While the genre never really goes away, once a decade or so the alien invasion picture suddenly hits the zeitgeist. It happened in the 1950s with the slew of B-movies, it happened in the 1990s as "The X-Files" captured the public's imagination, and for whatever reason (birthers? immigration concerns? a shortage of fake teeth for vampire movies?) it's happening again now.
Last November saw "Skyline" start to broach the subject in a big way, hot on the heels of the surprise hit "District 9," and the coming weeks and months sees Greg Mottola's comedy "Paul," Joe Cornish's much-buzzed-about "Attack the Block," the western hybrid "Cowboys & Aliens" and the Russian-set actioner "The Darkest Hour" hitting theaters. But first up, unfortunately, is "Battle: Los Angeles" which, as our review from yesterday will attest, is one of the more painful theatrical experiences in recent memory.
Fortunately, there's plenty of far superior pictures dealing with the same subject matter in a much more watchable manner, so we've delved into the archives to pick out a selection of seminal movies featuring alien aggressors that will make you feel something other than a fear of "Clash of the Titans 2" and concern for Aaron Eckhart's career.
“The Blob" (1958)
There are twin invasions present in the 1958 "The Blob," and both signify a direct threat to the good townspeople -- both the amorphous alien menace and… the emergence of teenagers (led by Steve McQueen). Authorities don't believe the kids when they say that a blobby bit of galactic goo has started to eat people and grow in size. But then, of course, they figure it out too late (about the time it takes up an entire movie theater). "The Blob" is a quaint, easy-going drive-in movie that probably won't scare you today but is still likely to make you smile. It should also be noted that Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell crafted a sturdy remake in the late '80s that upped the gore quotient with elaborate special effects but retained the rebellious teens-versus-small town authority core that made the original so indelible. [B]
“Independence Day" (1996)
Fiercely nationalistic, casually racist, and embarrassingly entertaining, Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” could be B-moviemaking at its silly best. An army of “that guys”--and some genuine stars like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum--take on the invading hordes and (spoiler alert) win, as the whole world waits for America to save the day on the Fourth of July. It’s easy to be sarcastic about this bombastic, over-the-top blockbuster with a blush-inducing St. Crispin’s Day speech delivered by the president (Bill Pullman), but it’s far easier to just have fun and enjoy the effects-driven ride. But as much as the city-sized UFOs and telepathic aliens push the story toward its gleefully inevitable conclusion, Smith’s charm is what makes it all watchable over a decade later. [B]