Let’s face it — extra terrestrials are scary. Most of the following films don’t typically portray our Galaxian brothers and sisters as cute, E.T.-like creatures. Often, they’re evil, blood-sucking, and anxious to steal our beautiful Earth men and women.
In honor of these otherworldly flicks, here are 30 of the greatest invasion films. Don’t call it entertainment — call it survival research for when aliens attack!
‘This Island Earth’ (1955)
Earthling scientist Dr. Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) is selected by leaders of Metaluna to help save their planet from impending destruction.
He and other appointed brainy types discover that this alien-initiated research project actually hides a dastardly plot by the Metalunans (who look like a pretty untrustworthy bunch anyhow). Dr. Meacham and his lovely, intelligent colleague (Faith Domergue) must save the Earth from these evil invaders.
How does it end? We won’t give it away, but enjoy the cool 1950s special effects.
‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ (1959)
A group of evil aliens plots to take over Earth by resurrecting the human dead. Their hope is to create an army of corpses to march on the capitals of the world.
Some call this a cult classic, others say it’s B-movie garbage. You be the judge.
One important note: The film won the not-so-distinguished title of “worst movie ever made’’ in the 1980 book “The Golden Turkey Awards.’’
‘Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000’ (2000)
John Travolta stars in this film as Terl, who rules a powerful group of aliens called Psychlo’s. In the year 3000, these aliens are ravaging Earth of its natural resources and enslaving mankind. The humans fight back against the alien race.
‘Mars Attacks!’ (1996)
This movie features an A-list cast: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Michael J. Fox, to name a few.
The film follows evil aliens who get a hoot out of killing Earthlings and blowing up or even bowling with our most cherished world monuments. The humans handle the onslaught in bizarre, funny ways.
Some people love the flick, others strongly feel the opposite. Be prepared to choose.
‘The Faculty’ (1998)
Teens aliens in America’s heartland matched up with evil aliens is a common theme in invasion flicks. In “The Faculty,’’ students in Herrington High, Ohio, discover that their teachers (including Jon Stewart) are aliens – the deadly kind. The teens must stop them before the creatures take over the country.
Throngs of flesh-hungry aliens descend upon an ordinary Kansas farm. They soon seek assistance from the town drunk and his critter hunting cohorts to battle these aliens.
‘It Came From Outer Space’ (1953)
A couple witness a flaming meteor crash near a mine and quickly learn that it’s, of course, an alien craft. As these things go, no one believes them.
But as town residents disappear and return acting strangely, it gets the attention of the sheriff. Together, they must confront the aliens and save the town in this classic.
Mel Gibson plays farmer and minister Graham Hess who discovers an intricate pattern of crop circles carved into his fields. Hess soon realizes he has more to worry about than just some ruined corn.
Directed by king of twists M. Night Shyamalan (’’The Sixth Sense,’’ “Unbreakable’’), it’s arguably not a great sci-fi flick, but it’s a nice watch on a quiet Saturday night at home.
‘The Blob’ (1958)
Heartthrob Steve McQueen plays Steve Andrews in this classic about an alien blob consuming everything — and everyone — in its path. Andrews tries to warn the town folk of the jelly-like blob. Naturally, no one believes him. Would you?
An alien invader begins terminating a group of commandos in the jungles of Central America who are led by a tough soldier named Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger). As with any great Schwarzenegger film, the film climaxes as a one-on-one face off between the hero and the bad guy, in this case a pretty nasty-looking alien. The movie was followed by 1990’s “Predator 2’’ and 2004’s “Alien vs. Predator.’’
A group of aliens called “The Visitors’’ comes to Earth to solve all our problems. They seem not only to be smart but sexy – by ‘80s standards anyway. Who would guess that beneath these hot exteriors are really cold-blooded lizards?
The made-for-TV series featured hunk Marc Singer, who played resistance fighter Mike Donovan. The styles are a little heavy on the cheese, but overall it’s a fairly entertaining miniseries to rent on DVD.
‘The X-Files: Fight the Future’ (1998)
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson starred as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in this movie based on the popular TV series. In the movie, they’re back trying to track down aliens and fighting against the government conspiracy trying to stop them.
The movie was OK at best. It was pretty much a souped up version of a regular episode with better special effects. This one’s mostly for fans of the TV series.
‘The Arrival’ / ‘The Arrival 2’ (1996)
This double feature stars Charlie Sheen as radio astronomer Zane Zaminski, who is captured by aliens after going to Mexico to investigate unusual signals. The B-movie turns into a surprisingly good flick involving alien power plants, invasion plots, and more.
The second feature follows on the heels of the first. Computer programmer Jack (Patrick Muldoon) receives a warning from Zaminski about the alien scheme. Jack soon picks up the trail. Can the aliens be stopped? See for yourself.
‘The Thing from Another World’ (1951)
Here’s a tip: If you ever find a creepy alien frozen while working in an Arctic research station, keep him frozen. Otherwise, as in this 1951 alien thriller, you’ll find yourself being attacked by a blood thirsty creature. This guy was no cute E.T.
Blood-thirsty aliens abound in this flick about a space shuttle mission to Halley’s Comet gone horribly awry. The shuttle returns with a bunch of dead British and American astronauts and a cargo of, you guessed it, space vampires. It’s up to the sole survivor and authorities to exterminate the aliens before they destroy mankind.
‘Superman II’ (1980)
Christopher Reeve returned as the man of steel to battle three notorious criminals from Krypton that were inadvertently released during a nuclear blast.
Superman gives up his powers so that he can indulge in a romantic relationship with Lois Lane – only to find that he’s now left the world defenseless against these bad guys. You’ll get chills when the president of the United States is forced to kneel down and surrender to General Zod.
‘War of the Worlds’ (2005)
Tom Cruise starred in the remake of “War of the Worlds’’ in 2005. The movie has a slightly different story than the original but works nonetheless. The backdrop of the invasion is almost apocalyptic, with great special effects underscoring the destruction of cities and other infrastructure.
‘Men in Black’ (1997)
In the original “MIB,’’ Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) play two men who are part of a secret government agency tracking legal and illegal aliens (the E.T. kind) on Earth. A bad news alien is sent to Earth to recover a powerful object called “the Galaxy.’’ If the two agents don’t stop him, another alien race threatens to blow up the entire planet.
The film won the 1998 Academy Award for best makeup. It’s an invasion movie, sure, but it also offers plenty of laughs.
‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ (1951)
The film was born during the rise of communism and on the heels of the 1947 alleged alien saucer crash report in Roswell, N. M. By today’s standards, the special effects were lame, but at the time, they wowed audiences.
The plot involves an alien space ship that lands on the Mall in Washington, D.C. An alien, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), comes to Earth with a warning to civilization to turn away from its warlike ways. A soldier shoots and injures Klaatu. This forces his near omnipotent robot Gort to go on a rampage, melting tanks and showing us how weak and totally inept we are in defending ourselves against alien technology.
‘The Thing’ (1982)
In 1982, “John Carpenter’s The Thing’’ terrified audiences. The movie starred Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady, a scientist working at a station in Antarctica.
The station is ravaged by an alien that can assume the identity of anyone it’s killed. The surviving team of scientists must identify who among them is an alien before they can battle the threat.
‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1956)
Kevin McCarthy plays Dr. Miles Bennell who is caught up in the invasion of a small California community. Amid reports that townsfolk are acting strange – even robotic like – he discovers that aliens are replicating people and taking over their identities. Bennell must warn the world before the alien takeover spreads beyond the limits of the town.
This is the body snatcher movie that started it all and was the motivation behind Nicole Kidman’s film “The Invasion.’’
‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1978)
In this remake, Donald Sutherland plays Dr. Matthew Bennell. The sleepy town of Santa Mira is replaced by San Francisco, and like the original, Bennell gets reports that people are acting strangely. He soon discovers that aliens are replacing people as they fall asleep.
The movie offers some different plot twists from the first film. Look for appearances by Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock in the “Star Trek’’ series). The dog scene is a classic.
‘They Live’ (1988)
What do you get when you combine a sci-fi thriller with pro wrestling? The classic “They Live,’’ starring Roddy Piper.
Piper plays a construction worker named Nada who discovers some special sunglasses that allow him to see the “real’’ world. To the general public, things are normal, but the sunglasses (which make Piper look even cooler than normal) reveal some people in their true form – as disgusting aliens. The glasses also show how the aliens and government are using subliminal messages to keep the general public unaware and apathetic.
‘Independence Day’ (1996)
The special effects from this ‘90s blockbuster have aged surprisingly well, still amazing viewers.
Aliens come to Earth to exterminate humans and steal natural resources. Think of them as high-tech, people-killing locusts. After they obliterate most major world cities, scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) and pilot Steven Hiller (Will Smith) scheme to infect the alien technology with a computer virus.
This movie is a must see for any sci-fi fan.
‘The War of the Worlds’ (1953)
Perhaps the greatest alien invasion films of all time, the 1953 film is based on H.G. Wells’s novel. It’s also the film version of the the controversial radio show reading that terrified the nation in 1938.
When a flaming meteor lands on Earth, people are horrified to discover that the meteors are really a Martian invasion force here to conquer Earth.The aliens quickly have us humans on the run until an unexpected turn of events saves mankind.