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Nobody would have believed, in the first years of the 21st century that Hollywood would still be serving up alien invasion movies.

Nor would they believe that we the audience would still be lapping them up nearly 120 years after H.G. Wells first popularised the concept of marauding, all-conquering invaders from another planet. And yet, the summer movie season of 2016 looks set to be dominated once again by a return visit from beyond the stars of an alien race who have slowly but surely drawn their plans against us. (I’ll pause here, so that you can sing the Dum-Dum-Dah! bit from Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds album.)

war of the worlds

Like the very best horror movies, Alien Invasion Movies have the ability to get under our skins by emphasising our vulnerability. Despite our assumed superiority over nature and the elements, invasion movies like to remind us that there are powers ‘out there’ with the ability to wipe mankind off the face of the earth on a whim, be they asteroids, rising oceans or self-inflicted world wars and nuclear conflict.

It’s been twenty years since Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum put paid to the original Independence Day invasion, and with a resurgent rematch ready to kick off, here’s a quick look back at some of this planet’s intergalactic enemies and their previous attempts to muscle in on humanity.

8. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

The Day The Earth Stood Still

The Alien Invasion movies that followed in quick succession in the 1950s and 60s – films like Invasion of Astro-Monster, Earth vs The Flying Saucers and Invasion of The Saucer Men – tended to be fairly schlocky fare, but the first proper alien sighting in Hollywood was a stately, sober and prestigious affair from a legendary director (Robert Wise).

Rather than turning the world’s most famous landmarks into rubble, this alien (Michael Rennie) has invaded earth to give its inhabitants a stern telling-off for our silly obsession with killing each other. Not that this allegorical sci-fi classic is without its fair share of threat; here in the form of Gort, Rennie’s vast, metallic protector with a laser-eye and his very own safety-word, “Klaatu, Barada, Nikto,” which might sound familiar to fans of Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness and any collector of vintage Star Wars figures.

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If your pub team is short of an encyclopedic Bond or Hammer fan (the horror people, not the early-90s, billow-trousered rap icon) – then he’s our man. Given that these are rather popular areas of critical expertise, he is happy to concentrate on the remaining cinematic subjects. He loves everything from Michael Powell to David Lean, via 70s New Hollywood up to David Fincher and Wes Anderson; from Bergman and Kubrick to Roger Corman and Herschell Gordon Lewis. If he could only take one DVD to the island it would be Jaws, but that’s as specific as it gets. You have a lovely day now. Follow him at your own risk at https://mobile.twitter.com/CaiRoss21

  • seano28

    I’ve always loved Spielberg’s take on War of the Worlds and I agree it’s due a re-appraisal. Its dark and terrifying atmosphere is (with a few exceptions) brilliantly sustained.

  • Cai Ross

    I think it got caught up in all the ‘Tom Cruise jumping on the sofa’ hoopla and never got the break it deserved. There does feel like there’s a missing scene between the grenade escape and the ending, but watched now it feels like one of the definitive post 9/11 movies.

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