We don’t tend to think of aliens as creepy. They’re firmly rooted within the science fiction genre, but have made a huge mark on virtually every other genre as well. Some of the best action/adventure pictures ever made deal with extraterrestrial life, as does one of the greatest family films. In fact, it’s probably E.T. that became the alien movie for the masses. It’s the film people tend to most identify with whatever might lie beyond the stars.
It makes sense, too. People don’t want to think that whatever life might be out there might mean us harm. Because the truth is, if they were out there, they probably would. Any life that could exist beyond this planet would have to be way, way more advanced than us to be able to monitor us, let alone travel to our planet. At best, they’d look down on us like animals in a zoo. At worst, they’d want our whole world for themselves. Or they’d just want it out of the way.
The concept of alien life can actually be very scary, especially if you think about it long enough. But there are very few horror movies about aliens, simply because they often require a scope and level of special effects that horror films are not often granted.
Some alien-centric horror flicks become huge, highly regarded classics. Alien and The Thing are prime examples of this. Virtually every horror in the ‘50s was dealing with some kind of alien life, because that’s what people were terrified of at the time. Then there are movies that come out and just get totally overlooked, or even forgotten. Those are the ones we’ll be looking at: We’ll be turning the spotlight on those titles that might be known to the hardcore horror fan, even well known outside the genre, but have never been met with a huge amount of respect.
Fire in the Sky
For a group of people who watched it growing up in the ‘90s, Fire in the Sky is the scariest alien movie ever made. It starts off feeling like a low-key, almost made-for-TV alien abduction story. But then we get glimpses of those abduction sequences and they’re so unexpectedly haunting for a feature like this that it makes them all the more memorable. This one really sticks with you in a way you don’t expect going in.
Killer Klowns is, of course, regarded as a cult classic B-Movie. It’s fun and funny and people love it, even if they’re doing so ironically. But, believe it or not, I don’t think this gets enough credit for how smart it is. It completely captures the tone, style and structure of the small town alien invasion flicks of the ‘50s and it’s perfect at heightening that absurdity by replacing the generic alien monsters with clowns.
Night of the Creeps
Night of the Creeps is also a perfect throwback to the ‘50s era B-Movies. It’s a smart, funny, genuinely witty film with great performances—especially from Tom Atkins. It also shows that just about any concept can work with the right, talented team of people attached, because this plot is pretty similar to Plan 9 From Outer Space. Yet whereas one is considered the worst feature of all time, this one is a truly great little flick that really needs to get the recognition it deserves.
People love to talk about how great the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is, which is fair, because that truly is a great film. But I think the 1993 Body Snatchers really goes overlooked. Teaming cult director Abel Ferrera with the great Re-Animator duo of Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli, it confines the action to a military base to give the already paranoid concept a claustrophobic atmosphere similar to Day of the Dead and The Thing.
Another take on the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers trope, The Faculty was paranoid sci-fi for the Scream generation, fittingly from the writer of Scream. While Scream gets most of the credit when it comes to late-90s horror, The Faculty is still an incredibly strong feature with a stellar ensemble cast. It’s become something of a cult classic over time, but it definitely should be held in higher regard.
Slither has an audience, but it’s an audience that almost seems at odds with itself because you have the people who are praising the it for being so fun and so funny, people who dig the references to B-Movies of the past, and people who think it’s terrible because they somehow don’t see anything intentional in it and just love it ironically. More people should embrace it for what it really is: Troma with a budget.
The Blob (1988)
The Thing and The Fly are held up as two of the greatest remakes of all time. Even if they didn’t both get the critical acclaim they deserved upon release, they found it over time. But The Blob still hasn’t gotten that, even if it’s gained an audience. It really deserves to always be listed with the other two. It needs that same sort of critical re-examination. Not only does it have terrific FX, it adds a twist that the blob is actually not an alien threat, it’s something the government botched up and they built it up as an alien threat to cover their asses. That’s some intense, Watchmen-level commentary going on in a remake of The Blob. Let that sink in.