Film

The 10 Greatest Man vs. Space Monster Movies Ever

ET - GO HOME! PLEASE! Here are 10 examples of where extraterrestrials have overstayed their welcome, resulting in a man vs. alien beatdown.

So, what happens after the invasion? What happens to mankind once the alien overlords finish destroying our major metropolises and render our resolve hopeless? Do we fight back? Are we enslaved? Does the extraterrestrial conqueror suddenly become a victim of a bumbling world bureaucracy? Maybe they are killed off by the flu? Or a standard staph infection? Or St. Vitus Dance. Whatever the case, the intervening days/weeks/months are often filled with the kind of action movie magic the cinema specializes in. Between the villainous visitors from another world and the steely response by some still hopeful neighbors, the ability for ET to overrun the rest of the population is always predicated on the available technology and the type of hero wielding it.

With the release of the critical lambasted Winter 2011 release, The Darkest Hour, on DVD and Blu-ray, it's time to look back over the entire history of the people vs. planet invaders genre and determine the best examples of same. Instead of focusing on those films where massive motherships eject hundreds of smaller vessels into the Earth's atmosphere, the better to wipe out the indigenous population and suck up all the natural resources, we are talking about those titles were homo sapien goes after extra-terrestrial, toe to... whatever an alien might have for feet. The result is a list that comes dangerously close to mimicking one we did back a few months ago, though it's clear where the Independence Days end and where something like our number two selection step in. Indeed, the difference can be best described as more 'hands' on.

 
#10: Monsters

The premise finds Earth inhabited by a collection of stranded space creatures, most the size of a small house. They've been quarantined south of the border in Mexico, and that is where we find our leads, a journalist and a spoiled socialite. He's trying to bring her back to safety. She just wants to be home. Together, they learn what life is like in the sectioned off areas, as well as the purpose behind the aliens existence on our planet. The confrontations are casual and quite chilling.

 
#9: Cloverfield

Big monster from space drops in on NYC and a group of Gen-X Yuppies capture the chaos on their video cameras. Utilizing the found footage approach to excellent effect, the film clearly illustrates our inability to successfully deal with a deadly, skyscraper-sized invader from another world. Sure, some of the shaky-cam stuff can be a bit of a drain, and the rescuing the damsel in distress element is equally trying, but the systematical dismantling of Manhattan is well worth the price of admission.

 
#8: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

During the direct to video craze of the mid '80s, filmmakers knew that even the most outlandish idea would have some heft home theater legs once the title hit VHS. Thus we have this clever, satiric take on the old invasion films of the '50s, except this time, the aliens looking like demonic clowns. Even better, they use standard carnival/circus fare -- popcorn, cotton candy, balloons -- to wreck their havoc on the horrified human population. More funny than frightening, it's still an eccentric entry into the genre.

 
#7: Starship Troopers

Leave it to Robocop's Paul Verhoeven to turn the fascist fascination of sci-fi legend Robert A. Heinlein into something even more totalitarian. Half the time, we feel like we're watching outtakes from a futuristic Triumph of the Will. Still, the all out war waged between man and bug is so brilliantly handled, complete with some of the best F/X work of CG's infancy, that we can overlook the veiled militaristic message. Besides, who doesn't want to see Neil Patrick Harris as a pseudo SS psychic?

 
#6: District 9

Coming completely out of left field and winding up one of the year's best, this metaphoric South African thriller is like the 1958 racial expose, The Defiant Ones, except this time, we have a bumbling government bureaucrat paired up with an interstellar "prawn" that may or may not be willing to help him. Like Monsters, it's been a while since aliens have landed on Earth and since then they have been marginalized and quarantined in "ghettos", given to random abuses by the powers that be. When forced to cooperate, both sides become suspect... and with good cause.

Next Page

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image