Ever since the early days of film, alien invasions have been explored by visionary directors. These aliens were often given stereotypical giant eye and ghoulish teeth, and were mainly used as a device to scare the audience. In the right hands, however, these aliens can provide a director with a vehicle to explore cultural values and beliefs. Sometimes, they can even change the way that we view society. In anticipation of the release of UNDER THE SKIN, we’re taking a look at the best movies featuring aliens living amongst humans.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
As an allegory for 1950’s McCarthyism and cold war politics, Invasion of the Body Snatchers reflects the paranoid state of the United States post WWII. Instead of using typical alien folly to scare its audience, Body Snatchers slowly builds tension, leading to the unnerving possibility that the enemy might be right in front of us. It is a major landmark in science fiction filmmaking, and its influences can still be felt today in programs such as The X Files and last year’s The World’s End.
Men in Black (2000)
Drawing from theories in American pop culture and UFO conspiracies, “men in black” are government agents dressed in black suits who harass UFO witnesses to stay quiet about what they have seen. Deconstructing this theory in a comedic and light-hearted way, Men in Black combines the witty buddy cop duo with the alien invasion creatures. This summer blockbuster was a hit filled with wit, action, and heart. Its success inspired the development of numerous superhero styled films, and two sequels.
Combining an epic love story with huge doses of Sci-Fi, The Host shows a future world where the human race has been taken over by parasitic aliens called “Souls.” The film debates the strength of one’s consciousness, humans’ love for one another, and the future of the human race looking to their destructive past, present, and imminent future. Divided between the consciousness of her human self and the mind of her alien invaded self, Melanie must protect those she loves most – proving that even in an alien invested world, love can conquer all.
My Stepmother is an Alien (1988)
The slapstick sci-fi comedy, My Stepmother is an Alien, light-heartedly addresses the cultural differences rising in America leading into the 1990s. An American scientist falls in love with a woman from out of this world (literally). With little knowledge of humanity, the alien, Celeste, behaves very oddly causing Stephen Mills to fall in love while his daughter becomes extremely wary of the alien’s past. My Stepmother is an Alien hilariously portrays an alien who wants to adapt to the Earthly way of life while also highlighting the culture clash within America.
The Hidden (1987)
A favourite amongst Sci-Fi fans, The Hidden is filled with alien infiltration, paranoia, and dread. In an interesting twist where aliens reign in their own, an FBI agent realises his partner is being used as a vessel by an alien attempting to stop another rogue alien. The Hidden questions how things may not always be as they seem and quietly spooks with unusual scenes that blend the genres of sci-fi, horror, and action, along with wonderfully scripted black comedy.
Femme fatales have come in every shape, size, and form. Species is one of the first to feature a femme fatale as an alien seductress. To add to the terror, the alien, Sil, is an unstoppable killing force on the run. It is rare for a sci-fi film to revolve around a dominating female and yet, Species does just that. Many have related the film to a modern day Frankenstein that addresses the belief that such a powerful woman must die because such power does not belong in her hands. Even with horrific and thrilling scenes, Species is stolen by the all out supremacy that Sil has as a woman, let alone an alien.
A romantic sci-fi, Starman transforms from a simple alien vs human film to a moving drama filled with scrutiny and then acceptance. Embracing the age old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” Starman brings a female human, and alien, Starman, together as they fight to save his life after crashing to earth. The two fall in love as Starman is taken back to his planet and he leaves his love alone to raise their child. With this love lost theme, Starman is unlike any sci-fi movie of the time, overflowing with heartbreak and devastating loss, while showing the true meaning of love surrounds accepting someone for who they are.
UNDER THE SKIN (2013)
As an alien anchored in Scotland, Johansson travels throughout Glasgow, disguised as a human. As she travels, she searches for lonesome men, attracting them in through sexual advances. Once she has their attention though, her intentions become clear, and as the men quickly fall for her charms, they also fall closer and closer to the unknown. UNDER THE SKIN surprises, thrills, and is one not to miss.
UNDER THE SKIN IS RELEASED IN UK CINEMAS ON 14 MARCH