ALIENS IN FILM: A
by Carolyn Terpstra
Humans on Earth, beware! An advanced alien
race has arrived in a fleet of flying saucers to destroy the planet
or invade human bodies in a collaboration to take over mankind.
These deadly extra-terrestrial aliens, usually grotesque and
parasitic creatures, are conspiring to unleash unspeakable terror
throughout our small towns and large cities. Mankind must find
a way to defend itself and fight back against the alien invasion.
Stay tuned for more!
From the 1950s to the 1990s, alien films
have followed the same general plot lines: aliens invade earth,
take over mankind, and humans fight back. In movie after movie,
Hollywood has depicted aliens as unfriendly and unstoppable, threatening
the utter annihilation of mankind. Movies such as They Came
From Beyond Space (1967), Invaders from Mars (1986),
War of the Worlds (1988), and Alien Terminator (1996)
have more or less dined off each other. Each carries the stereotypical
alien plot. One can almost be guaranteed that an alien film will
contain an Earth invasion, flying saucers, body snatches, and
But what makes aliens such money-making monsters?
For decades, movie-goers everywhere have been intrigued with
the idea that aliens exist and humans have the superiority to
conquer these hideous beasts. Hollywood has capitalized on our
terror of destruction, conquest, and mind-controlling conformity
by these invincible forces of the unknown. And it works. Infamous
films like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Close
Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Independence Day
(1996) have been number one box-office hits at the theaters.
Furthermore, we tend to make heros out of the actors who can conquer
these aliens on the screen. In the 1980s, Sigourney Weaver emerged
as America's favorite alien heroine, and in the 1990s, Will Smith
protects all humans from the scum of the earth.
Nevertheless, each decade of film-making
can be distinguished by its emphasis on different aspects of aliens.
In the 1950s, alien films were marked by their near-hysterical
fascination with outer space and flying saucers. Hollywood produced
such movies as Killers from Space (1954), Earth vs.
The Flying Saucers (1956), and I Married a Monster from
Outer Space (1958). The films of the 1960s and 1970s were
based on alien invasions of human bodies. Extra-terrestrial aliens
came to Earth in The Incredible Invasion (1968), End
of the World (1977), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers
(1978). And during the 1980s, we started to sympathize with the
aliens. Suddenly, these formerly hostile invaders became more
emotionally "human" by offering spiritual friendships.
Aliens befriended humans in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
(1982), Mysterious Two (1982), Cocoon (1985) and
"Aliens Next Door" (1989).
However, the 1990s brought a whole new era
of alien films-politics became involved. Washington D.C. was
threatened with destruction, and dozens of top-secret government
agencies and alien-experimentation compounds suddenly
developed. Famous movie hits like Mortal Kombat (1995),
Independence Day (1996), Contact (1997), and Men
in Black (1997) gave their government bureaucrats great PR.
In addition, higher-paid Hollywood actors joined the previously
lesser-known forces to fight the terrors of extra-terrestrials.
In the past several years, Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Nicholson, Jodie
Foster, Glenn Close, William Baldwin, and Sharon Stone have become
Nobody doubts that extraterrestrial aliens
have become the preferred monsters in films leading into the next
century. And as long as movie-goers pay, seemingly invincible
aliens will be invading movie theaters everywhere. Humans on
Earth beware indeed!