How am I an “expert”
I spent 6 years of my life working for Blockbuster (in stores as a teenager and later, launching and serving as the head of marketing for Blockbuster)
I “grew-up” in video stores (my parents owned some for 5+ years)
I used to catch the $2 double-feature at The Lake Cinema in Lake Oswego, OR every weekend with my friends.
So, in no particular order:
The Day the Earth Stood Still
1951 film in which an intelligent, peace-loving alien (Michael Rennie) arrives on Earth to deliver a warning against nuclear power and stays to observe that his peaceful ways are embodied in many of the humans he meets. Remember: Klaatu barada nikto!
Kind of cheesy, but still entertaining action-packed flick about big, nasty bug aliens, that attack Earth. In retaliation, we send our “Space Army” to eradicate the bug threat. Warning, this movie is fairly graphic and gory. It’s set in a pseudo-Orwelian future where high school kids are heavily encouraged to become “citizens” by enlisting in the military and serving the state, not realizing they are off on a death march. As a bonus this film has a cameo by none other than Doogie Howser MD – Neil Patrick Harris.
Maybe one of the Governor’s best movies. Schwarzenegger leads a group of SWAT guys into the jungle for a rescue mission, but something is out there (turns out to be an Uber-Hunter from another planet) and it’s picking them off, one by one. Arnold is good in this, as is Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed) and Jesse “The Body” Ventura from wrestling fame. However, I think Kevin gives Arnold a tougher fight than the Predator in this post.
War of the Worlds
One of the original alien movies that’s still considered one of the best.
Based on H.G. Wells novel of the same name, Earth gets invaded by Martians.
You never really see the aliens, but just the thought of them in their spacecraft gives this movie
it’s suspense – don’t expect to be wowed by the special effects (special effects weren’t very “special” in 1953).
This movie should not be confused with the crappy Tom Cruise remake of 2005.
E.T. The Extraterrestrial
A different twist on the alien flick. This time the character is a love-able alien that easily tugs on your heart strings. If you haven’t seen it yet, or haven’t re-watched this movie for years, do so now, you’ll be surprised how good it was. This movie was also the start of the “product placement wars” in major motion pictures. Can’t remember the product – it was Reese’s Pieces! They were E.T.s favorite treat and the bait Elliot used to bring him out of hiding. I actually got an “E.T.” filled Christmas stocking in 1982 – a small plush E.T. doll and a bag of Reese’s Pieces. See – product placement works!
Both versions of the Blob, both the originals 50’s version and the updated 80’s version have a lot to offer. One a personal note, the 80’s version was filmed in my wife’s hometown of Abbeville, LA. The 80’s version is also one of the few lead movie roles for Kevin Dillon, Johnny Drama of HBO’s “Entourage” (best show on TV). The alien in this case is just that – a blob. It’s hard to imagine being scared by anything that moves so slowly, but this giant Jell-O mold eats anything in it’s path.
Killer Klowns From Outerspace
The title alone should get your attention. This movie is as bad as it sounds. It makes the list for the obsurdity of the plot and special effects. Alien Clowns come from outer space that shoot ray guns turning people into cotton candy wrapped treats that the clowns later feed on through silly straws (I’m not making this up). The one thing you’ll learn from this movie is to always shoot or hit an alien clown in the nose (it makes them explode).
The Last Starfighter
Great movie. The graphics were way ahead of it’s time (1984) and it actually features a rare combination – a good plot and good actors. This movie gave every trailer-park-video-game-playing-kid the dream that they could save the universe. As a kid, this movie made me wish I had my own “Beta-unit” to do my chores while I joined Star-Command to save the universe.
Flight of the Navigator
A 12-year-old boy, is mysteriously abducted by an alien ship and returns to Earth eight years later, still only 12. He now possesses great navigational powers that enable him to fly his space ship anywhere he desires. Along with the help of robotic Commander Max (voiced by Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman) he “takes off” on adventure. I know it sounds a little corny, but this is actually a really entertaining movie that has stood the test of time. It’s the kind of film you wish Disney still made more of.