Today I decided to look at that time-tested movie trope of the alien invasion. Almost from the time we realized there was an outer space we’ve been dreaming about the life that might exist somewhere among the stars. And, almost as immediately, we decided they were probably hostile douche nozzles who would kill us, the paranoid meat sacks that we are. However, some of these “threats” posed in popular fiction have been slightly less frightening than, say, a blender turned to frappé. Whether too ridiculous, convoluted, or just plain timid, these are the alien invaders we could easily give a swirly to.
VI – WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953, 1988, 2005)
This one goes at the bottom (top) of the list because these aliens and their tripod spacecrafts actually do kill a great deal of people. It’s the perfect plan: “Martians” attack us in order to use our planet as their own. They begin growing their vegetation and pretty much decimate the planet. The only problem, of course, is they couldn’t get past our first, best, and only line of defense: a germ. These sophisticated alien invaders must not have any immune system to speak of because they wither and die in a matter of minutes after catching some unnamed bacterial infection, leaving nothing but empty husks. When the novel was written by H.G. Wells in 1898, this was probably a viable answer to the problem. Now, on the other hand, it’s just kind of silly. I hope if the aliens do invade, they’re this lame. I have a cold right now, let me cough on the fuckers.
V – THE BLOB (1958)
Similar situation as War of the Worlds, this little nugget features Steve McQueen as a teenage drag racer facing off against, well, a Blob. It’s basically just that. An alien that is nothing more than an amorphous mass of red gelatin that engulfs whatever’s in its path. It seems pretty horrible, until you find out that it can be easily stopped by a fire extinguisher. Apparently, the pressurized CO2 can render the entire thing useless and indeed freezes it utterly. Once it can’t blob after anyone anymore, the military drops it in the middle of the arctic circle, which is great until the polar ice caps melt. So soon we’re going to have to deal with global warming AND a huge alien loogie. Thanks again, military! If you get past the silly horror, The Blob is actually a thinly veiled warning against the growing Communist threat. A huge, seemingly unstoppable RED thing is sucking everything into itself and making good, honest Americans a part of its evil marauding. Not bad for 1958. All credibility does go out the door with the easier than necessary solution, and of course this hysterically out of place theme song.
IV – SIGNS
Here’s a message to all you would-be alien invaders out there: If you’re going to invade a planet and do the whole “gas them with your weird arm toxin” thing, maybe don’t invade a planet made predominantly of THE ONE THING THAT HARMS YOU!!! I do not dislike this movie, in fact as far as house/family under siege movies go, it’s probably one of the best. M. Night Shamalamadingdong does a good job of keeping the aliens more frightening by only giving us small glimpses of them, like a foot in a corn field, or a hand under a door, but then the end of the movie comes up and the whole thing is ruined. Apparently, these aliens and their infinitely advanced cloaked spaceships and coded crop circles are harmed by good ol’ H2O. Goddamned WATER brings about the death of these things. You know what planet has no water? Statistically, every other planet in the whole frigging universe. Pick one of them instead. Did you not do your homework at all? Way to fail so horrendously, aliens. I’m glad Joaquin Phoenix beat the tar out of you. You’re stupid.
III – CRITTERS
The poster for this movie is a complete misrepresentation. If a group of things that looked like that invaded Earth, I would legitimately be afraid, but the critters are actually little, carnivorous balls of fur. It’s like some Trekkies got high one night and said, “Dude, what if Tribbles could, like, eat you?” And his friend, undoubtedly said, “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude.” That’s the general conceit of this movie. But, we’re lead to believe, these koosh balls with teeth are so dangerous that two shape-shifting alien bounty hunters need to be dispatched. Really, anyone with a nine iron should be able to take these things down. Or just, like, a ruler. I think it was really just an excuse to make a monster movie with hand puppets. I liked this movie the first time I saw it, when it was called “Gremlins.”
II – INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
This is the saddest I’ve ever been in a movie theater, and I saw Spider-Man 3. A little piece of my childhood died in the summer of 2008 and went to join the part of me that used to like Star Wars. Apart from being just an all-around stupid movie, it also does what no previous Indiana Jones movie could: prove that science is actually less believable than magic. Nazis seeking enlightenment from The Ark: Good movie. Commies seeking enlightenment from Mayan space aliens: Awful movie. The actual alien portions of this movie play like any other Aliens-Were-Always-Here flick, and, sort of like Mission to Mars, amounts to a bunch of people saying things. If the aliens were willing to give the ultimate knowledge in the universe to someone, why didn’t they just go find that person instead of waiting for someone to find them? And then they have the audacity, nay, the balls to pass judgement on those that arrive? If I were Indiana Jones, I would have punched all of them in their weird, oblong crystal skulls.
I – PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE
Let me see if I can understand this plan, known to the aliens as “Plan 9.” Since the American government did not respond politely to your barrage of flying saucers, you will reanimate the corpses of the recently deceased to, what? Kill everyone? Terrible plan, right? Well, what you don’t know is that the first eight plans from outer space were even worse. I happen to have access to the previous plans from these diabolical heathens and will share them with you now.
Plan 1 From Outer Space: Let loose a pod of angry sea turtles
Plan 2 From Outer Space: Throw lit matches at everyone’s sweaters
Plan 3 From Outer Space: Send a giant robot down to Earth and kick Brit Hume really hard in the shin
Plan 4 From Outer Space: Replace all the chocolate in the world with less-delicious chocolate substitute
Plan 5 From Outer Space: Miley Cyrus (this one actually worked)
Plan 6 From Outer Space: Act really aloof and sarcastic in hopes Earth won’t know we secretly love it
Plan 7 From Outer Space: Tap everyone in the world on the shoulder and then run away
Plan 8 From Outer Space: Burrow deep into the Earth’s crust and lie dormant for millions of years until such time as an expedition makes its way toward the core of the planet and then step out and tell them we’re happy to take their literature but we’re just not very religious
This is the movie Edward D. Wood, Jr is most known for, and with good reason. It’s glorious shit. Widely regarded as the worst movie ever made, though I would personally give that dubious honor to “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” “Plan 9 From Outer Space” is that rare kind of bad movie that is so unbelievably atrocious that it has actually become entertaining. Made for about $.35, it shows that anyone can make a movie as long as they throw some zombies and flying saucers in there.
And there you have it. Aliens pose no threat.
Images: Paramount, Touchstone Pictures, New Line, Valiant Pictures