Alien Invasions of Earth!

TMP

One of the most iconic Hollywood images of the ’90s was, well…

independence day

I was 15 at the time and loved every minute of Independence Day. It was, if not the first, the most impressive alien invasion of earth that I’d ever seen. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the aliens lose. There are smarter aliens out there (and smarter writers than Dean Devlin) who know that if you attack us from the sky with lasers, it’s just going to piss us off. Hiding in plain sight and attacking us from within? That’s just crazy enough to work and it’s a theme in all three of my picks this week.

invasion of the body snatchers

Invasion of the body Snatchers (1956)– Some of the scariest movie aliens I’ve ever seen are plants from space that take control of a human hosts body. The catch is that, once they’ve got a hold of you, you need to fall asleep for the snatching to take effect. When I first saw this when I was in high school, I couldn’t imagine anything more scary or more relatable than having to fight off sleep to stay alive. This has always been one of my favourite sci-fi movies and, rewatching it this week, I couldn’t believe that I had visited one of the filming locations when I was in LA last month without even knowing it!

the faculty

The Faculty (1998)– The modern-day king of B-movies Robert Rodriguez teams up with Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson in this nearly perfect union between witty and silly. A Breakfast Clubish mix of students from different walks of student life must fight for their lives and their community when they start to realize that their teachers are being controlled by body snatching aliens. Usher is the star quarterback. Jon Stewart is a nerdy science teacher. Salma Hayek is the nurse. This is the perfect movie to treat yourself to after sitting through…

under the skin

Under the Skin (2014)– The alien doesn’t exactly hide in plain sight here. After all, there’s nothing plain about Scarlett Johansson. She cleverly uses her appeal though to lure men into her clutches though, with graphically aroused men continuing to walk towards her even as they are already starting to sink into her black pool of doom. Under the Skin is creepy as hell (check out Jay’s excellent review of the score) and not much fun. Alien invasion here is more a metaphor for… what exactly? I’m only about halfway there in figuring that out.

 

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38 thoughts on “Alien Invasions of Earth!

  1. Matt Post author

    Yeah, she definitely intrigued me with it. I can’t say the music got under my skin quite as much but the movie itself sure stayed with me. We’d sure be interested to know what you think once you’ve seen it.

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  2. Andrew

    Under the Skin! Yeah…love that movie.
    The Faculty had a great showing today, which is awesome. So happy to see that. It’s a film that most people disregard, but it’s really well crafted and exciting.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Yeah, I thought The Faculty had been pretty much forgotten even among Robert rodriguez fans. I was very surprised to find it on at least two other lists that I’ve seen so far.

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  3. MovieManJackson

    Watched The Faculty a few months back for the first time. B-movie all the way, but I was surprised at how many stars (or people who we thought would reach superstardom) appear in it! Who would have thought bit players in this Usher & Jon Stewart would be the biggest superstars out of this cast?

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  4. filmfunkel

    I love this soundtrack. This one & Reznor’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo play most often when I’m working & need something ambient & disquieting.

    Under the Skin’s also one of those odd films where either of my theories are equally plausible. (I love when a film is creepy AND cerebral.)

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    1. Matt Post author

      I don’t know if I’ve ever been in the mood for “disquieting” music when I’m working.
      Under the Skin definitely got me thinking, you’re right.

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  5. kmSalvatore

    Wow… Haven’t thought about the body snatchers in a long time… I gotta say that was a movie b4 it’s time. It was great. I’m not into those types of movies ,very much…. So I got nothing to add;) but thanks for your update Matt

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    1. Matt Post author

      And I’m bummed that I didn’t even realize there was a book until now.
      I can’t believe how much support I’m getting for The Faculty.

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  6. Jordan Dodd

    Great post. I haven’t seen those first two but your description of them makes me really want to. Especially Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. I’ve heard the name a lot, I think its time I actually went and watched it!! I like how your described the fear of falling asleep…. damn that sounds like a menacing film.

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    1. Matt Post author

      It’s barely even my week. Lucky you got me interested in under the Skin so I could come up with a third pick. Most of my favourite alien movies aren’t invasion movies.

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  7. Birgit

    I have seen Independence Day and the special effects are good and I like Will Smith but Vivica is as stupid as they come plus I laughed out loud when I saw that the space ship seemed to have the same type of wheel we use in cars. Of course Invasion of the Body Snatchers freaked me out and is an excellent film which is why I have it in my top 3. I have not seen Under the Skin or The Faculty but I have to give that last one a try. My hubby wants to see Under The skin for obvious reasons:)

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    1. Matt Post author

      Yeah, in retrospect, I’m actually a little embarassed for us who lived through the 90s and lined up to make Independence Day the highest grossing movie of 1996. It was pretty entertaining at the time though.
      The Faculty is guilty pleasure at its best.
      The obvious reasons being.. oh, ok. I get it.

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  8. joelnox

    I prefer this version of Body Snatchers to the remake although as remakes go that’s a good one. However both are so unnerving I don’t re-watch them, still excellent film. Can’t believe how frequently The Faculty has shown up today! I hadn’t realized it had so many fans, I liked but didn’t love it but a great cast. Haven’t gotten to Under the Skin quite yet but it is on my list to watch soon.

    I picked Independence Day as one of my extras, I thought about leaving it off but the last couple films that I thought for sure would be everywhere turned out to be forgotten, happily that didn’t happen to this fun, goofy, exciting plot hole laden adventure.

    Here’s what I came up with:

    Slither (2006)-A meteor crashes outside a small southern town unleashing a plague of parasitic worms that turn the townspeople into zombies. The sheriff and the wife of one of the victims try and figure out a way to fight the slithering danger before it gets to them. Good performances by Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks in this mix of comedy and horror.

    The Hidden (1987)-Dealing with a sudden spate of violent crime, perpetuated by people who until the last few days had no history of any wrongdoing, a cop is joined in the hunt by an FBI agent who has a strange aura about him. Turns out he is an alien in pursuit of a murderous intergalactic parasite that is using whatever host is available to cause mayhem until it is so damaged that he moves onto the next. Action packed film distinguishes itself from the pack by being laced with humor, a gritty feeling and solid performances from it cast. Kyle MacLachlan in particular stands out as the FBI agent from another world.

    The Andromeda Strain (1971)-A satellite crashes in the New Mexico desert carrying an alien germ that causes the death of all but two people in a nearby town. A group of scientists are whisked away to a secure underground government lab to try and solve the mystery of the survivors and isolate and destroy the life form before it can cause worldwide destruction. This cerebral take on alien invasion based on a Michael Crichton bestseller is set almost exclusively in the underground bunker.

    Honorable Mentions-Independence Day (1996)-A belligerent alien society tries to invade the planet and destroy mankind but not if an ass kicking Will Smith and a small band of scientists and soldiers has anything to say about it! Popcorn entertainment is big, loud, showy and a whole lot of mindless fun.

    The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)-A gentle alien lands and warns humans that they must learn to live peaceably or be destroyed to keep them from becoming a threat to other planets. Seminal sci-fi picture that is miles above most genre pics that were being produced at the time.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Oh I read Michael Crichton’s novel but never thought to even watch The Andromeda Strain. Thanks for the recommendation. Also, I never really considered watching the remake of Invasions of the Body Snatchers, despite loving the original so much. You saying it isn’t half bad is making me reconsider.

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  9. JoAnne

    I’ll never forget the 1978 version of Body Snatchers with Donald Sutherland. What stayed with me more than the fear of falling asleep was imagining trying to hide all emotion to blend in, never knowing who was safe and who had been snatched.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Like I was just telling Joel, I always assumed I’d hated Invasion of the Body Snatchers getting the 70s treatment and have avoided it til now. You’re both making me feel like I need to give it a try.

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  10. Wendell

    I’m so happy The Faculty got so much love this week. I like the original of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but prefer the ’78 version. ID4 was great on the big screen at the theater. Didn’t hold my interest at home. And Under the Skin is a giant YES, for me. Great picks.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Thanks, Wendell. I completely forgot that Independence Day was marketed as ID4 back then. It confused a lot of people I knew because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to follow it because they hadn’t seen the first three.

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  11. Christopher

    Those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Invasion Of The Body Snatchers please excuse the spoilers in my comment.

    I love the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers so much I even have a copy of Jack Finney’s original novel–although I’ve gotta say it’s one of those rare cases where the book just isn’t as good as the movie. My favorite part is I understand the film was originally supposed to end with Kevin McCarthy in the middle of the freeway screaming “You’re next!” but the studio execs thought this was too depressing. So the frame of Dr. Bennell being brought in as a raving lunatic was added. It seems like when the execs muck around with a film they just make it worse, but I think the frame makes Invasion so much better. Without it we could write off Dr. Bennell’s experiences as psychosis or just a bad dream.
    And the ending–calling Washington and the National Guard to stop the spread of the pods–was supposed to be happy, but we’re talking about plants. I can’t get honeysuckle out of my yard. What chance do we have against deviously sentient extraterrestrial plants?
    The end of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers isn’t really an end–it’s just the beginning.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Thanks for that, Christopher. I hadn’t heard the backstory. I’m with you in that I really did not see the end of the movie as a happy ending AT ALL. Such a rare case of the suits actually improving the movie.

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  12. SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

    Awesome article. I love these picks. Snatchers is truly terrifying and ahead of its time. Faculty is one of my fav 90s bmovies! The cast was great, the style was excellent, overall tons of Rodriguez fun.

    Under the Skin was my favorite film last year. I need to watch it again. I have my own nerdy theory about its dense themes and what’s actually going on (check out my artsie deconstruction on my site). This stylish hidden gem is so interpretive. I love how each viewer effectively gets their own version of the movie.

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