38 of the Best alien films of all time3rd Nov 2023
Scientists believe that a meeting between mankind and aliens in the near future is unlikely, but if it did, what would it be like? Hollywood offers us many scenarios in which this encounter looks at least unfriendly. But not everything is so pessimistic. We have collected for you the 38 of the best alien films — from stunning action, chilling thrillers, and horrors to really funny comedies, whose plots will impress you. Let’s start with the legendary classics!
The best alien films ever made
The encounter between humans and hostile extraterrestrial life forms is the benchmark of alien movies. Moreover, there may be absolutely incredible monsters to exterminate humans in the most subtle and brutal way. Here are the best alien films of the creepy sort ever made.
Movie slogan: “In space no one can hear you scream.”
In 1979, director Ridley Scott made one of the best alien horror movies of all time. The plot is about an alien parasite that can evolve from small biological forms into the perfect killing machine.
In 2122, the cargo spacecraft Nostromo, owned by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, picks up a distress call from the unexplored planetoid LV-426. The team decides to land and clarify the situation.
While searching for the signal source, the expeditionary team finds an abandoned alien ship with a dead alien and strange egg-like biological forms in the cargo hold. At this time, the Nostromo’s onboard computer decodes the signal, which turns out to be not an SOS but a danger warning. But it’s too late. The xenomorph implants itself into one of the astronauts’ bodies, enters the ship, and starts hunting the crew.
In the finale, the only survivor, Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), manages to throw the Alien into space. But the alien story is just beginning.
Why is Alien considered to be a classic?
The plot, in which people are at war with a hostile xenomorph in a confined space, appealed to the audience so much that it not only spawned a lot of films like Alien but also grew into a whole franchise of movie prequels and sequels. But, to follow the story of the alien from beginning to end, one must watch the movies not in the order in which they were filmed but in the order of the storyline’s development. These are Alien series movies in universe-chronological order:
- Prometheus (2012)
- Alien: Covenant (2017)
- Alien (1979)
- Aliens (1986)
- Alien 3 (1992)
- Alien: Resurrection (1997)
The viewer continues to follow Ellen Ripley’s war with xenomorphs in all three sequels, where she is, in turn, assisted by colonial marines (Aliens), criminal prisoners (Alien-3) and space mercenaries (Alien-4). And the prequel Alien: Covenant reveals the amazing secret of aliens’ origin.
It should be noted that all the Alien movies have extended cut versions containing scenes not included in the theatrical cuts. Like Blade Runner, with everything but a key grip’s cut, these are the best alien films with the most vareties, so if you haven’t watched them, be sure to fix it!
Which is the best Alien film?
Fans believe it’s Alien from 1979. And we generally agree with them. But you should definitely watch all Alien movies to admire the scope of the idea and the variety of plot branches. Ridley Scott and the rest of the movie directors managed to embody a unique world of the future in which humanity has little chance of survival but is still desperately fighting despite the inequality of forces. The winner has not been determined yet, and we will probably see new Alien movies soon.
Movie slogan: “They sought the cradle of mankind, but found its ruin.”
Prometheus was originally created as an Aliens-5 movie, but then Ridley Scott changed the script and title and turned it from a sequel to a prequel of all Alien movies, even though, in Prometheus, the xenomorph appears only in the final scene.
In 2089, archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) discovers an ancient star map in the mountains of Scotland, which she interprets as an invitation from the Engineers. Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), the very old director of Weyland-Yutani, finances an expedition of the science ship Prometheus to the planetoid indicated on the map. Upon landing, the expedition finds an Engineer ship (the one that the Nostromo crew from Alien would later find), a dead crew with torn chests, and one living Engineer in stasis.
Further events are similar to those that take place in the Alien movie. On an alien ship, team members are infected by unknown organisms and start dying one by one. The movie comes to the conclusion that they are confronted with the Engineers’ biological weapons, which the latter created to exterminate other civilisations. As a result, only Shaw and android David (Michael Fassbender) survive, and in the very finale of the movie, a kind of xenomorph appears from the body of the Engineer infected with a mutated organism, which we later see in all other Alien movies.
- The events in the movie take place 33 years before the events of Alien, and exactly the same number of years separate the release of these two movies.
- David, Peter Weyland, and Elizabeth Shaw appear in Alien: Covenant, set in the year 2104, 18 years before the events in Alien.
The Predator series (1987 — nowadays)
Movie slogan: “You’ll never see him coming.”
This is one of the best alien films, and a film universe at the heart of which lies the story of a highly developed alien race of born hunters who visit planets to hunt other creatures that can offer armed resistance. The alien predators have remarkable strength, can perfectly wield any weapon, their armoured suits have a stealth mode, and their helmets provide thermal imagery, all of which combined make these aliens almost invincible.
The first movie about the Predator was filmed in 1982; it tells about the fight between a group of American mercenaries and warlike aliens in the jungles of Central America. The alien Predator begins the hunt, killing the mercenaries one by one and skinning their corpses like hunted game. The main character (Arnold Schwarzenegger) manages to kill the alien Predator only by resorting to the experience of early, primitive hunters.
In 1992, Predator 2 appeared on the screens, but this movie has nothing to do with the plot of the first part. Events of the second movie take us to an urban setting, where a Los Angeles police officer (Danny Glover) enters into a tough fight with the Predator and emerges victorious. At the end of the movie, the viewer learns for the first time that there are many predators. They fly in to retrieve the body of their slain comrade and pay their respects to the protagonist.
Within the framework of the movie franchise, the Predators entered into confrontations with humans five times. Here are all the Alien Predator movies in order of release date:
- Predator (1987),
- Predator-2 (1992),
- Predators (2010),
- Predator (2018),
- Prey (2022).
The events of these movies take place at different times in different places and do not overlap in any way. For example, the movie Predators with Adrien Brody takes us to an unknown planet where Predators gather the best Earth assassins to hunt them later. And in the movie Prey, an alien arrives on Earth in 1719, where he enters into battle with the Comanche tribe.
Movie slogan: “Whoever Wins…We Lose.”
Alien and Predator won so many fans worldwide that they were destined to clash in a fight not only with humans but also against each other. In 2004, director Paul Anderson shot a very interesting crossover offering a separate look at the existence of the Alien and Predator universes.
The movie takes us to the year 2004, to the Bouvet Island in Antarctica, where deep under the ice, the Weyland Corporation’s satellite Yutani accidentally discovers an ancient Aztec pyramid. Corporation founder Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen, who played in Aliens and Alien-3) and, probably, his father Peter Weyland (Prometheus, Alien Covenant) organize an expedition to the island. At the same time, a Predator ship is heading towards Earth. Upon arrival on Bouvet, the scientists discover that someone has cut a tunnel through the ice leading directly to the pyramid. They decide to go down and find a sacrificial hall filled with Alien eggs. Next, the face-huggers predictably infect several people, Aliens multiply rapidly, and a fight between humans, Predators, and xenomorphs begins.
As the movie progresses, viewers learn that Predators have been visiting Earth for thousands of years. They were the ones who taught the first people construction, and humans worshipped Predators as gods. For this, every hundred years, the Predators returned to Earth and demanded sacrifices from people; namely, they used humans as carriers for xenomorphs, with whom they fought, proving their right to the warrior’s title. Scientists conclude that the thermal radiation they detected was a ploy to attract people with the sole purpose of creating new Aliens to continue the hunt.
And even though Alien vs. Predator was nominated by critics for the Golden Raspberry Award in the category “Worst Remake/Sequel,” the movie was still a considerable success among the audience. With a production cost of $60 million, the movie earned almost three times as much at the box office — $172 million.
In 2007, the sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was filmed, the events of which are again developing on Earth, in a small American town, immediately after the final events of the first part. The movie failed miserably, receiving very low ratings from critics and viewers alike due to “an abundance of violence, poorly lit scenes and a lack of new ideas.” As a result, the directors, the Brothers Strause, were forced to abandon their plans for the third part, so alien vs. predator movies ended there.
Considering that the events in the AVP take place long before the events in Prometheus, the movie dilogy could be considered a prequel to all “Alien” films, but the appearance of the Predators violates the whole concept proposed by Ridley Scott in his earlier movies. However, as you can see, the first part’s idea was quite good.
The Thing (1982, 2011)
This movie, like Alien, is considered a classic even among the best alien movies. John Carpenter managed to film a chilling horror movie about a team of scientists from an American research station in Antarctica which is faced with an inexplicable nightmare. Cut off from the rest of the world, polar explorers come into battle with an alien beast that can take on the appearance of earthly creatures.
Everything in this movie is a success — from the protagonist (Kurt Russell) to the dark setting and Ennio Morricone’s music that adds suspense. Alien monsters look a little funny, but one should not forget that this movie was shot in an era before computer graphics, so the filmmakers had to make do with makeup and animation.
In 2011, director Matthijs van Heijningen re-shot The Thing, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton starring. The movie was conceived as a prequel, but the plot is almost the same as the original, so inattentive viewers might think that this is a remake. Heijningen’s The Thing wasn’t as successful as Carpenter’s original movie, but the monsters in it look more realistic and terrifying thanks to CGI.
The theme of alien invasion in cinema continues to capture our imagination, instilling a sense that our planet can be both an unshakable stronghold and a vulnerable shelter in the vast expanse of space. Here are the best alien invasion movies, where you’ll find everything you need: from dramatic conquest battles to hidden visits and awe-inspiring moments of understanding. Alien invasions are behind the plots of some of the very best alien films.
Movie slogan: “It’s Not Like They Didn’t Warn Us.”
The quiet, slow-paced life of small-town Pennsylvania farmers Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) is disrupted when they discover their cornfield is full of giant stalked signs. The Hesses begin to investigate this phenomenon, not knowing yet what and who they will have to face…
Even though Night Shyamalan made this movie over twenty years ago, it still ranks among the top alien invasion movies. Signs has little dynamics but great suspense and mysteries that the viewer will have to unravel throughout the movie. Like Shyamalan’s other best works (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, The Village), Signs have an unexpected ending that shocks the viewer.
According to the original plan, the aliens were supposed to look like in the Predator movies, but the director did not like the trial shots and asked to change their appearance to something between greys (classic grey humanoids) and humanoid lizards. Also, according to the movie script, Graham Hess was supposed to be older, and either Paul Newman or Clint Eastwood was intended for this part, but after their refusal, Mel Gibson was invited.
Independence Day (1996, 2016)
Movie slogan: “We’ve always believed we weren’t alone. On July 4th, we’ll wish we were.”
This creation by Roland Emmerich is possibly the most massive alien invasion movie ever made, and a definite must-see of the best alien films. Evil aliens are attacking the Earth to destroy humanity and steal all the Earth’s resources. The combined Earth forces are trying to defend themselves, but even nuclear weapons are powerless against the protective screens of alien ships. A US Air Force pilot (Will Smith) and a scientist (Jeff Goldblum) take control of an old alien ship that the US government secretly stored in Area 51 to get into an enemy lair and blow it up from the inside.
The movie is full of inconsistencies and silly moments, but they are offset by spectacular scenes, action, humour, and excellent casting. A win-win combination for 1996.
In 2016, Emmerich directed the movie sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, in which the aliens return to Earth better prepared but are again defeated by resourceful earthlings. Despite the abundance of improved special effects, the second movie turned out to be much less impressive than the first part and did not enjoy such a resounding success.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Movie slogan: “They’re already here.”
Steven Spielberg’s modern interpretation of Herbert Wells’ novel tells the story of Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) from Brooklyn and his family as they struggle to survive when Earth is under attack by Martians. The aliens use huge tripod robots to catch people and suck the blood out of them. The army is powerless in front of high-tech aliens, and it seems that humanity is on the brink of extinction.
However, one day, Ferrier discovers that the protection of the alien tripods is disabled, and they can be hit. The soldiers shoot the tripod with grenade launchers, and a dying Martian crawls out. This alien movie ends with an off-screen monologue (a quote from Wells), which tells that the aliens died from infection with terrestrial bacteria, to which earthlings have been developing immunity for millennia.
War of the Worlds is not considered the best of Steven Spielberg’s alien movies, but it is still the most spectacular box office movie adaptation of Wells’ novel. So, a definite must-have in your collection of the best alien films.
The Mist (2007)
Movie slogan: “Fear changes everything.”
This truly scary thriller by Frank Darabont (Walking Dead), based on the novel by Stephen King, takes us to a small American town, suddenly covered by a supernatural mist that cuts people off from the outside world. A group of heroes who, at this moment, find themselves in the supermarket have to engage in an unequal battle with the monsters living in the mist.
The movie is shot in the best traditions of the master of Tale of Terror, but even he turned out to be more optimistic in the finale of his novel. Frank Darabont changed the movie’s ending to be even more dramatic and shocking. Want to tickle your nerves on a Saturday night? Then The Mist is what you need.
Movie slogan: “It’s not war, it’s survival.”
In this fantastic action movie, an alien civilisation is trying to capture the Earth, destroying all life in its path. All over the world, mankind engages in a large-scale battle for survival. A detachment of marines led by 40-year-old veteran Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is instructed to free the besieged City of Angels from mysterious and deadly alien creatures at all costs.
Interestingly, The Battle: Los Angeles is considered one of the true story alien films. The plot of the movie is inspired by an incident during World War II, which went down in history as the “Battle of Los Angeles”. On the night of February 25, 1942, an unidentified object was allegedly seen over the city. The military decided that it could be a Japanese aircraft and fired 1,440 rounds from anti-aircraft guns in the direction of the object. Evidence of the enemy aircraft’s presence in the airspace at that time was never found, and everything was written off as a false alarm.
The Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Movie slogan: “Live. Die. Repeat.”
Based on the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, The Edge of Tomorrow movie shows us a not-too-distant future in which the planet is occupied by an aggressive alien species. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a public relations officer, is forced to join an operation against aliens but ends up caught in a time loop that forces him to die and resurrect over and over again but could eventually become the key to defeating the alien invaders.
The movie turned out to be very dynamic, full of events and time travel, while the aliens look absolutely disgusting. Don’t miss this truly top-notch alien invasion films. It’s not just Groundhog Day with mech-suits, it’s one of the best alien films.
Movie slogan: “Smart. Strong. Soulless.”
This movie takes place on an international space station where a team of three astronauts discover a microorganism in a sample from Mars. However, this alien species turns out to be much more intelligent and more dangerous than they could have imagined. A struggle not for life but for death begins, in which the winner turns out to be… well, see it for yourself.
The movie has an excellent cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds. But the main character, the Martian Kelvin, is especially impressive. Smart. Strong. Soulless. Killing.
Life is a must-have choice in the movie collection for people who love films like Alien.
The Quiet Place (2018, 2022)
Movie slogan: “Shh! Whatever you do, don’t make a sound.”
John Krasinski’s movie dilogy opens up a new era of alien invasion movies. Terrible alien monsters come to our planet on meteorites and, as usual, begin to exterminate all life. The aliens are blind, but they have super sensitive hearing, so humans have to be very quiet in order to survive. The main movie character (Emily Blunt) hides on a farm with her husband and children. The family makes a series of mistakes that attract monsters, resulting in the death of the family’s father. One of the children, a girl with hearing impairments, suddenly discovers that ultrasound makes alien monsters vulnerable. Her weapons are a hearing aid and an amplifier with a microphone, which help to kill alien monsters.
In the second movie part, we learn that ultrasound is not the aliens’ single weak spot. They cannot swim. The heroes win another battle, but victory over aliens is still far away. John Krasinski intended A Quiet Place as a trilogy, so we look forward to the story’s denouement in the third movie part!
The war of tomorrow (2021)
Movie slogan: “We are you, thirty years in the future. We are fighting a war. Our enemy is not human.”
The events of this movie begin during the World Cup finale in Qatar in 2022 when troops from the future land on the field. The arrivals declare that in 30 years, the Earth will be invaded by aliens called white spikes, and if the people of the present do not help the people of the future, then humanity will cease to exist. This is how people are forcefully sent to war, from which only 30% return.
After a while, it is time for Dan (Chris Pratt), a former military man and now a school teacher and a caring father, to enlist. Once in the future, he learns that his already adult daughter is the leader of the resistance. She tells her father that humanity is doomed and there is no chance of victory. But Dan still manages to find a way to defeat the aliens.
Even though the movie turned out to be plot-predictable, this shortcoming is more than once compensated by dynamism, many battle scenes, and excellent implementation of alien monsters that are literally teeming in every movie episode.
Heartbreaking alien abduction stories have been a trend for some time. And although many consider them to be fiction, what if such stories really happened? Here are the best alien abduction films based on true stories, as it says in the movie credits. Whether they happened or not, they still make for some of the best alien films.
Movie slogan: “The most famous, chilling kidnapping story of all time.”
On 5th November 1975, in the White Mountains of Northeastern Arizona, lumberjacks witnessed a mysterious sight — a fire in the sky, similar to a conflagration. Out of curiosity, they decided to take a close look at the fire, and one of them, Travis Walton, disappeared. Paralyzed by horror, the lumberjacks reported that the unfortunate man had been abducted by a UFO. But the police did not believe them and began to suspect the lumberjacks of murder. Local authorities put Travis Walton on the missing person’s list, but a few days later, he was found unconscious. Gradually, Travis began to remember his time as a prisoner of the aliens — and, by the way, this twelve-minute scene is the best in the movie.
Movie slogan: “There are four kinds of alien encounters. The fourth kind is abduction.”
In Alaska, unexplained disappearances take place. Despite the best efforts of the FBI, the investigation reaches a dead end, and the mystery remains unsolved. Psychiatrist Abigail Tyler (a real person, played by Milla Jovovich) begins to record conversations with her patients under hypnosis, and the victims tell eerie stories of their contact with alien creatures.
The movie is shot in the pseudo-documentary genre, which adds to its gloom and horror. The movie director intentionally divides the screen into several segments, in some of which he shows video footage shot by the real Abigail Taylor, and in the neighbouring ones — the same scenes, but played by actors. Such plausibility really looks creepy.
Best alien comedy movies
Alien movie monsters can be not only hostile and scary but also cute and friendly. Sometimes it looks pretty funny. Here are the best alien movies that will make you chuckle.
Movie slogan: “Nice planet. We’ll take it!”
The Earth is under a monstrous attack by Martians. These small green soulless creatures, with their spaceships, land in the desert and start advancing in all directions. Washington, Las Vegas, and other cities are shaking from the most powerful explosions, the destruction is countless…
The President of the United States calls on the Armed Forces to take action, but the commanders’ opinions are divided. “Smash and bring them back to Mars!” says General Decker. “Make peace,” objects General Casey. The movie’s denouement comes suddenly and does not coincide with any of the proposed plans.
The movie was shot by one of the iconic American directors, Tim Burton, who wrote such masterpieces as Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, and Beetlejuice. Burton richly flavoured the movie with elements of black comedy and political satire, intertwining several storylines that come together closer to the movie’s finale. The result is a very extravagant parody that is worth watching if only because of its great cast (Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Michael J. Fox, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Natalie Portman).
Movie slogan: “They protect the Earth from the scum of the universe”
Man in Black is probably the best one of funny alien movies, that has everything for a great fantasy comedy.
At the very beginning of the movie, the viewer learns that our planet, as it turns out, is teeming with various alien forms, and there is some kind of secret organisation that regulates alien activities. The main movie plot focuses on new Agent J (Will Smith), who joins seasoned Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), and together, they protect the planet from law-breaking aliens.
The story of men in black suits, who use various devices to control and arrest alien creatures and erase the memory of anyone who witnessed incidents with aliens, stretched out into four movie parts, but critics and viewers consider the first and the third ones to be the most successful.
Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tessa Thompson (Westworld) took over the legendary duo of Jones and Smith in the last franchise film Men in Black: International, making the last movie the least successful.
However, Men in Black remains at the top of the best alien films and will remain there for a long time — thanks to a unique movie idea, beautifully rendered alien monsters and sparkling humour. One of K’s statements alone makes it worthwhile: “Elvis didn’t die, he went home.”
Movie slogan: “Have a nice end of the world.”
Do you want to see how evolution that took millions of years unfolds in just a few months? Evolution, an American science fiction comedy by Ivan Reitman, is just about that.
The reason for such a development is the aliens who fell to Earth along with a meteorite. And while scientists rejoice, anticipating sensational work, a monstrous catastrophe is brewing on the planet, as alien evolution goes in slightly different ways.
The movie features the duo of David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, known to the viewer from the famous TV series The X-Files, as well as Seann William Scott, the legendary Stifler from American Pie.
Initially, screenwriter Don Jakoby intended Evolution as a sci-fi horror, but director Ivan Reitman managed to turn the movie into a sparkling comedy with excellent special effects.
Movie slogan: “Who’s up for a close encounter?”
Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) are best friends and sci-fi fans. The guys decide to go from England to the USA to attend one of the biggest sci-fi festivals, Comic-Con, ride around the places where UFOs were seen, and most importantly, visit the legendary Area 51. During the trip, friends meet a real alien named Paul, who is being hunted by special agents. Graeme and Clive decide to help Paul because they are his only hope for salvation. And now they have to travel hundreds of miles to get to the place where Paul can leave the Earth.
Interestingly, this movie is not Pegg and Frost’s first joint project. In addition to Paul, we can see the British star duo in such movies as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. Don’t miss these comedies, they are very funny indeed.
Movie slogan: “The Avengers are only saving the Earth, these guys are saving the Universe”
Guardians of the Galaxy is a superhero blockbuster movie set in the Marvel Universe and one of the best funny alien movies of the last decade.
The movie plot takes us to the distant future, where a team of space guards (Quill, Rocket, Groot, Drax, and Gamora) protect the Galaxy from various threats. What can a petty swindler, a tree, a raccoon, a muscle-head, and a pretty green-skinned alien beauty do on the scale of the Galaxy? Well, anything. Armies of dictators are crying, US special forces are nervously biting their nails. Viewers rejoice.
The story of a cheerful motley team went on in two more alien movie sequels and it looks like we will soon witness their new exciting adventures.
Raccoon Rocket is voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Groot — by Vin Diesel. Stunning sets were built for the movie to make the picture as realistic as possible while avoiding CGI.
As part of the Marvel Universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy characters also appear in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, where they help the Avengers defeat the cunning and powerful Thanos, Gamora’s father.
Of course, those are by far not all of the best alien films ever made. We were forced to omit at least a couple of dozen; otherwise, we would never have made it to the end. The alien movie legacy is impressive, but Hollywood continues to give birth to new ideas, which means that we will have many more interesting alien films and their sequels. Stay tuned to Orbital Today to stay updated with the most interesting space-related events, and check out our review of British Space Movies!