Aliens have come to Earth in many movies. Sometimes they invade us, sometimes they warn us, and other times, they crash by accident. When that happens, the collision often thrusts ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances, making for a formula that has been irresistible for decades. This is our list of the best movies where aliens crash-land in people’s yards.
An encounter with aliens is never what you expect. Especially when the alien is Paul.
This comedy hit follows a couple of tourists on a road trip to Area 51 who pick up a little gray alien along the way. Voiced by Seth Rogen, this crass extraterrestrial goes by Paul, and he is on the run from a government that wants to dissect him.
The cast is stacked with comedy legends, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, and of course, Seth Rogen.
The American desert is not exactly the main characters’ backyard, but it is close enough to put Paul on our list of lovable crash-landing aliens.
The Brother from Another Planet (1984)
If aliens came to Earth, they would surely find things we consider normal to be very strange. The Brother from Another Planet takes this concept to a whole new level. This film follows a mute alien who resembles a black human man after he crash lands on Ellis Island.
Writer/director John Sayles called the film a commentary on the immigration experience. It unfolds as the alien encounters a myriad of characters in New York City, chronicling the strangeness of human behavior and the racial dynamics of America.
The film is non-traditional in many ways, but it is a fascinating exploration of assimilation and the human condition, doing its best to take an outsider’s perspective on Americans’ day-to-day activities.
Batteries Not Included (1987)
From producer Steven Spielberg and director Matthew Robbins, *batteries not included is a fun and uplifting story of alien visitors who make a positive difference.
When a greedy real estate developer sets out to evict a group of lovable and spirited tenants in a New York apartment building, a small fleet of tiny alien spaceships descends and befriends the struggling renters. Together, the humans and aliens thwart the eviction scheme in a story about love, friendship, and perseverance.
The film was originally conceived as an episode of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, but the filmmaker liked the concept so much that he pushed for its expansion as a feature film. Now, *batteries not included is a cult classic in the Amblin Entertainment catalog.
Super 8 (2011)
Sometimes the aliens that crash into your hometown don’t arrive by ship – they come by train. That is exactly the case in J.J. Abrams’s Super 8.
Inspired by his own experiences making Super 8 films as a kid in the late 1970s, and by the work of Abrams’ mentor and collaborator Steven Spielberg, Super 8 tells the story of a boy named Joe as he struggles to connect with his father in the months following his mother’s death.
Joe spends his free time making films with his friends, and one night, while shooting a scene near the train tracks, they capture a train crash. An alien emerges from the wreckage to haunt the town, and it is up to Joe and his friends to solve the mystery and send the creature home.
Aliens and broken families go hand in hand in Hollywood, and Super 8 is an entertaining example of why.
Stories about aliens can be frightening, but they can be equally heartwarming. Starman is definitely the latter.
From legendary director John Carpenter, this film stars Jeff Bridges as an alien being who takes the form of a deceased man, the husband of a widow played by Karen Allen. He then implores her to get him across the country to a rendezvous point where he can return to his own kind.
Starman is science fiction, but at its heart, it is a romance drama. It tackles grief and human hostility, examining the beauty and fragility of love and life.
It is not John Carpenter’s most famous movie, but it is a key piece of his impressive filmography that is built on powerhouse performances from its stars and a script that explores fascinating ideas in riveting emotional detail.
The Iron Giant (1999)
From The Incredibles and Ratatouille director Brad Bird, The Iron Giant is an animated sci-fi throwback for the ages. When a giant robot from outer space crashes near a small town in Maine, a boy named Hogarth finds and befriends him.
Hogarth and the Giant are both misunderstood; Hogarth is a troublemaker, and the Giant is being hunted by the United States government. Together, they uncover what it means to be human, and ultimately, what it means to be a hero.
The film explores fears of aliens and other unknowns that plagued the atomic age of the 1950s, perfectly capturing the spirit of the era’s b-movies and enriching it with texture and depth.
The Iron Giant is essential viewing. Just keep the Kleenex box handy.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Movies where aliens crash-land in people’s yards basically began with Steven Spielberg’s E.T. This classic remains the gold standard for films of its kind, and is still one of the filmmaker’s very best works.
E.T. tells the story of a boy named Elliott and his family, all of whom are adjusting to life after Elliott’s father left them. In the throes of his anguish, Elliott finds E.T., a lovable extraterrestrial who was accidentally left on Earth by a crew of interplanetary botanists.
Elliott and E.T. forge a strong bond that gives the young boy hope for the future and the courage to say goodbye. E.T.’s arrival brings together a family falling apart at the seams, all while delivering an exciting, hilarious, and heartwarming adventure for every generation.
It is the ultimate film about aliens crash-landing in people’s yards, and one of the best movies about alien life ever made.