“I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off”

My choices for the ten best Dramatic Aliens films:

  • Alien
  • The Abyss
  • Dark City
  • Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
  • The Thing
  • Aliens
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
  • Lifeforce
  • Independence Day

My choices for the five best Comedic Aliens films:

  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Men In Black
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Mars Attacks
  • The Iron Giant

Aliens from outer space! How many times were those words on marquees in the ’50s. Probably too many as that decade wasn’t known for high quality science fiction. Still, there were a few winners, such as the politically liberal The Day the Earth Stood Still, the conservative Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the numbingly religious spectacle War of the Worlds. The alien film was relegated to B-movie status, and still is for the most part, but exceptions are more common now. The ’70s were the time of change, with smarter, big budget extraterrestrial movies appearing.

So, what am I counting as an Alien movie?  Being from space isn’t enough (this is the Aliens list, not an extraterrestrial list).  This isn’t the place for galactic empires where intelligent creatures from all over the universe mingle in a bar.  No Star Wars or Star Trek where the pointy eared guy is a common sight.  Alien films look at the universe as a conflict between us and them.  The “them” in question is mysterious, unknown or unknowable, and often frightening.

A large number of Alien films are both science fiction and horror.  Ridley Scott’s Alien is a brilliant, genre-changing movie in both categories.  But not all the films here contain frights.  Some are adventure tales while others go for laughs.

Alien films tend to follow one of several plots.  The most common in the ’90s and ’00s has been the Alien/Aliens rip-off “bug in a can” story.  A group of miss-matched humans in a sealed facility face a single, nearly unstoppable, kill-everything-it-meets, alien monster.  The creature doesn’t speak or use tools, and generally is attempting to reproduce.  To ratchet up the ‘tension,’ there is a time limit, beyond which the facility will be destroyed or permanently sealed.  In most cases, the monster was made and/or released by a mad scientist or a greedy corporation or a weapons division of the government.  Variations follow the differences between Alien and Aliens with the introduction of multiple monsters and soldiers replacing the trapped blue color workers and scientists.

Another common story has humans possessed by the aliens.  These are paranoia flicks with the main characters spending most of their time trying to determine who is still one of “us.”

Aliens Reviews:

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Aliens Films Sorted by Year:

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