back to article Ten... alien invasions

Earlier this week, alien hunters donned their tinfoil hats for World UFO day and with Yanks celebrating Independence Day today, the topic of extra-terrestrial takeover lingers in the air. The public has even been debating who would be best equipped to tackle an alien invasion. Whether that's Mr. Obama, his political opponent or …


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  1. Grumpy Fellow

    But the War of the Worlds really happened

    I've been to Woking and I've seen one of the Martian fighting machines. The other films are based on fiction as far as I know.

  2. Len Goddard

    Wrong film

    I'm 90% sure the Quatermass Experiment still actually comes from the second of the quatermass series, where alien organisms were being grown in an "artifical food" plant. This is the guy who fell into one of the vats.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the Thetans?

    I was just wondering. I was so expecting some Tom Cruise jokes aplenty.

    1. BorkedAgain

      Re: What about the Thetans?

      These were fictional accounts; the Thetans actually happened. Ask anybody.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: What about the Thetans?

      Typothetans are the worst.

  4. stucs201

    Baby Elephants

    I was hoping you'd include Footfall.

    <- Archangel launch picture

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Baby Elephants

      Snap! I just came here to complain about lack of 'Footfall' as well. I'd imagine it's a little bit dated now, but then so's a lot of the stuff on this list.

      I'd also like to add in John Wyndham's 'The Kraken Wakes'. An excellent book. I think I prefer it to 'Day of the Triffids'.

      As with any list like this, there are always plenty more to add.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Baby Elephants

        And don't forget about FORGE OF GOD.

        Humans: pwned!

  5. Livlondon
    IT Angle

    What the f*ck does this have to do with the IT industry

    or Paris Hilton for that matter?

    1. John70

      Re: What the f*ck does this have to do with the IT industry

      It so we can prepare to write a computer virus and upload it into their mothership.... oh wait that has already been done in Independence Day.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: What the f*ck does this have to do with the IT industry

        In real life, when the US President plays his last (but winning) ace with the babes in the background holding their breath and well-uniformed acolytes by his side look at large computer screens ... a blue screen of death appears.

        And then death appears.

        THE END!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. jai

        Re: What the f*ck does this have to do with the IT industry

        and that's where the IT angle comes in - all these sci-fi filme, so much more fiction than science when it comes to the technology:

    2. Nigel 11
      IT Angle

      Re: What the f*ck does this have to do with the IT industry

      99% of software is crap

      99% of Hollywood alien invasion movies are crap.

      1. I think so I am?
        Thumb Up

        Re: What the f*ck does this have to do with the IT industry

        "99% of Hollywood movies are crap"

        fixed that for you.

      2. Ru

        Re: "99% of software is crap"

        As any fule kno (and as Sturgeon observed) a similar percentage of everything is crap. Neither software nor Hollywood are unusual in this respect.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: "99% of software is crap"

          Should I ask about the 1% of crap that isn't crap?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "As any fule kno"

          I'd suggest not mentioning that around the "we are the 99%" protesters...

          1. SoaG

            Re: "As any fule kno"

            Well, they certainly smell like crap...

  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    For an invasion

    B movie I'd pick Mars attacks... much more fun than Independence day "hey , you'll need a lawyer right?" <ZZAAAP>

    But why pick The Quatermass experiment when Quatermass and the pit was so much better especially to an 11 yr old hiding behind the sofa.

    And what can beat War of the worlds: the album, Richard Burton and some kick ass music stomps Tom Cruise's effort flat(if he was standing on some boxes)

    But just remember guys , all these films are just a distraction from the real rulers of this planet, and I'll leave you with just one hint... keep those robots bolted to the floor....

    1. CADmonkey

      "what can beat War of the worlds: the album"

      Sadly, 30-odd years can.

      I listened to a bit of it the other day - it hasn't aged well. It's like the film Madagascar - it's all about that one song!

      1. Eddie Edwards

        Re: "what can beat War of the worlds: the album"

        Is it the album that hasn't aged well, or the human race? It's only about that one song if you've become an album-hating "everything except the hit single is just filler" kind of guy. You don't listen to "a bit" of that album. This was 1978, a time you were expected to play it through from start to finish and experience it as a whole concept, while admiring the gatefold sleeve. It doesn't even get going until side 2 (of 4).

        PS: get off my lawn

        1. BorkedAgain
          Thumb Up

          Re: "what can beat War of the worlds: the album" @ Eddie

          I'm with you except for the bit about "doesn't get going until..."

          All it takes is Richard Burton's stark "No-one could have believed..." and I get goosebumps.

          I grew up on this, though.

  7. Steve D

    Where is The Thing?

    The John Carpenter one.

  8. Fibbles

    What... No Hitchhikers Series?

    But the Earth gets invaded by the Vogons and the Golgafrinchans! That's twice as many aliens as most of these films...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: What... No Hitchhikers Series?

      No "Species"

      No "Stargate" (the series).

      No ...

      Very lame list...

      1. Miaau

        Re: What... No Hitchhikers Series?

        Yeah, alien invasions, see. That is the one where the aliens come to Earth and try to to take over, you know a movie like Species, Not Stargate. or ... Hitchhikers guide

    2. annodomini2
      Thumb Down

      Re: What... No Hitchhikers Series?

      Not technically an invasion:

      1. They didn't take over the world, as the aliens were already in control.

      2. They blew it up.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Dont forget the mice!!!!

    Actually, I came to complain about Footfall being missed out as well, but I do not agree it is dated, not quite. I have read that some of the weapons used by the "baby elephants in elevator shoes and flying hang gliders" are actually being worked on seriously.

    I especially liked the part where they form a special tactical team of sci-fi writers to help plan the fight back!!

    Archangel taking off!

    1. Andy Fletcher

      Ah, but the mice...

      ...were nowhere near as devious as the dolphins. The mice were in it for the knowledge and little good it did them. The dolphins on the other hand concentrated on fish. Delicious fish.

  10. Gavin McMenemy

    Bit surprised at the choice of the Quatermass Experiment. It's fine but not as great or as eerie as Quatermass and the Pit. I believe it's the only TV show to cause the houses of parliament to take a break.

    The Hammer remake is good too.

    By far my favourite Quatermass story.

  11. Yet Another Commentard

    Independence Day and War of the Worlds

    Are they not exactly the same plot - as in Independence Day is the HG Wells book set in the US but with the twist of a computer virus and not a cold virus doing for the aliens?

    Mind you, so is Mars Attacks. Perhaps we should just do a list of "films with the plot of War of the Worlds"

    Of the three, Mars Attacks wins purely because it does not take itself seriously, and mercilessly kills A list actors left right and centre.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Independence Day and War of the Worlds

      Mars Attacks:

      Most of those actors did the thing for scale rates too, just for the hell of it.

      I recall Tim Burton saying he was mystified that Tom Jones hadn't made films before, as he turned out to be really bloody good as an actor and a joy to work with, unlike most other celebs-turned-filmstars it had been his displeasure to deal with over the years. When this was put to Tom Jones, his response was that he'd have loved to go into acting earlier, he'd really enjoyed doing it, but nobody'd ever bothered to ask him before.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Independence Day and War of the Worlds

      +1 for Mars Attacks, funny as hell and really not taking itself seriously and taking ridicule to new heights. The nuclear bomb trapped explosion that gets inhaled by the Martian commander to get high is a particularly brilliant take on the "our most advanced weapons can't touch them" theme.

      1. I think so I am?

        Re: Independence Day and War of the Worlds

        Mars Attacks opening scene with the burning cow is just the best opening ever for a film.

        The only opening better would be if the film titanic started with the ship sinking.

        I want a half troll icon

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Another vote for flying elephants!

    +1 for the Traveller Fithp.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    For me V topped it, but only because I saw this as a kid, got scared stiff when Donovan pulled of the skin in the first pilot episode and the whole story was very intriguing IMO. The now classic question of "what if...".

    I also recall another sci-fi / horror-like series but completely forgot the name, maybe any of you guys recall this: it featured around Mars; people could travel there (it was colonized) but the planet housed (of course) aliens who were actually friendly. They manifested themselves as blue orbs, could change into whatever they wanted (what people thought of) but didn't like it very well when 'we' tried to invade Mars.

    Any of you happen to recall this ?

    1. John McCallum

      Re: V

      I think that was the Martian Chronicles.Been a long time since I last saw that on the box.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: V

        Based on the Ray Bradbury novel 'The Silver Locusts', which was retitled after the TV series.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: V

        Thanks a bunch, much appreciated!

    2. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: V

      Martian Chronicles (renamed) is right.

      For some reason it always makes me think of the Levi's advert with Babylon Zoo's "Spaceman" as the song. Now I need a cold shower.

  14. SoaG


    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    A better alien invasion movie is simply not possible.

  15. h4rm0ny

    The Man Who Fell To Earth

    It's not quite an alien invasion movie, but for one slight twist in the alien's plan it very nearly could have been. And it's one of the most effective plans in the history of sci-fi. A lone alien arrives, disguised as a human being. He takes out some revolutionary patents based on processes unknown to humanity at the time and using its superior intelligence and the odd bit of judiciously applied knowledge about how tech will develop (given it influences discoveries), commences to build a business empire that would make Rockefeller blush. The only thing that stops the alien from more or less just taking over the Earth by simply exploiting the way our society works, is that its intent isn't actually to take over but to achieve something else. Of course the something else is so mind-numblingly stupid it makes the cleverness of the rest of the plot meaningless, but it's still an outstanding idea for how an alien could gain control on Earth using just a smattering of superior knowledge.

    1. Thorne

      Re: The Man Who Fell To Earth

      Oh my god! You just described Apple. The fanbois are actually victims of brainwashing. The only difference is they didn't patent revolutionary stuff, just the obvious.

    2. Jeebus

      Re: The Man Who Fell To Earth

      Suffers a moronic ending, much like Holy Grail, someone thought it was clever and time has proven them incorrect.

  16. Cameron Colley

    What about Chocky?

    It was a little frightening to watch as a child and the plot has been pinched by at least one sci-fi TV show.

    The book, of course, was even better.

    1. ACx

      Re: What about Chocky?

      I was terrified by that!!! Well happy Im not the only one who remembers it :)

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: What about Chocky?

        Chocky wasn't terrifying. What istruly terrifying is if you watch it today and realize how paced, intelligent and thoughtful it was compared to children's television today. The little boy in Chocky was clever and showed excellent logic skills, integrity and forethought. I can only imagine that a child of the same age as that character in today's media would be deemed far too unrealistic.

      2. 7-zark-7

        Re: What about Chocky?

        Agreed. I have great memories of Chocky and Chocky's Children on childrens TV. I remember finding it quite disturbing as a child.

    2. Richard Ball

      Re: What about Chocky?


      1. Nigel 11

        Re: What about Chocky?

        Triffids weren't aliens. We made them.

    3. Nigel 11

      Re: What about Chocky?

      And there's the comedy version - Gremlins

    4. breakfast Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: What about Chocky?

      There should definitely be some Wyndham here- Day Of The Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Kraken Wakes are all fantastic alien invasion stories.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: What about Chocky?

        The Kraken Wakes is one of the best alien invasion stories ever written. Not purely for the well-thought out attack or for the acknowledgement that the aliens may actually have different environmental needs than us, but for humanity's inability to operate on the time-scales necessary to counter the alien threat. There's a conversation in it where the viewpoint characters who are journalists, interview a scientist (Professor Brock?) who completely fails to understand how the general public aren't alarmed by the same things he is alarmed by. Quite chilling and far too believable.

        1. BorkedAgain
          Thumb Up

          Re: What about Chocky?

          +1. Spot on. John Wyndham has long been among my favourite sci-fi writers because his scenarios are so far beyond the obvious straight-on battlefleets-in-the-sky idea most folks seem to favour. I have to admit a weakness for the slightly twee characters as well, but they're proper characters with believable voices.

          I'm not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed that nobody's done a movie of The Kraken Wakes. If it were done well it could be spectacular (the night of the sea-tanks?) but some idiot would ruin it with 3-d effects (tentacles whipping out at the viewer... Yawn...) and flying monsters. If it watched like it read, I'd go see it...

  17. Graham Dresch

    Just a few errors...

    The Alien Invasion episode was Quatermass II, where the aliens descend in aerodynamic capsules and take over the population of a small village 6 miles from Carlisle ( actually Hemel Hempstead )

    The only acceptable version of War of the Worlds was the 1953 version by George Pal, the 2005 remake had the wrong story, the wrong location and the wrong cast, I'm still waiting for somebody to film this true to the original book.

    How you can describe any remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers magnificientis a huge fail, nothing comes close to the original Don Siegel version.

    and some you missed, on the basis of actual invasion by aliens...

    Village of the Damned

    Plan 9 from Outer space

    and... To Serve Man by Damon Knight ( Twiglet Zone 1962 )

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a few errors...

      The "Twiglet Zone"? Sounds horrifying!

  18. John G Imrie

    How can you mention War of the Worlds...

    and miss out Orson Welles

  19. Why Not?

    Sub optimal

    Day of the triffids, cocoon?

    Oh and of course BATTLEFIELD EARTH.

    I vote for V both versions, teenage dreams of Diana Mark 1 & mature appreciation of Mark 2 in her Birthday suit!

    1. Thorne

      Re: Sub optimal

      Old day of the triffids was ok (except they're not alien) New series was pitiful.

      Battlefield Earth was a lemon. Story made no sense at all.

      The new series of V could have been good but the moment it started on religion all hope was lost.

  20. veti Silver badge

    War of the Worlds deserves a place in history

    In 1953, when the first movie version of 'War of the Worlds' was made, it had the distinction of being the Only Film in the History of Hollywood in which US Marines were defeated.

    But what I'm more upset about missing from this list is daleks and cybermen...

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: War of the Worlds deserves a place in history

      Cybermen don't qualify. They're not aliens, they're technologically-created zombies.

      Daleks really should be on the list, though. Any Dr. Who saves Earth from Daleks sequence beats "Independance Day" on every front, including plot intelligence and plot believability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: War of the Worlds deserves a place in history

        Doctor Who has had an alien invasion of Earth pretty much every week - Daleks trundling across Westminster Bridge, Yetis in the Underground, Krynoids lurking round Mick Jagger's mansion, mummies lurching around the same mansion, Julian Glover pulling his face off in Paris, and Cybermen (yes they are aliens) stomping around St. Pauls just being some of the better ones.

        1. stucs201

          Re: War of the Worlds deserves a place in history

          Well with Cybermen it depends. New cybermen are from Earth (even if it is a parallel one). Proper Cybermen are aliens though.

  21. Graham Marsden

    Try watching...

    ... Independance Day and Mars Attacks back to back like I did...!

    1. Graham Bartlett

      Re: Try watching...

      And you still didn't tell the Syrian police what they wanted to know? Man, you're tough!

      1. Graham Marsden

        Re: Try watching...

        I was laughing so hard they just gave up in disappointment!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm looking but I don't see...

    The Day The Earth Stood Still.

    Was it as thought-provoking as I remembered?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: The Day the Earth Stood Still

      The original was pretty good. The remake, with Keanu Reeves planking the lead role, is sort-of-OK too, though Jennifer Connelly is wasted (i.e. not a cleavage-lifting satin dress in sight). It begins with the old staple of a sudden rush to gather experts together in secret because, as everyone knows, whenever a culture meets a technologically superior culture the inferior one is always completely wiped out. Which if you actually stop to think about it is a distinctly american-centric paranoid-power-mad point of view, that doesn't actually pan out when you consider worldwide history; or just listen to Paul Simon's 'Graceland' album.

  23. Blake St. Claire

    District 9, an alien invasion?

    More like an alien's space ship broke down on the freeway and now they're panhandling at the gas station.

    And Footfall wasn't a movie or a TV show like everything else on the list. (And Pournelle was just a fscking hack leaching off Niven as far as I'm concerned.)

    1. Rob 5


      Come back when you've gained a couple of PhDs (back when that was hard), been an advisor to a US president on SDI and other stuff, been Barry Goldwater's campaign manager, started the world's first blog (before the word "blog" existed and which is still going strong today), written a shed load of successful novels in your own right, edited Survivalist magazine, been a contributing editor/columnist for Byte (which you're probably too young to remember) and a shed load more that I can't be bothered to type and say that.

      We'll still think that you're an idiot.

      1. Aldous

        Re: Pournelle

        agreed, even if that was the case (which it isn't)who cares as the pair wrote many great books together. unless i've missed something the only person that could justifiably make this claim is niven himself and i've not seen that anywhere.

    2. Rob 5

      And another thing

      It's "leeching" not "leaching", unless you're claiming that JP has a business extracting metals by converting them into soluble salts in an aqueous media contained in Niven's cellular membranes.

      Which would be technologically impressive, I'll grant, but is probably not what you were trying to say..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: And another thing

        THIS ^ is why I love reading El Reg comments....

  24. graeme leggett Silver badge

    Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

    Obvious candidate, though the fact that everyone in 2150 dressed and talked like 1965 is a bit awkward now I think of it.

    1. hplasm

      Re: Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

      London never really recovered from the 2012 Olympics...


  25. Torben Mogensen

    Other invasions

    District 9 has basically the same premise as Alien Nation: Aliens are stranded on Earth and become a new lower class.

    As for War of the World adaptations, I quite like the Marvel comic book series that shows Earth under Martian rule after a 2nd invasion. It started out being called "War of the Worlds" but was later named after its lead character "Killraven". A similar premise is used in John Cristopher's Tripod series. So it would be fairly safe to say that WotW has been the inspiration of quite a few alien invasion stories.

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Other invasions

      I recommend the graphic novel adaptation by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli

      plus they did two sequels which showed the effect Martian Technology had on the British Empire - excellent stuff!

      Not forgetting Volume II of The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen...

    2. Graham Bartlett

      Re: Other invasions

      Similar premise anyway - Alien Nation has more "human" aliens.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    OK, only suggesting it 'cos I slept with one of the extras.

    Happy days but a crap show.

  27. Spoonsinger

    I read this whole article "With Folded Hands".

    But then I'm not here to serve you.

  28. The Jon
    Thumb Up

    Bad Taste?

    Crumbs Crunchy Delights.

    An entire alien invasion thwarted by a man called Derek.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Bad Taste?

      Stick all the bits of brain in a plastic bag, Barry.

  29. handeldujour

    Childhood's End vs 2001

    Kubrick only read Childhood's End in the latter stages of 2001 production - and so liked it, he wanted to change the ending.

    But fortunately this was downvoted by AC.Clarke. These days 2001 is presented as being written "during the filmmaking" but at the time 2001 was a development of "The Sentinel" short story and the book was (chicken-and-egg) written prior to the film.

  30. andy gibson

    Rendezvous with Rama?

    OK. so it didn't make it into a film, it wasn't an invasion as such, but what a cracking UFO novel.

    Speaking of UFO - Gerry Anderson's "UFO" was superb.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rendezvous with Rama?

      Not exactly a feature length, but well worth watching.

  31. Maxson

    Word has it that...

    ...Spieberg walked all over the existing material and took a big steaming shite on it too.

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Aulty

    You missed my favourite

    Invaders, or was it "the invaders" with Roy Thinnes I think.

    Loved that as a teenager.

    The invaders looked human, apart from one flaw.

    Was it their little or ring finger was at an angle AFAIR.

    Absolute classic. mind you, I thought shoestring was classic when I was young.

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