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Thirteen of the Best Alien Movies of All Time

Alien & UFO

Thirteen of the Best Alien Movies of All Time

Thirteen of the Best Alien Movies of All Time

Does life exist beyond our world? According to the movies, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Filmmakers have had a long fascination with extraterrestrials, starting back in 1902 with the release of the French film Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). Believed to be the first movie portraying an alien encounter, the silent short follows a group of astronomers who arrive on the moon’s surface after being shot out of a giant cannon and discover a group of lunar inhabitants living there.

Alien movies have become decidedly more elaborate since then and include some of the most spectacular visual effects ever brought to the big screen. Over the years, it has become a genre all its own. A genre where you’ll find goofball aliens, aliens that crack jokes, creatures that use humans as their hosts, aliens that survive on human blood, and visitors set on destroying life on earth as we know it. You’ll find extraterrestrial beings who come in peace, and those who definitely do not, on this list of the best alien movies.

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E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg’s story of friendship between a boy and a gentle, plant-loving extraterrestrial was instantly popular when it was released in 1982. The film also received four Academy Awards, including a win for John Williams’ lush score, and continues to top lists of best films for families.

Super 8 (2011)

Set during the summer of 1979, this film follows a group of friends  who witness a train crash while making a film with a Super 8 camera. The train’s cargo is a mystery, but soon strange events begin unfolding in their small Ohio town.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

This comedy stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman as down-on-their-luck actors best known for playing a spaceship crew on a TV show called Galaxy Quest. The show is mistaken for a documentary by actual aliens, who beam up the cast believing they can help save the universe from a terrifying creature.

Alien (1979)

Sigourney Weaver stars as a Ripley, a warrant officer aboard the spaceship Nostromo. When she and the rest of the crew respond to a distress signal, they inadvertently bring a deadly creature onboard. With a tagline of “In space, no one can hear you scream,” it’s no wonder Alien remains among the scariest and most suspenseful space monster movies ever made.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

This landmark 1951 science-fiction film sees an alien, Klaatu, and his robot, Gort, land their flying saucer in Washington, D.C. The pair is there to deliver a powerful message for the people of Earth: learn to live peacefully and stop the development of atomic weapons, or be destroyed because of the danger posed to other planets.

Men In Black (1997)

This family-friendly film follows the adventures of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, who play members of a secret alien-policing squad known as Men in Black. Their current mission: prevent an intergalactic terrorist from destroying the planet.

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg’s masterful alien-encounter movie stars Richard Dreyfuss as repairman Roy Neary, who has a life-altering encounter with a UFO while out on a call one night. As he becomes increasingly obsessed with visions of a mountain, strange and unexplained things start to happen to others, too.

The Abyss (1989)

Not every alien comes from outer space—the creatures in this James Cameron thriller live deep within the ocean. Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio star as an estranged couple who must work together on a dive to recover a U.S. submarine and encounter the otherworldly creatures along the way.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

While there have been remakes, the original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers remains the gold standard (and unlike the 1978 version is PG enough for the kids). In it, a doctor in a small California town discovers members of his community are being replaced by aliens.

Contact (1997)

Adapted from astronomer Carl Sagan’s novel, this drama stars Jodie Foster as Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a scientist who uncovers a message sent from space with plans for building a ship that will enable humans to make contact with an alien race.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Real life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski play an onscreen husband and wife forced to live in silence to protect their family from killer aliens who hunt humans by sound.

Independence Day (1996)

When aliens invade the planet, it’s up to a group of survivors including Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Randy Quaid to save the world. Not only is Independence Day action packed, it also includes one of the most rousing speeches ever given by a movie president delivered by Bill Pullman.

Flight of The Navigator (1986)

After falling into a ravine and being knocked unconscious one night, 12-year-old David Freeman wakes to find that eight years have passed, though he hasn’t aged a day. It’s discovered David is somehow linked to a spaceship that’s been captured by NASA, a ship he soon finds himself piloting alongside an alien robot.

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Jordan Heath is a writer, artist, musician, and amateur historian. He’s the co-host of Campfire: Tales of the Strange and Unsettling and a contributing writer at Paranormality Magazine. A husband and father of five, this bonafide enthusiast of all things bizarre is on a personal quest to revel in the mysteries found in the blurry edges of our reality.

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