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10 Great Alien Movies

Updated on August 30, 2017

I Want to Believe

Whether they're peaceful creatures from another planet or invading forces bent on the destruction of Earth, everyone loves a great alien movie! Here's ten of the greats, from the 1959 cult classic train wreck Plan 9 from Outer Space to the 1996 summer blockbuster Independence Day, and on to the 2009 3D animation flick Monsters vs Aliens. These films are for all types of sci-fi aficionados. Klaatu barada nikto!

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

From Out Of Space... A Warning And An Ultimatum

Synopsis: During the Cold War, a flying saucer lands on the Mall in Washington, DC. Klaatu, a member of an alien race, and his large, powerful robot, Gort, have come to Earth to bring a message. After learning about humans, Klaatu's true reasons for being on Earth are revealed, reasons that can bring about the destruction of Earth.

Cast: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Billy Gray, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, and Frances Bavier

Background: The aim of producer Julian Blaustein was to create a film that not only promoted a strong United Nations but also to illustrate the suspicion and fear of the Cold War and Atomic Age. Noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed Klaatu's spaceship. The film was added to the preservation list of the United States National Film Registry, deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film was remade in 2008, starring Keanu Reeves.

Invasion Risk: Pretty high, when you bring a giant robot to Earth that can only be controlled by a secret phrase.

The War of the Worlds (1953)

The original invasion!

Synopsis: Based on the classic novel written by H.G. Well's, the residents of Earth are invaded by aliens from Mars, who are seemingly unstoppable. There seems no hope to save the human race from these Martian war machines...

Cast: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, and Robert Cornthwaite

Background: The film was updated to the 1950s from the 1898 setting of the novel. The film received an Oscar for its special effects. A remake of the film, starring Tom Cruise, was released in 2005 and the film also received a sequel, of sorts, in the form of a television series in 1988. It has also inspired countless other science fiction films and pop culture trivia.

Invasion Risk: The granddaddy of all invasion films should still be able to inspire panic in even the most jaded of today's audiences!

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Aliens Resurrecting The Dead! Flying Saucers Over Hollywood!

Synopsis: Angered by the stupidity of the human race and trying to stop the humans from creating a doomsday device, a pair of aliens set up shop in a Californian cemetery. Intending to raise the dead as zombies to attack and destroy the capitals of Earth, an airline pilot must stop these villainous martians!

Cast: Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tom Keene, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, John Breckinridge, Vampira, and Béla Lugosi

Background: Originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space, the film was full of multiple errors and continuity problems. Béla Lugosi was billed as a star, but had actually died before the film was made. Footage shot two years previous for another film used by director Ed Wood in the movie. It is often declared "the worst film ever made". The film has since become a cult classic and director Ed Wood received a posthumous Golden Turkey Award for worst director ever.

Invasion Risk: Minimal, as no one in the film really knows what they're trying to accomplish.

Alien (1979)

In space no one can hear you scream.

Synopsis: After receiving distress call transmission while headed back to Earth, the crew of a mining ship discover the eggs of a parasitic alien creature, who subsequently returns with them to their ship. As crew members begin to die one by one, it is up to the survivors to stop the alien from returning with them to Earth.

Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, and Yaphet Kotto

Background: Directed by Ridley Scott, the film became a box office success and was awarded an Oscar for "Best Visual Effects". Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger designed the alien. The film was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2002. It has also spawned three sequels, novels, comic books, video games, and toys. There have also been two prequels that crossover with the "Predator" franchise.

Invasion Risk: Terrifyingly high, as the xenomorphs are virtually unstoppable!

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

He is afraid. He is alone. He is three million light years from home.

Synopsis: During an exploration expedition to Earth, an extra terrestrial is left behind. Befriended by a lonely boy named Elliot and dubbed E.T., his survival depends on his return to his home planet. Will Elliot, his little sister Gertie, and their friends be able to make contact and get E.T. back home?

Cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote

Background: The concept for the film dated back to the 1960s, when director Steven Spielberg dreamed up an imaginary friend to deal with the painful emotions caused by his parents' divorce. Upon its release, the film became a successful blockbuster, with a theatrical re-release in 1985 and an enhanced version in 2002. The film inspired other science fiction/fantasy films and has lodged itself firmly in pop culture.

Invasion Risk: Minimal, as E.T. is too adorable. You should be more scared of the government agents then this alien visitor.

Spaced Invaders (1990)

Earth Will Never Be The Same!

Synopsis: After picking up a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' classic War of the Worlds, a crew of a Martian invasion force lands in a backwater town in the Mid-West to find out it's only Halloween. Making friends with two children, their invasion plans soon turn to comedy as they are mistaken for trick-or-treaters.

Cast: Douglas Barr, Ariana Richards, Royal Dano, Gregg Berger, and Wayne Alexander

Background: A truly "B"-list sci-fi comedy, the film featured a young Ariana Richards, who would play Lex Murphy in Jurassic Park three years later. The original trailer stated the film was about aliens visiting Earth for "Spring Break" but was subsequently changed.

Invasion Risk: Only thing you'll risk is a stomach ache from laughter.

Independence Day (1996)

We've always believed we weren't alone. Pretty soon, we'll wish we were.

Synopsis: On July 2nd, they arrived. On July 3rd, the alien invaders obliterated the metropolises of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. On July 4th, the human race fights back to win its freedom. The stories of multiple survivors are interwoven in this sci-fi action-adventure blockbuster.

Cast: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Margaret Colin, Vivica A. Fox, and Randy Quaid

Background: The film started the trend of large-scale disaster flicks and at the head of the science fiction resurgences during the mid-to-late-1990s. It also spawned increased interest in dolphin-themed jewelry. The creators have since toyed with creating one or two sequels but the projects have never left the discussion stage.

Invasion Risk: Pretty risky, as these creatures are hell bent on human destruction. Human ingenuity just might save the day.

Men in Black (1997)

Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe

Synopsis: When Agent K and his new recruit partner, Agent J, find themselves embroiled in a deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist bug to to steal a galaxy, the MiB must track down the bug and save the Earth from destruction. Just another typical day for these mysterious agents.

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Vincent D'Onofrio, Linda Fiorentino, and Rip Torn

Background: The film is based on the comic book series by Lowell Cunningham. There are several references and tributes to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It won the Oscar for Best Makeup and was given a sequel, Men in Black II, which was followed by Men in Black 3, released in 2011.

Invasion Risk: Minimal, since most of them are already on the planet, but that comes with its own sets of problems.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

The show has been cancelled...but the adventure is just beginning.

Synopsis: Eighteen years after their sci-fi adventure show "Galaxy Quest" was canceled, the "crew" of the fictional series are making the rounds at sci-fi conventions to appease the fans of the cult classic show. It isn't until a race of aliens, who have studied the broadcasts of the series and believe them to be "historical documents", ask the crew to help save them from destruction that fantasy meets reality.

Cast: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Rainn Wilson, and Sam Rockwell

Background: Acknowledged homage to the Star Trek franchise, the film features numerous references to plot lines, characters, and the real life actors who took part in various Star Trek projects. This was also the film debut for Justin Long and Rainn Wilson.

Invasion Risk: Invading only to find humans who can help them repel invasions from their home systems.

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Synopsis: After being hit by a meteor from outer space on her wedding day, Susan Murphy finds herself turned into a giantess. Now being held in a secret military facility, she meets the other "monsters": B.O.B., Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D., The Missing Link, and Insectosaurus. After Gallaxhar, a malicious alien who is seeking quantonium, invades earth, these "monsters" are unleashed to save Earth.

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Conrad Vernon, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Rudd

Background: The film was the first computer animated movie to be directly produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format. The film's release on home DVD included a new short, B.O.B.'s Big Break and during October 2009 a Halloween special, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, featuring the characters aired on NBC. Nickelodeon has ordered a pilot for a Monsters vs. Aliens cartoon series.

Invasion Risk: High but planet Earth has its own "special" team to fight back!

Watch the Skies!

Do you think there is life on other planets?

Take Me To Your Leader!

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great lens. I also enjoyed "Mars Attacks" and "Paul".

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great selection!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a great list. The only one missing is The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. Thnks

    • Jadelynx-HP profile image

      Tracey Boyer 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      I think that Independence Day was like the all time best alien invasion movie....I loved it !!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Alien and ET were great movies. Cool lens!

    • PopArtGirl profile image


      7 years ago

      I've always loved Alien - Veronica Cartwright rocks!

    • christopherwell profile image


      7 years ago

      Great collection of movies! (Although, I must confess, I've only see PLAN 9 in "RiffTrax" form.)

    • JeanJohnson LM profile image

      JeanJohnson LM 

      7 years ago

      I enjoyed this movie list. I love Galaxy Quest and we watch that pretty often. My kids love Monsters vs. Aliens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great list. Thanks for sharing this

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, I like all of theses movies. They are all great! ~ Well done Miss Bat!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      You found some of my most favorite alien movies! And some of the funniest! Great job.


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