Posted on Starpulse.com
For centuries human beings have considered the world beyond Earth and wondered if there was life outside of what we know. There have been essays, books, movies, television, and plenty of conspiracy theories about the existence of aliens or extraterrestrial life.
In the past 50 years or so pop culture has been fascinated by this idea and what would happen if the alien nation found its way to our Earth. Would they be like Star Trek, some hostile and some friendly to humankind? Or would they be like Aliens and plan to tear the flesh off our bones?
With ABC bringing back a TV series about alien invasion named “V” this season and “District 9” winning the weekend box office with $37 million last weekend, Starpulse decided to take a look back at the best movies and television about aliens and their nefarious plans for the Earth.
This movie was based on a novel by Jack Finney. It is considered one of the essential alien and sci-fi movies, and it was voted into the American Film Institute’s top ten science fiction films. Based in California, it is about a doctor named Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) who has several patients that start accusing their partners of being imposters. One of them is his former girlfriend Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter). At first everyone brushes off these allegations as rubbish, but Bennell soon realizes that the accused citizens are actually Pod People. They come from plant pods and emerge identical to the humans they have killed and intend to slowly take over the entire world. It is sincerely terrifying to think of your loved one secretly being taken over by an alien and all without you even realizing it before you’re next on their list. The movie has an ambiguous ending with no resolution, and it struck fear into the hearts of all the movie goers. You’re next, you’re next! The term “pod people” has stuck in pop culture and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” still holds a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. There have been remakes since, but none of them hold up to the original, spine-chilling film.
Forget the updated Keanu Reeves film, because the original far surpasses it. The original film involves an UFO arriving in Washington, D.C. and the pilot Klaatu (Michael Rennie) coming out to declare himself a diplomat. He is wounded by a soldier since tension is on the rise, and it causes the first appearance of his robot friend Gort to come out and threaten the humans. Gort keeps them from entering Klaatu’s ship as he tries to meet with the world leaders. Klaatu escapes the government to try and live as a normal human and get to know the species from the inside. In time he reveals that he is there to warn mankind that if they continued on the path of self-destruction and violence against one another, the aliens would have to step in. They would destroy Earth to protect their danger from spreading. This film was a veiled attempt at discussing the rising tension between different nations in the real world and how dangerous a path mankind was stepping down as nuclear weapons were being created. It was also part of AFI’s top ten science fiction films, and while no aliens actually invaded planet Earth, the warning was more than enough to get the audience thinking.
Independence Day (1996)
Alright, Independence Day is not nearly as thoughtful as the last two films, but it still made over $800 million dollars worldwide and is one of the most memorable alien-attack films of all time. On July 2 several giant alien ships arrive and stop over important cities all over the world. No one knows what they are there for, until cable man (genius) David (Jeff Goldblum) finds a transmission that shows a timer counting down. To what? Well, what do you think! He manages to save his ex-wife Constance (Margaret Colin) and with her help convince the President (Bill Pullman) to leave Washington before the aliens attack. The attack itself is a visually horrifying thing to witness, with the cities blown to pieces and millions of lives lost in an instant. With the help of fighter pilot Steven (Will Smith), David figures out a plan to take the alien mothership down before any more human blood can be spilled. At the time it was released, this was one of the best special effects movies, and it won the Academy Award for Visual Effects. While there wasn’t much social commentary or underlining themes, it was entertaining, fun, action-packed, and a great summer blockbuster.
“V: The Series” only lasted one season on NBC, unfortunately. It came after two mini-series about a group of aliens called “The Visitors” who tried to take over the Earth. The Visitors are reptiles that take on the form of humans, and they originally come promising peace and friendship to humanity. They share technology in return for minerals that they need, but slowly the Visitors start taking over the planet and turn human minds against one another by using propaganda and subterfuge. The humans create a resistance movement and the actual TV show takes place after many battles have gone on. It is a shame the show did not get more time considering how fascinating the mini-series were, but now it is getting a brand new shot at success thanks to ABC. It remains to be seen how much the new series “V” will have in common with this show, but it couldn’t hurt to be in the know. Wink wink nudge nudge.
The X-Files (1993-2002)
The truth is out there! Just ask Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). After nine seasons of “The X-Files,” they know the truth and are probably very tired of it. The show is one of the most long lasting science fiction series on television, although “Stargate SG-1” did officially surpass it at ten seasons. It’s overwhelming fan support and millions of viewers kept it on the air for a long time, and “The X-Files” was all about the unknown. Mulder’s real obsession on the show, however, was aliens. His sister disappeared in his childhood, and it led Fox to eventually conclude that she was abducted by aliens. This led him into the mystery and eventually he was assigned to the secret paranormal investigations unit of the FBI. While “The X-Files” dealt with government conspiracy and paranormal creatures of all kinds, it always came back to the aliens. Especially when he got abducted himself; then it got even more personal!
3rd Rock from the Sun (1996-2001)
This quirky sitcom lasted six seasons on NBC and starred a group of four aliens who come to planet Earth on an investigation mission. They consider Earth to be a low priority, and it may explain why the family is rather inept at their job. Still, the purpose is to gather information so that one day their race can take over Earth. What kind of aliens they are is never explained, but their leader is apparently called “The Big Giant Head.” The sitcom starred John Lithgow as the leader Dick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the teenager Tommy, Kristen Johnston as Sally the woman, and French Stewart as Harry … the weirdo. They each dealt with human life and began to attach to humans, establishing jobs and relationships along the way. Most of the humor derives from their utter innocence about human culture, although occasionally it was about snickering at humans for their “stupidity” compared to alien races. It was an amusing and successful sitcom for many years, and come on, if you had to be taken over by a race of aliens, wouldn’t the Soloman’s be the best choice?