Run Away! Best Alien Movie, TV Invasions
By Tricia Romano Posted Nov 3rd 2009 10:30AM
At the end of the ten-minute opening scene of the re-imagining of 'V' (debuting tonight on ABC), two overly excited guys are being interviewed by TV. "Dude! This is Independence Day!" one of them says of the by-now familiar site of giant spaceships hovering in the sky. "Which was a rip off of any number of alien invasion predecessors," says his annoyed friend. It's a smart, self-aware way to deflect the obvious: by now we've seen so many alien invasion images, that you'd think we'd be pretty blase about it in real life. (Another giant spaceship hovering over a major city? Booooring.) And when you factor in the all-true scenes of 9-11, alien invasions can be pretty boring, indeed.
Let's take a look back at some of the most memorable alien movie and TV invasions to get a better look at the originators and the copycats.
'V' -- 1983
When 'V' first aired, CGI special effects were not yet in use, and so the images of the spaceships hovering over major cities were created the old fashioned way (and, oh boy, does it show). However, in the mini-series, it took days, not minutes to hear from the Visitors. They finally spoke in the reassuring form of Richard Herd, albeit with a weird out-of-this-world voice. The reaction of the Earthlings is to be expected: sheer chaos (with people fleeing in droves and running in the streets) to -- in the suburbs -- blase curiosity (one could say, eventually, morbid curiosity). Only stupid humans would think, "Here's a giant unidentified flying object, let's stand outside and stare at it!"
When watching the new 'V,' you think that 'Independence Day' basically wrote the script for alien spacecraft hovering over giant cities. In fact, 'Independence Day''s opening montage is a direct rip off of 'V''s, which came over a decade before the Hollywood blockbuster. The UFOs provoke the exact same response from the humans, but the aliens behave in one crucially different way. Instead of becoming intergalactic backstabbers, ("We mean you no harm, no really,") they get down to business right away, and immediately blast our cities and monuments to smithereens with their super-powered spaceships. Hey, that wasn't very nice!
If a bratty prank-prone six-year old boy took the form of a Martian, he'd be one of the Martians in 'Mars Attacks!', Tim Burton's comic send up of alien flicks features the ugliest, goofiest looking bunch of visitors, yet. They arrive in many tiny flying saucers, have over-sized craniums (with their big brains, on full display) bug-like eyes, and a mean sense of humor befitting of the playground bully. They receive a red carpet Hollywood welcome in the desert, and hover out of their spaceships wearing a ridiculous glittery velvet robe. Everything seems O.K. until a spectator releases a dove and the Martians freak out and immediately incinerate it -- and everything else -- in sight. Yeah, not the friendly type.
'War of the Worlds' -- 1953
In the original version in 1953, people are going about their business, going to the movies and walking around when they see a blazing shooting light fall from the sky. One guy asks, "Is that a fireball or somethin'?" Another replies. "Ooh, that's big." The object sets off a series of small fires, but the locals don't seem too bothered by it. It smolders and everyone assumes it's an extremely large meteor-which seems to be somewhat radioactive. Nothing happens until the nighttime, when a part of the object starts to move, unscrewing itself for an audience of three men. When they see an object twirling out of the hole exploring, the unwitting men come up with a series of unintentionally hilarious approaches: "Welcome to California," says one. Another says. "I'll get a white flag!" Do we really need to tell you how this ends? (Yes, badly.)
'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' -- 1978
In the remake (starring Donald Sutherland and a very young Jeff Goldblum) of the original film, the aliens don't have a big, showy arrival. Instead, they are insidious. They grow from pods and replicate people by taking their form when people are sleeping. The invaders aim to take over the human race entirely because they've had to leave their planet (located in "deep space" -- we never learn more) which means there's no need for the real versions to still exist. We're wondering if we'll ever get some nice aliens. How come E.T. doesn't come back with his people?
'The Day the Earth Stood Still' -- 1951
Remember when aliens didn't look like giant infected lobsters and instead resembled a cool exercise in post-modern minimalism? You'll have to go back to the 50s for that; ditch the Keanu Reeves remake and check out the original version of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still,' where a lone alien, wearing a helmet with a glowing infrared ray of light is enough to scare a whole battalion of our mighty army, simply by walking down the ramp. Additionally, the alien robot's laser beam can disarm and vaporize weapons in a single glance. Let's not pay attention to the fact that he moves slower than a turtle and we can still be scared.
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