Today officially marks the inaugural Alien Day, a celebration of one of cinema’s most enduring and iconic outer space masterpieces.
To mark this day of celebration for one of the finest terrifying space thrillers and its sequels, we’ve dived into the Netflix UK library and emerged from its chest with a number of films that blur the lines between sci-fi and horror – messing up your night’s sleep in the process.
The Andromeda Strain
Based on the novel which saw Michael Crichton become one of the most interesting names in science-fiction, The Andromeda Strain is a faithful film adaptation of the story of a team of scientists who are sent to investigate the source of a deadly extra-terrestrial virus before it spreads across the Earth.
Although more ‘thriller’ than ‘horror’, The Andromeda Strain has more than enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your sofa.
One of the finest instalments of the ‘found footage’ genre, Cloverfield follows a group of New Yorkers attempting to escape from a mysterious monster tearing up Manhattan.
A huge critical hit which lived up to the viral marketing hype, and showed that there was still space for original scripts in Hollywood.
James Ward Byrkit’s mind-bending debut is even more impressive when you discover that it was shot over just five nights in his own house. The results of such restrained, economical filmmaking are far more remarkable and outlandish than you would ever expect.
A group of reuniting friends gather for a dinner party just as a comet flies overhead, and then very weird things start to happen. To say anymore would spoil the surprise, but to suffice it to say it’s wonderfully atmospheric, gripping and – perhaps most importantly at all – very naturalistic, with Byrkit coaxing highly believable performances out of his actors even as things start to get very surreal and unsettling indeed. [MB]
A notable nod to a film that acted as a trial run for the Skotak Brothers, who cut their teach creating deadly extraterrestrial beings in this mid-eighties Alien rip-off.
An expedition to a moon of Saturn goes awry when a deadly alien begins to feast on the crew. Creature proved to be a critical flop, but the special effects from the Skotaks saw them drafted in to work on Aliens.
A space-shuttle thriller mixing elements of outlandish science fiction with madness and the supernatural, Event Horizon received a panning from critics on release – but the well-paced first 60 minutes followed by the extremely overblown ending has seen the film garner something of a cult status in the years since its initial cinema run.
Well worth a watch.
Who better to bring you truly disturbing science fiction than H.P. Lovecraft?
This 1986 film by director Stuart Gordon takes loose inspiration from Lovecraft’s work to create a film which sees a scientist dragged into an different dimension, before returning as a deformed monster who looks to prey on his co-workers in their lab.
Jon Wright’s entertaining creature feature sees a small island community besieged by man-eating sea beasts during a fierce storm. And it turns out that their only weakness is alcohol. Time for everyone to hit the pub then, and get well and truly hammered…
Enjoyably tongue-in-cheek, but boasting cool monster design and some satisfying moments of suspense-and-shocks, it’s a fine horror-comedy that’s perfect for a fun evening in with a Guinness or three. [MB]
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Often considered the gold standard of remakes, Invasions of the Body Snatchers was originally done in the 1950s but the ’70s take proved to be hugely popular with cinema-goers and critics alike.
The plot follows a health inspector who finds humans are being replaced by alien clones completely devoid of emotion. It also boasts a pretty impressive cast, including Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy and an incredibly young Jeff Goldblum.
Solider-for-hire ‘Dutch’ takes on a deadly invisible enemy in the Central American jungle, in a story as old as cinema itself.
There’s a reason why Predator sits alongside Terminator as one of Arnie’s finest film outings, and that’s the creeping tension which breaks up the scenes of all-out gun blazing action. A perfect partner for your Alien celebrations, considering that the two franchises eventually crossed into the same world.
Additional contributions by Mark Butler