The 30 Best Alien Movies – Extraterrestrial Life

Alien movies exist in pretty much every genre, from gentle dramas to hilarious comedies to true horror shockers. The unknown from space simply fascinates a lot of people. Filmmakers are especially attracted to such material because it allows them to realize their inner child and unleash their creative imagination. Accordingly, many Alien films there are naturally. To help you keep track, we’ve put together what we think are the 35 best alien movies of all time.

1. Alien (1979)

Appropriately named, Alien is THE alien movie among alien movies. And beyond that, one of the best movies of all time. The crew of the space freighter Nostromo lands on a seemingly lifeless planetoid in 2122 after receiving a distress signal from there. Unsuspectingly she brings the Alien on board from there, a highly aggressive, all-destroying monster race. Growing in the belly of one of the crew members, it snatches itself from the human breeding ground in a memorable “birth scene.” It unleashes sheer horror among the remaining members of the Nostromo.

Swiss painter and film designer HR Giger designed the Alien and the Nostromo, making it one of the most visually stunning films ever made. Ridley Scott staged the unleashing of horror on the small freighter so oppressive and virtuosic that Alien still amazes, thrills and shocks today.

2. Aliens (1986)

Even in the first Alien, Sigourney Weaver shone as Ellen Ripley, who stands in the way of the Alien. This made them the first female action star in film history. James Cameron’s sequel “Aliens” expands her role even further and spectacularly showcases the actress as a heroic mother figure.

Weaver even snatched an Oscar nomination for the best actress. Ripley, accompanied by a military unit, is recruited to investigate the Alien’s planet. Humans have established a colony there. James Cameron uses this simple hook to unleash a veritable fireworks display of action, horror, and special effects. For the latter, there was an Oscar.

3. Predator (1987)

The cult film from the eventual maker of Die Hard, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in a parade role. The technologically advanced, bloodthirsty Predator preys on Arnie and his military unit in this blockbuster. In the jungle, the alien Predator decimates them one by one until only Arnold is left and engages in a fight to the death with the space hunter.

The design of the Predator is simply unique. Special effects experts Richard Englund and Stan Winston were involved, and makeup artists Rick Baker and James Cameron as the idea man. An unbeatable combination for a breathtakingly action-packed alien film.

4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Easily the most beautiful alien movie of all time. Steven Spielberg created with E.T. a timeless parable of true friendship that can transcend species boundaries. A peaceful little alien is stranded on Earth. The boy Elliott finds him, befriends the cute creature, and helps him get back home. The sentence “E.T. phone home!” knows probably everyone.

The film was an absolute box office hit, trumping Star Wars, which had been released five years earlier, and was the undefeated most successful film until Steven Spielberg broke his own record 10 years later with Jurassic Park itself. No wonder because E.T. still enchants today.

5. The War of the Worlds (1953)

H.G. Wells’ story about an alien invasion was published in 1897, making it one of the oldest accounts of human encounters with extra-terrestrial life. The material is world-famous and has been filmed countless times. But no version is better than the first film version.

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With unprecedented special effects, Battle of the Worlds amazed the audience of the 50s. The effects are not as impressive from today’s perspective, but the film influenced several filmmakers in designing their own Alien films. Even Independence Day oriented itself in its representation of an Alien invasion still at the classical one.

6. Independence Day (1996)

Alien invasions don’t always have to be taken seriously, no matter how threatening they are. If you leave the helm to Roland Emmerich and give him Will Smith as the star, this can, on the contrary, produce one of the greatest blockbusters in film history. The images of large alien ships with powerful weapons blowing apart worldly monuments in massive explosions are still breathtaking in their impact today. Only Will Smith as a navy pilot, still has a chance to prevent the extinction of humanity. He gets help from, of all people, a scientist and the president of the United States.

With a lot of wit and self-mockery, it’s a lot of fun and was so well received by audiences that in 1996 it became the second highest-grossing film of all time, causing a tidal wave of Alien and disaster movies dragged after it.

7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The worker Roy Neary makes an encounter with a UFO, which will completely disrupt his life. Nothing more needs to be said about the story of the Steven Spielberg classic.

Released the same year as Star Wars, the film was a huge success with audiences, grossing more than $300 million on a budget of $20 million. Critics also received it well for its humane storytelling and sensitive staging of humanity’s first encounter with extra-terrestrial intelligence. The camera won an Oscar.

8. The Thing (1982)

Horror master John Carpenter has also made his mark in the field of alien movies. The Thing from Another World is about an alien parasite that infects humans and devours them from the inside out. This devouring, which from the outside looks like a kind of slimy explosion, is staged with such disgusting, creepy, and above all handmade special effects that it makes your blood run cold.

The whole thing happens to a team of scientists at a research station in Antarctica. Soon the crew doesn’t know which of their colleagues is even human anymore. Accompanied by the uniquely dark music of the incomparable Ennio Morricone, the film turns the tension screw until even the viewer can no longer distinguish friend from foe.

9. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Actually, the entire Star Wars series could be included in this list. Star Wars is and remains the ultimate space adventure. The iconic music everyone recognizes. Even non-Jedi know what a lightsaber is, and Master Yoda’s way of speaking is still used as a comedy element in all kinds of movies.

These and many other components of the Star Wars films have become pop culture staples. The Empire Strikes Back” remains undisputedly the best Stars Wars movie of all time. Whoever has seen the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Co. owes it to himself to change that as soon as possible.

10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1993)

The story about a species of aliens who land on Earth and take parasitic possession of humans has already been filmed three times. In 1956, director Don Siegel excelled with a dark but now outdated version. In 1978 a remake with Donald Sutherland in the leading role was dedicated to the material, which is generally considered a great science fiction film. But it’s Abel Ferrara who teases the true horror out of the material with the third film adaptation of a 1955 novel by Jack Finney.

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Imagine you are working on a military base in the USA. Your colleagues around you are infested with parasitic aliens, turning into emotionless monsters one by one. And the biggest problem is that they are still the same as before. Perfect murderous duplicates of your friends. This movie shows what that would be like in a very exciting and creepy way.

11. Starship Troopers (1997)

The futuristic world of director Paul Verhoeven has it all. A story that develops like a teen drama, satirical sideswipes at the military cult and world government thoughts and a spider-like alien race, only called Bugs by humans. The bugs literally devour one planet after another. Therefore, the Earth delivers a bitter fight around the Universe with the slimy things. In this trailer, we follow infantry soldier Johnny Rico from his first training to his appointment as an officer and witness humanity’s struggle for survival from his perspective.

The mix of Beverly Hills 90210 drama, cast with an array of handsome actors, and offset with flashy action scenes splattering insect goo makes this B-thriller unique.

12. Arrival (2016)

Another gem from the “gentle alien movie” category. Arrival seamlessly follows Spielberg’s tradition of viewing the Arrival of alien life on planet Earth as an opportunity rather than a threat of annihilation. Whether this is actually the case, however, the viewer learns only towards the end of the film. Until then, Arrival is a highly suspenseful masterpiece. When UFOs land in various locations on Earth and the aliens inside emit incomprehensible sounds, a scientific team is sent to investigate. This is led by the linguist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams.

Your contact with the aliens deeply touches your soul, making the film. Strongly acted, the sci-fi drama overwhelms not with special effects but with its understanding of human nature.

13. Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise meets “Groundhog Day,” and with aliens to boot! What sounds abstruse turns out to be an action pearl. In the film, Europe is threatened by an invasion by a whole horde of lightning-fast and deadly aliens. Major William Cage, played by Cruise, tries to evade this fight by using a trick but is forced into action by his superiors. The non-combatant Cage dies instantly as soon as he reaches the front line.

But suddenly, he wakes up again a day earlier. Like in a video game, Cage must now try to master the situation better with each Arrival at the front to survive. The number of times he dies, returns, and the creativity with which the film stages this game makes Edge Of Tomorrow one of the best alien films in recent years.

14. Annihilation (2018)

For all those who like an alien movie equally thoughtful and creepy, “Annihilation” is just the thing. A meteorite lands on Earth and creates a spot surrounded by a mysterious glow. Trooper Kane is part of a military reconnaissance mission investigating the Shimmer. And the only one to return. But he is no longer the same. His wife Lena then gets recruited to join a scientific team to find out what happened to the soldiers.

Director Alex Garland combines a mysterious story with fantastic special effects to create a dark thriller about human nature, in which the Alien plays more of a metaphorical role. Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac shine in the leading roles. But beware: this nasty little shocker is not for the faint of heart.

15. Men In Black (1997)

Will Smith and alien movies are apparently a good combination. Made a megastar by Independence Day, Smith also cuts a fine figure in this blockbuster and brings a similar sense of humor to his role. The film does Aliens on Earth differently. In this film, the aliens have long since landed peacefully on Earth, unnoticed by the general public, and are controlled by a secret authority.

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The Men in Black. Tommy Lee Jones plays one of the Men in Black, who is looking for a successor and meets the New York police officer James Darrell Edwards, played by Will Smith. Shortly made his partner and renamed Agent J, the two agents must prevent an intergalactic war in this hilarious comedy. You’ve rarely laughed so much in this one, I promise.

16. Signs (2002)

From M. Night Shyamalan, the creator of “The Sixth Sense,” skillfully directed, the film Signs deals with the question of what happens to a person’s faith when he suddenly realizes that extra-terrestrial life exists. Mel Gibson plays a former priest to whom just that happens when he discovers mysterious symbols in a cornfield. Soon it turns out that this is happening all over the world.

Mysterious and exciting are shown in the question of what the signs mean and the priest’s search for meaning. One for M. Night Shyamalan’s typical twist, which pulls the rug out from under the viewer’s feet, must, of course, not be missing.

17. District 9 (2009)

District 9 is set in an alternate world where an alien refugee ship lands in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1982. The South African government arrests the escaped aliens and locks them up in a camp called District 9. The story shows the desperate attempt of one of the aliens to escape with his son and how the actually ruthless bureaucrat Wikus van der Merve helps them to do so. District 9 convinces above all with its biting social criticism.

With the portrayal of the camp and the events that took place, the apartheid era is addressed, and allusions to the Holocaust are incorporated. To balance out the heavy subject matter somewhat, director Neill Blomkamp equips the film with a fair amount of action.

18. Prometheus (2012)

With Prometheus, Ridley Scott ventured 30 years after Alien to his second Alien film. At least something like this. Prometheus is set in the same Universe as Alien, but some time before it. There are allusions to the Alien film series, but Prometheus deals with a different myth and its own story. In this one, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus searches space for the origins of mankind and encounters a dark threat. It still goes something like in Alien. But that’s not bad in this case because Ridley Scott hasn’t lost any of his skills.

The detailed aesthetics make it believable that Prometheus is set in the same Universe as Alien and makes the nostalgic heart beat faster. A must for Alien fans.

19. Contact (1997)

The somewhat forgotten Alien film Contact by Robert Zemeckis also deals with the question of what it would be like if humans could be enlightened and improved by contact with higher civilized aliens instead of being destroyed by bloodthirsty monsters.

Jodie Foster plays a scientist who works at the American SETI program, a project for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. When one day she receives coded radio signals from the star Vega, and they turn out to be a possible message from aliens, a race to make first contact begins.

This quiet, thoughtful film is characterized primarily by its realistic portrayal of what would happen if humans received a message from outer space. But also here you can expect a series of still breathtaking special effects, especially at the beginning and at the end.

20. Alarm im Weltall (1956)

The pioneer among alien films. Even today, it’s still worth watching Alarm in the Universe. From the speed of light to distant planets to a mysterious alien race named Krell, this classic film features a number of elements that made great film series like Star Wars and Star Trek possible in the first place.

21. The Fifth Element (1997)


22. Total Recall (1990)

23. Avatar (2009)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

25. Cloverfield (2008)

26. Paul (2011)

27. Interstellar (2014)

28. Mission to Mars (2000)

29. Oblivion (2013)

30. Star Trek (2009)

Whatever kind of alien movie you love or if you love to watch every alien movie ever made. You will always catch the right one with this list of the 30 best alien movies.

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