Love them or hate them, but they are here to stay. Here’s a list of some of the all-time favourite screen aliens
We may not know if they really exist, but aliens are here to stay, thanks to the movies. While scientists patiently study satellite images, philosophers ponder the question of whether we are alone, and conspiracy theorists yell “Government cover-up!” about events such as the Roswell Incident (when extra-terrestrial debris supposedly crashed to earth), movie-makers have gone ahead and populated our universe in scary, meaningful and whimsical alien ways.
In turn, we love to love and hate these extraterrestrial beasts — if only judging by the fact that Avatar is still showing, giving director James Cameron's previous unsinkable-at-the-box-office ship, a run for its money. Meanwhile Predator has yet another sequel in town — definitely the best of the franchise after the original. Aliens have invaded all genres of movies — even such unlikely categories as old-fashioned children's stories (Chicken Little). Aliens in movies have also revealed truths we always suspected, but were too afraid to ask — such as how Sylvester Stallone is really an alien, as exposed in Men in Black (MIB). Moreover, franchises such as Star Wars, Star Trek and Aliens allow us to escape to alien universes for extended lengths of time. To acknowledge their lasting impact — drum roll, please — here are our nominees for celluloid's favourite aliens of all time.
E.T. The Extraterrestrial
What's not to like about ET? The kid inside most of us still secretly longs for a loyal friend with a long retractable neck, doe-like eyes, and pulsing heart-light. Despite his earthly weakness for sweets and beer, the little critter was a pretty smart guy too. By cleverly calling itself ET — and thereby sewing up the list of available, generic, extraterrestrial names — this 1982 character took a leaf out of its rather more fearsome ancestor's book.
That would be this 1979 monster, who cornered the market by patenting the term Alien as its own personal moniker. However, Ridley Scott's Alien Alienis no generic beastie. With its double set of sharp-toothed jaws and penchant for gestating in human beings, this “toothsome” horror is like nothing else we've ever feared on screen.
Genuinely toothsome, however, is this 10-foot-tall, blue-skinned, yellow-eyed hunter of the Na'vi, a humanoid species found on Pandora in James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar. She is brave and brainy, and epitomises the movie's lush visual appeal of an unspoilt Garden of Eden, where sapient beings live in tandem with Nature.
Predator absolutely defines ‘Alien Cool', in its debut outing, at least. Its slick moves and uber-camouflage suit raised the stakes in the guessing game of what lay beneath — expectations that were satisfied when it finally emerged, sporting hip dreadlocks and an in-your-face attitude.
Respect we must, this master of mystery speak and psychobabble. The diminutive Jedi master made his first film appearance in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), where he memorably instructed Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. He was also one of the few successful elements in the three Star Wars prequels, where technology permitted him to be more interactive without robbing him of his essential charm. He peacefully passed on at age 900 — in Episode VI — but is still sorely missed.
Yes, we'll allow Star Wars a second nominee, since this over-sized stuffed toy succeeded in commanding our respect, even while we wanted to give him a hug. No small feat that, even for a Wookiee. Though he was undoubtedly helped by sound designer Ben Burtt, who, apparently, created the famous Chewbacca roar from a unique mix of animal sounds including those of the walrus, badger, camel, tiger, bear and rabbit.
Frank the Pug
This smart-talking pooch is actually an extraterrestrial — a Remoolian, for those who study these things — in disguise, in Men In Black. Okay, so he can be annoying at times, as all motor-mouths tend to be, but you have to chuckle as well, at the pug. And, the MIB universe in general, where MIB agency agents wear the best threads and shades in town while policing alien activity on Earth, and earning their salary through patents from alien technology such as Velcro and liposuction.
Also known as Experiment 626, this aggressive, animated creature is a result of alien technology, created to cause chaos in the universe. A cross among a koala, French bulldog, and spiky monster, 626 escapes to Earth, and crash-lands in Hawaii. Mistaken for a doggie, he is adopted by lonely little Lilo, and the pair proves to be a perfect foil for each other's mischievous ways.
Love the ears, love the attitude. Admittedly, it was hard to pick a single alien from the Star Trek universe, but Spock was judged to have infiltrated contemporary culture more than any of the others.
Other contenders included the vicious Borg, a unique alien life form that isn't actually a species, but a sort of cybernetic malady that steals bodies and souls to build the Borg collective.