Best Alien Invasions In Sci-Fi Movies

We go through the ten best alien invasion movies in the history of cinema.

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

There is nothing like good alien invasion movies. Sometimes these invaders are the nice types but many times humanity finds itself at odds with those from outer space. Apparently, aliens are in the business of taking over Earth and we Earthlings have no choice but to defend our honor. There are plenty of examples of a great alien invasion flick, and as we countdown to the numero uno of them all, study this list of the best alien invasions in sci-fi movies and tell us what you think.

10. They Live (1988)


Horrormeister John Carpenter decided to change things up a bit in the late ‘80s and turned from horror to sci-fi. The result ended up being They Live, a film he wrote and directed, that starred one of the WWE’s (then the WWF) biggest names in wrestling at the time, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Although the film was a solid alien invasion movie, Carpenter made sure to keep some elements of horror. Piper plays Nada, a homeless drifter who happens upon a pair of sunglasses. When he tries them on, he sees things he was not expecting.

The ruling class of humanity are, in fact, aliens, and through mass media and subliminal messaging, they are slowly turning humans into conformity.

9. The War of the Worlds (1953)

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There have been a few adaptations of The War of the Worlds, a film based on the 1898 H.G. Wells novel of the same name. This 1953 alien invasion movie was simply the first and one of the best. The film takes place in Southern California and tells the story of Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Berry), a well-respected atomic scientist who is out fishing when he sees a large object fall from the sky.

That night, after the object has been found, a round hatch located on the object opens up, revealing a Martian. It then proceeds to vaporize the men who had been standing guard.

As expected, more aliens appear, and their intentions are less than friendly. The War of the Worlds is on, and our weapons are proving to be useless. Is there any hope for mankind?

8. Starship Troopers (1997)

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Back in 1959, prolific science fiction author Robert Heinlein published an excellent book titled Starship Troopers. Nearly 40 years later, the book was finally turned into an alien invasion movie of the same name that audiences couldn’t get enough of. The film was brought to the big screen by director Paul Verhoeven, who did not skimp on the nudity or gory violence.

Starship Troopers follows a group of teenagers, led by Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) who decide to join the military’s United Citizen Federation after hostile aliens, known as Arachnids, call for an all-out war. The war is brutal, the deaths are many, and the odds are heavily stacked against Rico and his friends.

7. Independence Day (1996)

Will Smith


If you have seen any Roland Emmerich films, you know he loves to go big. As a writer and director, Emmerich (who has been given the moniker “master of disaster”) has been on the directing ending of such big blockbusters like Stargate, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Midway, and Moonfall. With the 1996 alien invasion movie, Independence Day, he was definitely large and in charge.

Independence Day stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, and Margaret Colin as some of the many that are forced to fight off a massive alien invasion taking over the world. It is going to take all their combined smarts, plus one inspiring Presidential address by Pullman’s President Whitmore, to see if humanity can be saved.

6. War of the Worlds (2005)

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No, you aren’t misreading things here. Yes, this is the second War of the Worlds on our list of best alien invasion movies, and it is well deserved. Steven Spielberg teamed up with Tom Cruise in 2005 to produce a remake of the 1953 hit and did it score.

Cruise plays single dad Ray Ferrier, a crane operator whose relationship with his children isn’t what it should be. Things change for the Ferrier family when a sudden lightning strike causes a power outage. When Ray joins the crowd to see what is happening, a tripod alien war machine rises from the depths to start destroying anything in its path.

The War of the Worlds has begun (again) and Ray must figure out how to survive with his kids in tow. Spielberg does what he does best, create mood, atmosphere, dread, and terror all within an alien invasion.

5. The Thing (1982)


The beauty of John Carpenter’s 1982 alien invasion movie The Thing is that it is small in scale. The action is isolated to a base camp in Antarctica, though said action is quite intense. The Thing stars Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady, a helicopter pilot and part of a group of researchers who are stationed at a research facility.

Their lives are at risk when an alien life form begins to take over the base. This life form has the ability to imitate other organisms, in this case, humans. MacReady and crew are then in a battle of life and death with The Thing as it moves from one host to another making for one gory intense moment after another. Carpenter created an alien invasion classic.

4. District 9 (2009)

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District 9 is a Neill Blomkamp film that stars Sharito Copley as Wikus van de Merwe, a bumbling agent who is in charge of the relocation of aliens.

When we first meet Wikus, the alien invasion has already taken place. In South Africa, where the film takes place, these aliens have been put in camps. Over the years though, these camps have turned into slums, so the government needs to relocate them.

While Wikus is doing his job, he is inadvertently sprayed in the face by some alien fuel. Slowly, Wikus begins to turn into one of the aliens. This invasion story turns into a man on the run as he tries to find a solution before he completely turns into an alien.

3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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The Day the Earth Stood Still is an alien invasion movie that is ultimately about the choices we make as humankind. Michael Rennie stars as Klaatu, an alien who has landed on Earth with a gift. Upon trying to open this gift, one of the soldiers becomes nervous and ends up shooting him. An alien robot emerges from Klaatu’s spaceship, weapon in hand, and uses it to disintegrate all the Army’s weapons.

As the action ends, Klaatu explains that the gift was for the President of the United States that would have allowed the President to study life forms not on Earth. This is simply the beginning of Klaatu’s adventure as he tried to convince humanity he means no harm. At every turn, unfortunately, Klaatu’s actions are rebuffed.

When Klaatu finally realizes humanity is in trouble, he gives them a choice, join him to live in peace, or continue on their path and face world destruction.

2. Arrival (2016)

grapes of wrath series


Arrival is a complex alien invasion movie that stars Amy Adams as an expert linguist Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner as physicist Ian Donnelly who have been recruited to study the aliens who have positioned themselves across the globe and to communicate with them before tensions rise and war breaks out.

Miscommunications between the aliens and Banks have heightened tensions between world leaders and the aliens. China wants to destroy them before they can destroy us, but Banks and Donnelly don’t believe they come in with hostile intentions. Rogue soldiers make matters worse when they plant a bomb on one of the spaceships. Does the alien invasion become an all-out war?

1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

alien invasion movies


1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers was the original alien invasion movie that invented the term “pod people.” This refers to the aliens that have made Earth their home by becoming exact replicants of human hosts who fall asleep.

Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, and Larry Gates star in this tense film where one small nap could mean the end. How do you fight an alien invasion such as this? How do you stay awake…forever?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers has become synonymous with alien invasion movies with its unsettling premise. The film was also given a solid 1978 remake that starred Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Leonard Nimoy. Don’t fall asleep.

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