Movies about disasters – natural or human-made – have been produced since the earliest days of film. As early as 1916, a disaster with an extraterrestrial cause was touted in The End of the Worlda Danish film about a passing comet causing chaos and terror on Earth. But most stories about disasters being visited upon our planet from outer space involve aliens, not comets.
A comet has no agency, no malignant intent… on the other hand, alien invaders want to conquer humans, enslave the world, and consume humanity’s precious resources before laying waste to the entire surface of the planet. best alien invasion movies that manage to capture this horror, ranked according to their scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
10 ‘Earth vs. the Flying Saucers’ (1956)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Most definitely a film of its time, 1956’s Earth vs. the Flying Saucers made the most of the 1950s obsession with alien spacecraft and helped launch a bevy of similar films all revolving – in a manner of speaking – around flying saucers. In this film, at least, the aliens at first have no intention of invasive, but after Being met with violence when they first land, retaliate ruthlessly.
Special effects legend Ray Harryhausen created the flying saucers with stop-motion animation that was very effective for its time, one reason why this is still regarded as a seminal and ground-breaking alien invasion film.
9 ‘War of the Worlds’ (2005)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
The beloved sci-fi action film, War of the Worldsis Steven Spielberg‘s 2005 version of HG Wells’ classic story. It seems entirely fitting that a director with Spielberg’s ability to make the epic personal should craft a film where the concerns of a single man, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), should focus the attention of the audience while the world around him succumbs to one of the most horrifying and cinematically glorious alien invasions ever put on the big screen.
Although Ferrier’s family life can sometimes seem overly melodramatic, it all makes sense in those scenes where his children are threatened. The escape from the Hudson River ferry, for example, when the giant striding Martian machines wreak havoc and slaughter, must have most jaded sci-fi critic looking for a bigger box of popcorn to hide behind.
8 ‘Quatermass 2’ (1957)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
With a screenplay by Nigel Kneale based on his television series of the same name, 1957’s Quatermass 2 was one of the earliest sci-fi films produced by Britain’s Hammer studios. The film has a straightforward narrative about aliens taking over humans, in this instance to help build and keep secret a giant base to house and protect the invaders.
what makes Quatermass 2 special is the way it uses suspicion and paranoia to propel the narrative along, helping to paper over some gaping holes in the story’s logic and scientific plausibility. All in all, it’s a great deal of fun with several scenes of real horror and growing dread.
7 ‘Avatar’ (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Not only has James Cameron‘s 2009 blockbuster become the highest grossing film of all time, its recently released sequel Avatar: The Way of Water is already the 4th highest grossing film of all time. And make no mistake, this is one of cinema’s alien invasion films par excellenceit’s just that in this case, the aliens are humans who are bent on conquest and exploitation.
If the story is sometimes a tad predictable, it’s no mean trick to shift an audience’s perceptions so they end up rooting for the blue-skinned Na’vi instead of the equivalent of the colonial marines. Cameron, who wrote as well as directed Avatarspulls it off in a film where the special effects truly and literally made the world.
6 ‘Invaders from Mars’ (1953)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
For decades, Mars has been a favorite movie setting and origin for alien invasions. HG Wells undoubtedly had a lot to do with that, but Hollywood played its part with films like 1953’s Invaders from Mars. Director William Cameron Menzies was first and foremost a production and art designer, and the film’s low budget benefits from his skilled use of color and lighting.
The story, about a Martian vanguard taking over the minds of townsfolk to prepare for a later invasion, played on American Cold War fears of communist infiltrators as much as the flying saucer scare that was reaching its peak about the same time.
5 ‘Annihilation’ (2018)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
In 2018’s female-led survival thrillerAnnihilationit’s all of nature and evolution itself that’s being taken over. It’s not an alien invasion with any malevolent intent as such; even though never fully explained, the story seems to suggest that what arrived on Earth is a life form that – like a virus or bacteria – infects other life forms, reproduces, mutates, evolves, and spreads.
Many of the mutated creatures inside its sphere of influence, called ‘The Shimmer’, are extraordinary beautiful and sometimes just downright lethal. Once started, Annihilation takes its audience on a wondrous and terrifying journey with a satisfyingly ambiguous ending. This may be the alien invasion film for modern cinema.
4 ‘The War of the Worlds’ (1953)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Surprisingly, it took over fifty years for The War of the Worlds to be made into a film. In the end, the long wait was worth it as the production’s special effects (which won the Academy Award for visual effects in 1953) helped make this one of the great sci-fi films from the 1950s.
Audiences were spellbound by the sight of Martian killing machines floating above the landscape, destroying everything in their path with their heat rays. Produced by George Pal and directed by Byron Haskinthis film set a very high bar for every alien invasion film that followed.
3 ‘The Avengers’ (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Still considered one of the best MCU movies to date, 2012’s The Avengers is, at its core, an alien invasion story where everything from script to acting to direction to production design is so loud it’s like being shouted at through a megaphone. wonderful.
The first Avengers film is also the most light-hearted in the series. It is an almost continuous romp that barely hints at the darker future only finally resolved with 2019’s Avengers: EndgameBut even these hints evaporate during the climax when a virtual conga line of Chitauri invaders are beaten off by Earth’s superheroes and exceptionally colorful defenders.
2 ‘Village of the Damned’ (1960)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
This 1960 film is in many ways the perfect conclusion to the wave of sci-fi films made in the 1950s. Cinema helped give sci-fi mainstream attention, if not always a lot of mainstream credibility, but when good stories were turned into good scripts supported by good directors and producers, films like Village of the Damned became possible, earning respect for the genre and paving the way for other well-written sci-fi films to follow.
The story’s alien invasion is one of the most insidious from the genre. The fact that it involves using humans and their paternal instincts to protect and nurse children who are not remotely human themselves gives the story a special and lasting horror.
1 ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1956)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Alien spores drift to Earth from space, landing in a quiet Californian town and growing into seed pods. At first, no one notices anything amiss, but then locals start claiming their family members and friends have been replaced by someone – or somethe thing – else. Local doctor Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) and his ex-girlfriend Betty Driscoll (Dana Wynter) soon discover that humans are being replaced by duplicates created in the seed pods – exact in every way except they are completely without emotion.
This 1956 film, based on a 1954 novel by Jack Finney, played so cleverly on the audience’s fears of slowly losing not just themselves but all they loved to unseen invaders that it has been remade three times, most successfully in 1978 with Donal Sutherland and Brooke Adams.
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