As far as alien movies go, it’s hard to beat this classic. The stir-crazy spaceship crew is more pot-addled dorm-room philosophers than scientists, and the bouncy creature itself is a character in its own right. For its time, Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a groundbreaking approach to alien invasion stories. It remains a beloved movie, and a favorite of families.
1. Alien (1979)
Few movies can match the visceral terror of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic. Sigourney Weaver is just brilliant as the Nostromo crew: Captain Dallas (Harrison Forrest), who’s almost comically laid-back; science officer Ash (Ian Holm), whose gallows humor is off-putting; and grunts Kane (John Hurt) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto), who spend most of their time arguing about who doesn’t deserve their full bonuses.
Alien was the first movie to successfully cross-pollinate sci-fi and horror, and the homicidal alien creature remains one of cinema’s most iconic images. The film is a terrifying ode to the dark side of humanity.
2. Aliens (1982)
Although it may be a remake, this James Cameron effort has earned its place on the list for its tense suspense and outstanding special effects. The film builds on the original, expanding upon H. R. Giger’s design includes the alien queen, and delivers an even more thrilling experience.
Sigourney Weaver’s performance in the first Alien cemented her status as an action star, and this superior sequel amplified its impact with a gruesome Xenomorph climax. It also made its terraformed colony setting (where the eggs and facehugger were discovered in the 1979 film) feel more dangerous.
This science fiction thriller combines an engaging story of aliens and humankind with jaw-dropping visuals. Its engrossing premise — and a heartfelt depiction of inter-species communication and first contact — makes it an iconic classic. In this film, a family finds themselves at the center of an alien invasion.
3. Alien 3 (1987)
Starring Sigourney Weaver, the crew of a spacecraft encounters a deadly lifeform that is capable of taking on the form of its victims. The shape-shifting alien wreaks havoc on the crew, with Ripley ultimately becoming the hunter rather than the hunted.
Neill Blomkamp’s feature film debut is one of the most interesting and challenging alien movies of recent years. Set in Johannesburg, the cineb movie tackles issues of apartheid and xenophobia in an absorbing sci-fi setting.
Sigourney Weaver is back as the sexy space marine in this sequel to the original Alien. The film suffers from bad directing by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but it does have some memorable moments including an alien who loves Reese’s Pieces. Lance Henriksen and Holt McCallany are also in fine form. A worthy if not essential addition to the franchise.
4. Alien: Resurrection (1993)
Sometimes you want smart, thought-provoking sci-fi; other times you just want to see Natasha Henstridge morph into a saucy blonde and kill some aliens. Alien Resurrection scratches the latter itch, and does it well.
Director John Carpenter gives us a little bit of everything in this movie: suspense, action, and some unforgettable practical effects (including an intestine-infested space suit). Co-writer Frank Darabont also does his part to craft a story pitting small-town characters against a big gelatinous alien and military thugs.
Sigourney Weaver is back as Ripley, and she proves to be as tough and amoral as ever. But the re-invention of her character strips away some of her subtle nuances, and her character seems less interesting as a result. Despite all this, the film still delivers some great B-movie fun and an impressively creepy alien invasion.
5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
One of the more disturbing alien movies out there, Invasion of the Body Snatchers depicts an invasion by a highly intelligent species that possesses the ability to splice their own DNA into their victims to mimic them. The movie and its two remakes remain a frightening look at what happens when paranoia takes hold.
In this sci-fi thriller, an electric lineman’s life is turned upside down by an encounter with a UFO that leads to his town being overrun by emotionless duplicates. The film’s unnerving plot and edge-of-your-seat scenes make it a true classic. It also features a memorable ad-lib from Bill Paxton that is guaranteed to stick in your head.