With Independence Day: Resurgence hitting the cinemas this week, The Snooty Ushers have put together our Top 10 Alien Invasion films.
Alien invasions have been a staple of film and TV for decades. Each generation of film makers has used the idea of extra terrestrials coming to Earth, reflecting the hopes and fears of every passing decade. Whereas in the fifties aliens might represent the communist threat, later on we moved onto the nuclear threat, and the loss of identity in society. And they also made for an enemy to have some kick ass action films.
So here are our Top 10 Alien Invasion Films. To be included, the film has to have an alien invasion. Simple! For example, Predator isn’t on this list, because the alien in question isn’t invading Earth. Similarly, Starship Troopers isn’t about an alien invasion of Earth, it’s about a space war.
Films just missing out: Pacific Rim, Mars Attacks!, Signs, The World’s End.
Films just just JUST missing out: Attack The Block
10. Men In Black (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1997)
A slightly different type of invasion film than the others. Here aliens live among us and travel to and from earth as casually as we fly on holiday. It incorporates lots of pop culture, Will Smith, when he was still an emerging talent and a really clever take on The Men in Black and the government conspiracies surrounding Roswell and Are 51. This is a comedy and more family friendly than the others, which are all darker, deeper actions movies or thrillers. Nevertheless this is relatively original and very funny. It deserved this spot on the list.
9. The Blob (Irwin Yeaworth, 1958)
An alien Meteorite crashes and a small Red jelly emerges that begins to engulf any human it comes across while growing in size. It runs havoc around Small-Town Pennsylvania.
Released as a B movie in 1958 to I Married a Monster from Outer Space. It was aimed at the Drive-In crowd and the teen audience. It was also the Debut of Steve Mcqueen one of my favourite actors. Popular among fans as oppose to critics who were especially harsh on the acting. What was praised was the camera work and effects. I agree with this. It is a classic example of a B movie and it has been stated as a solid example of a big scale movie on a small budget. I love it because it was one of the first sci fi/horror films I watched with my grandad when I was seven. I genuinely scared and both loved and hated the blob . Looking back now I laugh at how bad it actually is but i was young and foolish.
8. Slither (James Gunn, 2006)
Dan: I’m rather surprised this didn’t actually feature further up the list, but the alien invasion sub genre has some pretty big hitters in it, and cult classics which this title is sure to be part of. You know that guy James Gunn who directed that amazing film Guardians of the Galaxy? Well he made this back in 2006, and it’s a winner.
Playfully borrowing from other science fiction/horror favourite Night of the Creeps, we venture into a small town, with a small mindset where alien slugs begin to take control of human bodies by entering any orifice they can find. Using humans as hosts they begin to take over the town in search of world domination, standing in their way is none other than fan favourite Nathan Fillion.
Slither is a gorily fun ride through a wicked blend of horror/science fiction nostalgia, one liners and zombie deer. Yep you read that right. Go watch it now.
7. Battle: Los Angeles (Jonathan Liebesman, 2011)
Dave: When Aliens attack the world’s coastal cities we follow one US Marine Platoon sent into LA to look for survivors and find themselves cut off and fighting for there lives. This is a cracking film, that grabs you from the start and never lets up. Aaron Eckhart is the damaged Sgt Nantz, who is due to leave the military after a mission gone wrong resulted in him losing his platoon, is dragged back into service following the attack. He is great as the put upon every-man hero, throw in a great turn from Snooty Ushers Dependable Michael Pena and the actually pretty good acting debut from R&B star Ne-Yo and you have an ensemble cast that you are actually invested in. Action packed and thrilling, this has a worthy place in the top 10.
Dan: I honestly do not understand why this film was savaged by critics everywhere. It’s a film about aliens invading earth and an military outfit trying to take them down, this isn’t Shakespeare this is popcorn entertainment and it most certainly kept me entertained. The action might be a little jerky at times, but it’s mindless fun and I was very much invested in the fates of the characters in the film. Michael Pena, Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Noel Fisher, Ne-Yo…I liked everyone of them.
6. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)
Welshy: One of the best Sci fi films of all time. It is tense, it is gripping and the allegories it draws are still appropriate even in this day and age. The idea of being taken over, loss of control, brainwashing and the hidden enemy. I have read loads of critical analysis and reviews over the years that hit on McCarthyism and communism. A popular subtext in sci-fi at the time. The Blob is also argued to have Anti-Communist messages but I disagree. In Body snatchers however its blatantly obvious.
James: Was there ever a better time for sci-fi films than the Fifties? This first adaptation of Jack Finney’s novel (there have been four so far) takes the idea of pod people, adds a huge dose of the fear of either McCarthyism or Communism, (depending on who you ask), dumps the book’s original happy ending, and delivers a simple and incredibly effective thriller. Spores from outer-space land on Earth and people are replaced with “pod people”, identical physical copies without any emotion and a small town doctor tries desperately to persuade a psychiatrist that what is happening is real.
One of the reason for the numerous re-makes is that the core of this story hits at a deep-rooted fear that so many people have. The loss of personal identity, of society removing individuality, is as prevalent now as it was in the 1956. The original film version is one of the most claustrophobic horror films, and I’m glad it made its way onto this list.
5. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978)
James: And onto the remake of our previous entry. I reckon it comes down to this or Scarface when it comes to best remakes, as Philip Kaufman upped the ante from the original film. The story is moved from a small town to San Francisco, which gives a bigger canvas for the story to develop on. We also have a fantastic cast, with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum. But I think it is the addition of that scream that sets this film apart. A truly chilling horror film, with a memorable ending.
The threat to humanity is spelled out even more, as vivid San Francisco starts to have its inhabitants replaced by identical, but soulless, replicas. There is also a twist at the very beginning that hints towards its bleak ending – the alien invasion has basically already happened, using flowers to spread their spores. The overwhelming sense of inevitability takes the undercurrents of the original film and brings them to the very front… there really is no escape.
Dan: When I was younger I used to stay up late and watch films late at night on BBC 1, they’d be films I had no knowledge of, watched on a whim because I was being rebellious staying up past my bedtime. They were times where I watched some of the best films I’ve ever seen and this was one of them. I was captivated from start to finish, and as James mentions that scream is filled with more dread than most contemporary horrors can conjure up.
4. The Faculty (Robert Rodriguez, 1998)
Dave: In 1998, I was a mere 22 years old. I was obsessed with Quentin Tarantino and, following his From Dusk Till Dawn collaboration, Robert Rodrigez. I was also a huge fan of the Scream movies and their screen writer Kevin Williamson. Then there was the cast which was a collection of the best young actors of the time (Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Jordanna Brewster) with some great support from the likes of Salma Hayek, Robert Patrick and Famke Jansen, literally everything about this film had me buzzing. I wasn’t disappointed. The film tells of an alien invasion of an Ohio High School and a collection of teen stereotypes who band together to fight back. The Jock, The Stoner, The Geek, The New Girl, The Freak and The Prom Queen. It sounds like a cliche, but the brilliant script by Williamson brings enough of a twist that it works and the pop culture references don’t date it as bad as you would think. “If you were going to take over the world, would you blow up the White House ‘Independence Day’ style, or sneak in through the back door?” is still a great line. The Prom Queen and The Jock are among the first to fall and it is the out upon geek played brilliantly by Elijah Wood who is the hero of the piece. It disappointingly reverts to type in a mis-judged ending, the geek gets the girl, the freak puts on make up and light dress when she date the jock, but those are small complaints as this is a cracking film that met my expectations in 1998 and again on a re-watch last year. A firm favourite of mine for sure.
Welshy: Literally everything Dave has just said.
3. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
Dan: Really, this is just as worthy a Number 1 as the films above it. It’s as perfect a blend of horror and science fiction as Ridley Scott’s Alien. The tension, the mystery and the superb visual effects from Rob Bottin (He would go on to do effects for Total Recall and the Robocop trilogy, unfortunately he also did the effects for Humanoids From the Deep) all make it a classic film that has lived throughout the generations, inhabiting those closest to you. With a charismatic ass kicking lead in Kurt Russell, a brilliantly subtle score from Ennio Morricone and a boatload of paranoia The Thing will forever be one of those films you watch at halloween.
Dave: Tension at its best. John Carpenter was the master of it. The small group of survivors being terrorised by an unseen threat has been done, and done to death, but its done brilliantly here. Plus Kurt Russell leads and strong cast of cracking beards. Seriously though, it’s tense, creepy, terrifying and utterly brilliant.
James: A classic, creeping horror film.
2. Independence Day (Roland Emmerich, 1995)
James: An absolute belter of a sci-fi film. I recently re-viewed it, and for a special effects driven film, it really, really holds up well. Jeff Goldblum is great, Bill Pullman gives a great inspirational speech, and the great Will Smith punches an alien. (In all serious though, it did launch Will Smith as a huge star.) Throw in an Airplane! reference and Independence Day is one of my favourite films, and deserves it’s place so high in this list. It would take something special to keep it out of the number one slot…
Dave: This was my number 1. I just love it. This was the first film I saw in the cinema multiple times. 5 in all. I watch it every year on the 4th of July. A big budget blockbuster at its best. This was the film that showed the world that Will Smith was going to be a star, and that speech by Bill Pullman has never been equalled. The destruction of The White House and, well the whole World was stunning and the effects have dated well. For a blockbuster, it packs a bit of an emotional punch, when we lose Mary McDonnell’s gutsy First Lady and I always have a goose style tear when Harry Connick Jnr goes (Jimmmmmmmmmmmy!!!) It has its daft moments too, mainly all the scenes with Randy Quaid, but that is a small complaint. Action packed, funny and with at least some emotional depth. The perfect summer blockbuster.
1. They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)
James: The films that earned Roddy Piper the number 1 spot in my Wrestlers in Movies countdown is John Carpenter’s second entry in the top 3. They Live has Piper as a drifter who discovers the Earth is being ruled by aliens in human disguises. It features Piper in one of the best fist fights in film with the legendary Keith David (most recently seen in The Nice Guys). The two drifters have two different attitudes towards life, and the two of them get on the same page to fight back – against society that has oppressed them. This is basically a working class every-man hero type of film – the fact he is overthrowing aliens instead of, say, corrupt businessmen is just a nice wrinkle.
Dan: Roddy Piper, kicking ass and chewing bubblegum, trying to save the world from aliens who’ve sneakily taken over the world, maintaining a status quo through subliminal messaging. How do you make an alien invasion film perfect? By adding political satire that is just as relevant today as it was back on release. The best B-Movie there ever was, is, and ever shall be.
Dave: This was the only film that featured on all 4 of our lists and is a deserved number 1. I loved Rowdy Roddy Piper when I was young WWF fan. James has hit all the reasons why this film is brilliant, and then there is that line, which James has immortalised in one of his many GIFs (we have an intervention planned). A great watch, to this day.
Welshy: What can i say that hasn’t been said already. Piper was on of my favourite wrestlers, this film is one of the best stick it to the upper classes in the best and weirdest possible way. Great with Chinese food and six cans of Stella it is a cornerstone of my movie night.
And there we go. A deserved winner I’m sure you will all agree. If you don’t, then let us know!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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PS As a special treat for reading all the way to the end, here’s the individual Snooty Ushers’ list
5. The Thing
4. The Faculty
3. They Live
2. Battle: Los Angeles
1. Independence Day
5. The Thing
4. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
3. Independence Day
2. They Live
1. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
5. Battle: Los Angeles
4. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
2. They Live
1. The Thing
5. Men In Black
4. The Blob
3. They Live
2. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
1. The Faculty