Will Smith as a Action Heor(Welcome To Earf) anyone.

    Predator gets a fav Nod for being well made Fun and not being pretentious by pretending to be more then it is.

    The Thing (Remake) is the only Great movie in what people misguidedly think of as classics. But most people wouldn’t know a good movie if it was stuck in their Rec+um

    BARF ON YA’s

    • So apart from Predator as brain-dead fun, you don’t have a single candidate for a really good alien invasion movie? (Of course, the titular ‘Predator’ was not invading, just visiting a game reserve).

      Sadly I tend to agree with you – I can’t think of any really intelligent, paradigm-shifting alien invasion movies either.

    • Mellowthunder

      “Predator gets a fav Nod for ….. not being pretentious by pretending to be more then it is.”

      That said, no “fav nods” for you.

      Get a clue guy. The way you bash the classics with zero appreciation for acting, writing and time of production shows that you really have no business commenting on any theatrical releases short of “The Smurfs”. Mind you, that’s not to say you could comment on every animated feature, because there’s no doubt “Fantasia” is beyond your grasp as well.

  • Steve Davidson

    First – I don’t think you can classify The Day The Earth Stood Still as an “invasion” film;  Klaatu came here to warn us and help us, not conquer us.
    With that being said, I really have to take exception to midasa68′s comments;  there is no way that any real fan of the genre can successfully argue that the remakes of GREAT films like The Day The Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds and The Thing From Another World (let’s get the full, original title up there for a change) are in ANY way superior to the originals.
    It is understandable that younger folks have been brainwashed into believing that ‘good’ films consist of flashy CGI, numerous explosions of iconic structures, nonsensical dialogue hoping for a t-shirt hook, a frenetic pace designed to fool you into thinking there really is coherency to the plot and a lack of a real ‘message’ – but brainwashing is not a valid platform upon which to base comparisons.
    Learn to WATCH a film.  Learn to watch B&W – there’s a LOT more going on there than you have any clue.  Remember that the pace is going to be a bit slower than you are used to because there is INFORMATION being imparted by the scenes, the action, the background music and the dialogue.
    The Thing – ’82 – pretty decent horror film, but can’t hold a candle to the SCIENCE FICTION original.  No CGI can possibly replicate James Arness’ portrayal.

    • I’ll agree with you 98% but I must point out that ‘The Thing’ (1982) is NOT CGI. It is traditional FX and that’s one of many reasons it is a classic and one of my favorite films of all time.

      • JKE

        Scott, for all the advances in CGI, there are instances where models, costumes and makeup do a better job. I wonder how long until CGI looks real enough to match the best of traditional FX.

    • JKE

      Steve, it depends on how one classifies an alien invasion. Some would include attempts by aliens to change the behavior of Earth governments to scale back their militaries to (possibly) reduce violence. Many militaries would see this as a threat to their existence, and yet attacking Gort (in ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’) would be too risky because of its formidable power.

  • What? No ‘They Live’?

  • Ack

    Ack ack, ack ack ack ack! ACK!!!

    Ack -ACK- Ack!!!

  • Predator was amazing. Mind = blown after watching that.

  • Gerry Allen

    The Thing is an inferior remake of The Thing from Another World (1951). No CGI, no green screen, just excellent writing (based on a John W. Campbell short story) and atmospheric cinematography. 

  • Dirk Van Tilborg

    Given that there have been four versions of this story, I think that ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ would be a good addition to this list. Made in 1956, 1978 (my favorite), 1993 and 2007, its certainly kept several filmmakers interested in the genre. This type of story has been done numerous times on television series as well (Outer Limits, The Invaders) and 1994′s ‘The Puppet Masters’ with 1978′s Body Snatchers actor Donald Sutherland and both 1953 and 1986′s ‘Invaders from Mars’.