Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Space Invaders: 14 Aliens Attack Movies

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist March 10, 2011 at 5:39AM

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.
12

Killer Klowns From Outer Space" (1988)
The toughest movie to make in Hollywood is a horror-comedy. Not only because of the marketing challenge, but also because it can be difficult to handle that terror of the unknown with the familiar recognition that assists our laughs. So consider it a surprise that this ludicrous B-movie, where a race of alien clowns descend from the sky to turn us into cotton candy snacks, works so well. While there is humor to be mined from the typical collection of horny teens, the winning stroke from writer-directors the Chiodo Brothers is playing the threat of these red-nosed bozos completely straight. A moment when a regular citizen challenges a clown to a fist fight produces laughs when the clown emerges with boxing gloves, only for the towering monster to punch his head clean off. It’s a moment of cheese ball ridiculousness that quickly evolves into something oddly upsetting, perfectly capturing the film’s odd appeal. [B]

Monsters” (2010)
Made for a fraction of “District 9”’s budget, director Gareth Edwards’s impressive debut imagines an equally compelling world where alien lifeforms remain confined to an area cordoned off by the U.S. and Central America. The “infected zone” includes most of Mexico, but “Monsters” only briefly suggests any overt criticism of U.S. illegal immigration policies, and Edwards himself denies it. Instead, he chose for the zone to serve as a backdrop to a burgeoning romance between two people significantly out of their element -- callous photo-journalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) and his boss’ daughter Samantha (Whitney Able). Kaulder is tasked with transporting Samantha back to the States, where her father and fiance await. The pair run into some trouble and are forced to bribe their way into and across the zone, and inevitably come in contact with the alien species that has taken root and to some degree flourished, despite being under constant fire from the world outside. Edwards' film is a keeper entirely because it shifts focus to the two leads and watches them develop -- we are free to draw what conclusions we may about this world, but once our investment with Kaulder and Sam is set in motion, the film hits emotional notes large scale sci-fi rarely manages. [B]

Signs" (2002)
Ah, remember the good old days when M. Night Shyamalan was more concerned with entertaining us than teaching us things? While "Signs" does lean a little too heavily on the everything-happens-for-a-reason hokum that would ultimately derail his once flourishing career, it remains one of Shyamalan's funniest and scariest contraptions. The crop circle angle, too, was an ingenious way to approach the alien invasion conceit, letting a compelling family drama (led by winning performances by Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix) anchor the apocalyptic plot mechanics. While the final act could use some more oomph (the monster design, resembling a walking asparagus, is genuinely terrible), "Signs" is a smart, stylish, suspenseful little piece, gorgeously photographed by Tak Fujimoto with a jangle-your-nerve-endings Herrmannesque score by James Newton Howard. It's also whole leagues apart from Night's next "scary" movie, "The Happening," in which the globe was menaced by the terrifying threat of gently rippling grass. [B+]

This article is related to: Films, Feature, Battle: Los Angeles


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates