For the first time on EatSleepLiveFilm, I’ve decided to make a list and this will be for my personal favourite aliens in films. For this list I’ll exclude films where the protagonists and characters are based in another part of the universe altogether. So films such as Star Wars, The Chronicles of Riddick and The Dark Crystal need not apply. I do harbour a lot of love for those films, this will strictly be alien films where human beings from Earth are involved. Here they are in no discernible order (except Aliens first as its the best)…….
Alien & Aliens (the scariest aliens)
A seminal horror film followed up by a sequel which happens to be my personal favourite film of all time. The Aliens saga has been met with some contention from fans due to the lacklustre Alien 3 and the godawful Alien
Resurrection (part 4) not to mention the two terrible Aliens vs Predator films. Yes, the poor old Xenomorphs have had a rough ride of late but don’t let this distract you from the utter brilliance of the first two films of the franchise, just block the rest from your mind as I do. In my head, there are only 2 Alien films and Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop lived happily ever after. As for entertainment from this franchise, there’s plenty to be found in these first two installments. White knuckle terror in the first followed by wall to wall action in the second but still retains a veritable shittonne of depth. On top of this we get the scariest alien creatures ever conceived for the big screen next to Carpenter’s The Thing remake. Their entire lives from birth to death is the stuff of the darkest nightmares. Nothing since has even come close.
Predator 1 & 2 (the most badass aliens)
You can’t go far from mentioning Aliens without bringing up the iconic Predators. Arnies first predator installment blew everyone away in its time at the cinemas, I can still personally remember the reactions from my older brothers and their friends although I wasn’t old enough to be allowed in to see it. The Predator is a formidable foe but with the difference that it is a creature with honour and will give you a fighting chance. It is a hunter after all and there’s no fun in sitting ducks. Predator 2, although nowhere near the greatness of the first, is still a very acceptable entry into the franchise. Danny Glover’s performance was marvelously over the top. I was very much less enamoured with the third Predators however and it has almost faded from memory completely. This series has lost its mojo. The AvP films are an affront to both species, so I’ll not go any further with those.
District 9 (the most destitute aliens)
Here is a film that I saw the trailer for and instantly dismissed it as looking like crap. The dusty shanty towns of Johannesburg, the alternate history of aliens having been stranded here 20 years ago and a bunch of no name actors in a film by a no name director turned me right off. This was also a huge wake up call for me when it turned out to be easily my favourite film of the new millennium. Considering the dislike I have of altering history in films, this film jumped over that hurdle so damn well that it didn’t even matter by 20 minutes in. Utterly captivating in every way, an interesting directing style change halfway through and an explosive punch the air finale with a tinge of sadness to cap it off. A perfect storm of a film where all the elements came together and the planets aligned. The aliens themselves emote so well, you actually forget that they aren’t at all real. This is my only film where I almost cried for a completely CG character. An awesome feat for New Zealand’s WETA Studios. Worthy of mention is all the cool alien technology, especially the mech at the end and all rendered in glorious bright sunlight and looking ultra realistic. No darkness or fog to hide the Fact CG is being used here. A true testament to WETA’s skill.
The Thing (the most disgusting alien)
John Carpenter may be the laughing stock of Hollywood directors as of late, but no one can take away from his past work. Carpenter has two films on my list which is saying something. He has a back catalogue of films that any director would kill to have, most notably his remake of The Thing. This film turned what could be done with practical effects on its head and made the stomachs of many punters turn in gooey disgust. Carpenter’s take on the alien itself brought forward a type of film I had never seen before. Although it has existed in one form or another with films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing does the paranoid “who is an alien and who is not” theme the best. The tension in the film is palpable and the overall creepy tone is something we just don’t see anymore. The alien itself is among the scariest creations ever and if it existed in reality, we’d all be screwed.
Independence Day (the warmongering aliens)
Yes this film is utterly absurd. Ridiculous, unlikely, entirely too coincidental and just plain cheesy but you know what? It’s still one hell of a ride and completely enjoyable despite its truckload of shortcomings. Not easy for a film to do, I might add. Roland Emmerich released a film that broke new ground and left audiences in awestruck fascination for the aliens with city sized ships. When that first ship breaks through the cloud cover and into view of the denizens below, audiences everywhere were left gobsmacked at what they were seeing before them. Add to this the spectacular destruction of famous monuments in glorious detail, fighter plane vs alien ship dogfights and you have yourself a winner with the crowds. The aliens themselves were pretty uninspiring and seemed to be much more of an afterthought but it was their planet destroying technology we all went gaga over. Deeply flawed brilliance, but brilliance nonetheless.
The Hidden (the…erm……hidden alien)
Aaahh yes. This may be the one film on the list many of you have never heard of. This is the story of an alien coming to earth who likes debauchery, fast cars and heavy metal with a penchant for destruction and chaos. Forcing his gross black slug like self into the mouth of an unwilling human, he essentially takes the person over body snatchers style and washes, rinses and repeats the act of robbing banks, stealing cars and cranking the stereo all while doing it. Once its human is “worn out” it plays dead until it can find another human to transfer into. This pesky alien is being persued by a smart cop and a creepy FBI agent played by the equally creepy Kyle McLachlan. This is a fun film and despite its age, still is widely regarded as a great film in cult film circles. There’s plenty of humour abound that actually comes off well in a time where a lot of films tried and failed and the acting is surprisingly more than competent. A good case of an A-grade quality, B-grade styled film. Bravo.
Speaking of A-grade quality, B-grade styled film, here we have a plain B-grade film but a whole lot of fun all the same. Critters was a childhood favourite of mine and even though it has aged somewhat, it’s still worth checking out. Hairy little furball aliens with more teeth than fur escape their extra-terrestrial prison and make a break for Earth, being pursued by two humourless shapeshifting bounty hunters. As the Critters feed, the bigger they get and feed on anything they do, including the townspeople in a small agricultural town with a final battle with the bounty hunters at the home of our unsuspecting protagonists. Although the critters are the main attraction and point of interest in the film, it’s easily usurped by the bounty hunters themselves, one of which takes on the form of a famous rockstar and the other one never deciding on a final form. A more than enjoyable popcorn flick.
Galaxy Quest (the innocently moronic aliens)
This hilarious parody of everything Star Trek hit right on the button for many people, myself included. Being a fan of Sci-Fi and not just Star Wars or Star Trek, I found this film to be utterly hilarious and I’m sure the Trekkies out there can get on board with it also. This is by far a smarter parody of Star Trek than Spaceballs was to Star Wars. Confused aliens mistake a cheesy Trek style tv show transmitted from Earth as actual historical documentation of a fearless commander and his brave crew overcoming adversity in the face of annihilation. The aliens require their help in their plight of being systematically eradicated by the evil green lobsterheaded alien, Sarris. Unbeknownst to the actors, they’re thrust into an intergalactic battle for survival whilst trying to maintain the charade of the characters they play in their show. Both the Aliens recruiting the help of the Galaxy Quest crew and Sarris with his numerous henchmen provide plenty of laughs and even some poignant and even sad moments. Sarris though, being this big scary looking macho green alien and spouting phrases like “my ship will tear through yours like tissue paper!” just have to be laughed at with regards to how such lines are delivered. The film is a comedic masterpiece and has Sigourney Weaver for the second time on this list, but this time looking hotter than ever. Mmmmmmm.
Starman (the nicest alien)
John Carpenter goes from one terrifying shapeshifting gooey monster from outer space to a nice loving childlike shape shifting alien in Starman. Karen Allen stars as Jenny, a recently widowed wife who is nowhere near being over it. During one night, an alien lands and enters her house, rifling through all her stuff, eventually happening upon a photo album with photos of her dead husband and some locks of his hair. The alien then uses the photos and DNA supplied by the hair to change into a direct clone of her husband, played by Jeff Bridges. The two pair up after an obviously awkward beginning and Jenny eventually sets out to help the Starman get to his rendezvous point to get back home before he’s left there to die. The Authorities are also hot on the trail with the knowledge that the person of interest is not of this earth. Jeff Bridges’ performance in this film is incredible. He takes the material and really delivers a believable performance of an alien with no bloody idea of anything around him and slowly learning as he goes. The film says a lot about the human condition and makes you look at yourself introspectively as there’s plenty of moments of human bastardry going on, while the Starman looks on confused. A very touching film and a great one to watch with a partner who’s not particularly into all that Sci-Fi stuff.
The Fifth Element (the sexiest hybrid alien)
This is by far THE most outrageous and fun film of the lot. None of it is made to take seriously and most of it is played for laughs. I won’t delve into plot synopsis on this one as any self respecting film goer would have seen this a few times (if you can handle Ruby Rhod!) The Fifth Element is kind of like making a child eat a large assortment of very brightly colored candy, come up with an insane script for a film then throw up all over it. That’s not to say its bad though, just frenetic, colorful, crazy, ridiculous and plain bloody awesome. How a film like this ever got a green light for production is beyond me but I am glad it exists and it’s generally considered a classic in most circles. The aliens themselves are varied in intellect and looks. From bright blue, pointy headed opera singers to daft, stupid, ogreish buffoons who never get anything right but destruction of their surroundings and themselves. Couple this with the very human Korbin Dallas (Bruce Willis), the half human/alien hybrid hottie Leeloo Dallas Multipass (Milla Jovovich), a surprising turn at comedy with Ian Holm as the priest and a superb performance from Gary Oldman as a malevolent twat. The Fifth Element is a very high recommend but be warned, Chris Tucker’s character Ruby Rhod is an acquired taste for sure, but I loved him. This film is entertainment personified.
Noteable mentions go to Transformers 1 and Cloverfield. Although I really, really loved the first Transformers film, the second two really tainted the whole thing for me and I don’t really care to watch it again simply because what followed. Shallow? Yes….but I can’t help the way I feel about that. Cloverfield however is definitely one of my favourite “alien” flicks except with a little research you’ll find that it didn’t come from another planet supposedly, but from the deepest darkest parts of the bottom of our own oceans. So that counts it out too, being that it’s native to planet Earth. Avatar didn’t even get a look in….simply because it sucked arse. (yes, even with James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver). What are some of your favorites people? I know I’m gonna kick myself when I see some suggestions that I may have missed.