There is something about aliens that is fascinating to moviegoers. From the earlier science fiction films to countless modern films, creatures from other planets have been the focus of an endless number of movies. Many prove to be uninteresting and forgettable creatures, while a few have become iconic.
What makes a good movie alien can include any number of factors. They can be friendly or they can be deadly. They can be grotesque monsters or they can look like regular people. For this list, we will narrow things down by looking at those extraterrestrial creatures who have visited Earth. Here are the best movie aliens.
10 Ghouls – They Live
John Carpenter is an incredibly versatile filmmaker who likes to play around in different genres. He is also known for having some very interesting commentary embedded in his genre films. This is probably most prominent in his alien invasion action film, They Live.
The film stars Roddy Piper as a man who discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the alien beings who walk among the humans in disguise. The bug-eyed creatures are not interested in the typical invasion, but are instead controlling the human race through subliminal messages in advertisements.
9 Thermians – Galaxy Quest
Galaxy Quest is a hilarious sci-fi comedy about a group of actors from an outdated Star Trek-esque television show who are abducted by aliens to help them in their own intergalactic struggles.
The brilliant concept allows the comedy to poke fun at so many well-known tropes in these kinds of space adventures. But one of the most unique aspects of the film is the Thermians, a peaceful race who think this campy television show is a historical record of real cosmic heroes. It’s not often we see such innocent-minded aliens in films.
8 Heptapods – Arrival
Arrival is unlike any alien movie you’re likely to see. From director Denis Villeneuve, the film tries to show a realistic account of how the world would react if alien spaceships suddenly landed on Earth. While we don’t get a clear look at the aliens, they still make a considerable impact.
The two aliens we meet in the film are large and have tentacles which spout an ink-like substance they use to communicate. The language that is established with these creatures is fascinating, as is the “gift” they bestow on humanity and their purpose for visiting our planet.
7 The Bug – Men In Black
Though the sequels and recent reboot were all somewhat disappointing, it should not be forgotten that the first Men in Black was a hugely entertaining sci-fi action film. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones starred as government agents who deal with potentially dangerous aliens living on Earth.
The film’s villain is part of an alien species named Bugs. Grotesquely disguised as a human, this violent and deadly insectoid is formidable and frightening. The character is most effective in its “human suit”, with Vincent D’Onofrio giving a truly amazing performance.
6 Harvesters – Independence Day
Independence Day is another alien adventure film with Will Smith as the leading man hero. The movie is a great bit of popcorn entertainment, with a race of conquering aliens invading Earth and setting up strategic attacks around the world.
Their massive black spaceships are effectively intimidating, and the devastating power of their weaponry quickly proves that the human race is in a lot of trouble. As for the aliens themselves, they are terrifying and intelligent creatures who operate as a hive and even possess some form of telepathy.
5 Prawns – District 9
District 9 is the debut film from Neil Blomkamp, and gives a very unique perspective on the old idea of aliens visiting Earth. In the film, the “Prawns” (which is a derogatory term the humans give this alien race) are refugees who become stranded on Earth after their ship malfunctions.
In a commentary on modern politics and how countries sometimes treat refugees, the Prawns are rounded up and caged off from the rest of society. The abuse and mistreatment they experience is one of the few times an alien race is the sympathetic one in a film.
4 E.T. In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Leave it to Steven Spielberg to realize the potential of experiencing an alien movie through a child’s eyes. E.T the Extra-Terrestrial is a fun and touching story of a young boy who discovers an alien in his backyard.
It’s not hard to see how E.T. managed to become one of the most beloved alien creatures to ever appear on film. He is sweet, innocent and completely fascinated with this new world around him. He also has a number of impressive abilities like resurrection, which can certainly come in handy.
3 Yautja – Predator
It takes a pretty badass alien to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger and all his muscle-bound buddies, but for the Yautja, that’s just something they do for fun. Unlike the other alien species who come to Earth to conquer, the Yautja are only interested in hunting for sport, which might make them even more frightening.
Though they are armed with an impressive array of weaponry, the Yautja are not looking for an easy fight. They purposely pick the most formidable prey and avoid killing anyone who is unarmed. They are disciplined and clever, making them deadly adversaries.
2 Xenomorphs – Alien
Alien is one of the most effective science-fiction horror films of all time, and that is largely due to its terrifying alien creature known as the Xenomorph. The film finds a small space shuttle crew accidentally bringing the creature onboard and gradually getting picked off by the deadly beast.
The films showed that there were far more than one Xenomorph to worry about, and that species proved to only be concerned with multiplying and killing. The most fascinating thing about the Xenomorph is its evolutionary phases, with each new stage more terrifying and deadly than the last.
1 The Thing – The Thing
John Carpenter proved that he is one of the rare filmmakers who have more than one iconic alien up their sleeves. Named by some as the greatest horror movie ever made, The Thing is a paranoid and grotesque thriller which features a nightmare-inducing alien.
This alien stalks the small crew of an Arctic research lab by shape-shifting into its victims. Not only is its assimilation process gruesome and painful, but it means that any one of the survivors could be the creature at any moment.
NEXT: Star Wars: The 10 Best Alien Designs, Ranked