“District 9” hits theaters today, adding it to a list of great alien “invasion” movies. In honor of the release, I’ve compiled the Hollywood Hills Top 10 Best Alien Invasion List (followed by the 5 worst).
10. The Blob (1958). At first glance, you’d think this alien movie would be topping worst lists instead of best lists. But it’s actually a good movie with good acting and special effects that still hold up 50 years later. And if the monster alone doesn’t scare you, the hidden message of obesity should.
9. Superman II (1980). Kal-El isn’t the only alien in the Superman sequel. General Zod, Non and Ursa have come to conquer Earth and Superman. That trio always scared me as a kid. And I don’t even want to think about that creepy threesome vibe they had going.
“The movie that ‘Mars Attacks!’ wanted to be, but wasn’t. This is a snappy, clever, often-funny motion picture that provides the perfect blend of science fiction-style action with comic dialogue. “
–James Berardinelli, ReelViews
Despite the ridiculous song (I still think Will Smith owes the world an apology for ever recording music), “Men in Black” is a good solid film. Full of good one-liners and alien effects, it’s good to see Tommy Lee Jones in a less serious role.
“A fast, funny pastiche of science-fiction, horror, and teen-movie archetypes that is, aside from the original Scream, perhaps the most entertaining, fully realized film. “
–Nathan Rabin, The Onion A.V. Club
You don’t always need a scary creature attacking the Earth to make a decent horror movie. Sometimes all you need is a high school faculty. Think about how scary those female gym teachers and creepy driver’s ed teachers can be. “The Faculty” is “The Breakfast Club” meets “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
“The audience is treated to one extraordinary vision after another; the sense of a world literally being destroyed around the principal actors, the sense of their flight through panic and destruction, the sense of concussion, collapse, rubble and ruin. ”
–Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
The classic based on the book by H.G. Wells might be dated, but it’s the grandfather of alien invasion movies. The effects might not hold up to today’s standards, but it did win an Oscar in that category. Respect. The 2005 reboot is much easier on the eyes, but it could never out-do the original.
5. Little Shop of Horrors (1986). Many people don’t realize Audrey II, the man-eating plant from Skid Row, actually came from out of this world. It becomes more apparent in the original ending (cut because people are wimps) when Audrey II kills Audrey I and Seymour feeds himself to it before it takes over the world. “Da-doo.”
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Unless those aliens are lying bastards, they seem pretty cool. They just wanted to give some humans the chance to meet them and their planet. Probably before sucking out their brains and using their skin for alien tennis shoes. Now I have that five-note alien song stuck in my head. Thanks.
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). I’m probably going to get hate mail for picking this version over the 1956 one, but it’s the one I prefer. You at least get to see the aliens in their original form and it becomes clear why they’re here looking for hosts. I could do without all the political undertones (in both versions actually), but it’s always going to be on my Top 10 list.
2. E.T. (1982). Oh E.T., why you have to be so sweet? Why do you have to ruin my image of evil aliens who only come here to probe and kill us? Who doesn’t love this movie? Who doesn’t have great memories of this movie? It’s a new classic. I still don’t know why “E.T.” was even visiting Earth, but I don’t care. He’s cute. That’s all that matters.
1. The Thing (1982). John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is the anti-E.T. Everything E.T. showed us, “The Thing” defied. And they were released in the same year. “The Thing” is a shape-shifting alien who consumes its victims then becomes them. You never know who to trust. Especially when you’re trapped in the middle of an Antarctica sausage party. Often called Carpenter’s greatest work, “The Thing” captures the top spot for its storytelling, gore and frights.
The five worst
5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2007). It causes me great pain to admit this. I love Indiana Jones and I love Shia LaBeouf. But I hated this movie. It played out fine for a while, and then we’re given the shock of our lives. Aliens? Seriously. No.
4. Night of the Creeps (1986). Starring the second Rusty Griswold, this movie is so bad it’s good. The Creeps begin in the form of leech-like parasites then enter your body, possessing you. Among the symptoms: bad 80s hair and cheesy effects. I do give props to the character names. They all have names like Romero and Cronenberg.
The kind of schlocky, disposable time-killer that once might have starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, The Impostor is a relentlessly dull chase flick with an inexplicably high-toned cast.”
–Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
In 2079, a weapons scientist (Gary Sinise) is arrested on suspicion of being a replicant sent by aliens that attacked Earth years before. Certain he isn’t a replicant, Sinise breaks free and tries to find out the truth. Originally created to be a short, Imposter was expanded to a feature-length film, but, sadly, there wasn’t enough story to keep audiences interested. Yet another adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s complex work, Imposter pales next to Minority Report and Total Recall.
2. Mac and Me (1988). A complete “E.T.” rip-off, it’s clear a group of people sat down and said “we need to think of ways to make this not E.T.” So they put the boy in a wheelchair. Oh, and they used Skittles instead of Reece’s Pieces. I do have to admit, although ridiculous and random, the terribly long dance sequence in McDonald’s makes me laugh every time.
1. Howard the Duck (1986). Everything from the name of Howard’s planet (Duckworld) to the duck’s near-sex with Lea Thompson is wrong. The plot is garbage. The jokes are lame. It’s not funny to imagine ducks as horny, smoking perverts. I love suspending reality for a good movie, but I’d need a lobotomy to enjoy this one. Even the head of the studios that put the movie out was asked to resign after its box office failure.