Top 5 Big Screen Alien Invasions

The new version of the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still is finally here. But aliens have invaded our pale blue dot (in fiction, at least) hundreds of times. Out of all the planets in the universe, why would intelligent alien life pick Earth to invade? Haven't they seen our polluted waters, infomercials, and dim-witted elected leaders? Some come here because they made a mess of their own planet (); some travel light-years just to draw patterns in crops (); and others want to satirize our media culture (). Whatever the reason, the aliens just keep on coming…

1.    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

A classic of the genre and a study in cinematic paranoia, begins with a restaurant inspector named Matthew (Donald Sutherland) as he debates with a chef about the origin of something small and round, found in the kitchen: is it a caper, or is it a rat turd? Soon, however, Matthew has bigger problems, as he is in the midst of a secret alien invasion, where alien "pod people" are killing off humans and replacing them with near-exact (though emotionless) duplicates. You don't know who's real and who's a pod person, and on top of that, the evil attacks while you sleep (a theme revisited in the series). Though there are other versions, this Invasion—with a small role by <a href=>Leonard Nimoy</a> and one of the most terrifying final shots in film—set the standard.

2.    Men in Black

While most alien invasion films are scary, a few have taken a different tack and added some humor. That's where the come in; it's the title characters' daily job to monitor (and sometimes battle) alien invaders who already walk among us. Suited Agents K and J, armed with gadgets that would make James Bond jealous (including a pocket-sized "Neuralizer" to erase memories), stop ongoing incursions into our world. Like , the menacing aliens look like normal people (well, normal people with a touch of inbreeding) — except to the Men in Black and their special dark glasses. Borrowed from UFO mythology, the <a href=/1620-top-10-comic-book-based-movies-of-all-time.html>Men in Black idea</a> was spun-off from a comic book, then spun-off into sequels, toys, and cartoons, capturing the public's imagination like no other alien invasion.

3.    Killer Klowns from Outer Space 

The 1988 kult klassic , written and directed by three brothers, put an entirely new spin on <a href=>alien invasion</a> films. Sure, rural America was still being threatened by aliens, but this time the aliens don't look like creepy bugs or like us, but instead like harmless (if somewhat scary) denizens in a traveling circus. (The confusion is understandable, as their space ship resembles a Big Top circus tent, and the aliens just happen to look like giant, grotesque clowns.) The klowns wreak cosmic, comic havoc with their deadly popcorn guns, carnivorous shadow puppets, and cotton candy cocoons, using the unwitting local teens as food. No wonder some people are afraid of clowns…

4.    The War of the Worlds (1953)

is one of the earliest, and one of the "classic" alien invasion films, based on the science fiction novel by H.G. Wells. What at first seems to be a giant meteorite crashing in a sleepy California town soon turns out to be a space ship from Mars — and its occupants are not happy. Earthlings do their best to battle the invaders, but in the end it's not man but instead lowly viruses and bacteria that kill off the Martians.

Steven Spielberg's disappointing 2005 remake focused less on the aliens than on the main character's emotional ambivalence about fatherhood. Will the father/son bonding caused by the traumatic alien invasion be enough to get his resentful son to call him "Dad"? Who cares? There are massive, menacing tripod aliens destroying cities and vaporizing people with laser beams! Get the hell out of there!

5.    Independence Day 

Sure, the story of was silly and jingoistic. Sure, the ridiculous plot had more holes than a Wiffle ball used for target practice. But cardboard characters and implausibility didn't stop from making the cover of magazine and becoming the highest-grossing film of 1996. The idea of the military fighting aliens above Earth wasn't new. But never before had the alien invaders had the chutzpah to so gleefully and spectacularly blow up the <a href=>White House</a>, in what was to become an iconic image of alien destruction.


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