One of the most common plot points in sci-fi movies are creatures from other planets. It makes for easy movie fodder, since humanity’s inherent curiosity in what else inhabits this bizarrely improbable universe of ours draws us directly to stories involving aliens. The truth is out there. In movies at least, because every alien sighting in real life is just swamp gas and weather balloons.
At least that is what the guys in black suits tell me.
Maybe the tight-lipped government stance on space monsters is the reason there are dozens, if not hundreds, of alien movies that could have been on this list. Hence why I am trying my damnedest to block ET and his gooey xenomorph friend out of the box. Hopefully it works out better than trying to keep Back to the Future off my time traveling list.
Attack the Block
When everybody was heaping a saucer full of praise on Super 8 for being a perfect callback to the feel and attitude of “groups of friends” movies in the 80s, I just assumed they hadn’t seen Attack the Block yet, in which a gang of incredibly realistically portrayed British street kids inadvertently become the only line of defense between blood thirsty alien invaders and the imaginationless adults who don’t believe them about the blood thirsty alien invaders. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Except when they do. Like Attack the Block.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
D E C C G
The Day the Earth Stood Still
One of the many classic movies that received a remake so utterly out of step with the original film that one has to wonder if any of the morons involved had actually seen any sci-fi movie before, let alone the original Day the Earth Stood Still. The brilliantly made original is notable for being one of, if not the, first time a movie used peaceful aliens to turn a light on the warmongering nature of the human race. It is also notable for two other reasons; providing the line for Ash to fuck up in Army of Darkness, and being the most accurate movie version of Jesus ever. Definitely way more realistic than the slasher movie Mel Gibson made about him.
Killer Klowns from Outerspace
There are two types of people in this world; the type that see a movie named “Killer Klowns from Outerspace” and immediately know they are going to love it, or the type that see a movie named “Killer Klowns from Outerspace” and know they are going to hate it. Only the former type should be allowed to breed.
Most sci-fi, even sci-fi by the best, tend to create aliens that – no matter how outrageous they may look or act – are still generally comprehensible to humans. Movies like the Abyss, and books like Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, deal with aliens that are legitimately alien. It actually bums me out that a smartly paced, brilliantly acted movie with an interesting take on aliens and their motives made 1/10 of the money that the hackneyed “Dances With Smurfs” did.
Ever since this movie came out, after every election America inevitably turns to the person next to them and says “I honestly just wish Bill Paxton was president.”
And then the person next to them says “You mean Bill Pullman.”
There are very few movies that have the capability to drive wedges into friendships like Mars Attacks, which starred literally every single person to ever be in a movie. “Either you love or or you hate it” is an understatement.
FUN FACT: This was the last good movie Tim Burton made that didn’t look like it was created solely to put on lunchboxes and very large black t-shirts for sale at Hot Topic.
When I first saw previews for District 9, I expected one of those artsy movies that uses something fantasy or sci-fi related to draw attention to humanitarian issues in our own society. “Aliens rounded up into a slum and treated badly? I get what point this is going to make and am totally down with having my belief system validated by alien allegories” I thought.
One bad ass mech suit battle later and I was way more happy with the movie that Neill Blomkamp made than the movie I thought I was going to see.
For whatever reason, they named the new The Thing “The Thing” as well, but if you’ve read anything I’ve written here before, I’m assuming you know I mean the first The Thing and not the new The Thing, although the new The Thing was actually pretty good and a very capable sequel to the first The Thing. Still, the legendary special effects in The Thing are what I think makes it far superior to The Thing. I still really wish they called The Thing something other than The Thing, although I guess they couldn’t have called the new The Thing “The Thing 2” because Dr. Seuss probably has a copyright on that, and you don’t fuck with the Doctor.
Ah, the crowning acting achievement of the greatest wrestler to never hold a world title, Rowdy Roddy Piper. They Live doesn’t just contain one of the best fight scenes over wearing sunglasses that let you see capitalist aliens in the history of cinema, but it is also still so completely and utterly accurate in its portrayal of a culture obsessed with greed and consumerism that it might actually send you into a state of depression when you realize this movie came out over twenty years ago and is still entirely relevant. No matter how many people start realizing how good this movie actually was, it will still be underrated.
In fact, there was only a single movie I could think of, other than god damn Alien or god damn ET, that I could possibly consider a better alien movie than They Live, and it was another movie that has been picking up steam in the internet age and starting to shed a bit of its “underrated” label.
Leprechaun 4: In Space
Just screwing with you. We all know the best Leprechaun movie was “Leprechaun: In the Hood.”
For some reason, the only person that gave a damn about Dark City when it came out was Roger Ebert. It received a fairly tepid reaction from the ever annoying professional critic circuit, barely made its money back in theaters, and was expected to be relegated to “cult hit” status if it was lucky. Thankfully, as more people have slowly stopped being idiots with bad taste, the true awesomeness of Dark City has become known. In retrospect, Dark City probably should have been the movie that influenced science fiction going into the new millennium and not the Matrix.
And hey, everybody still would have been able to wear trench coats for Halloween that year.