13 Terrifying Alien Abduction Movies
Article By: Tony Timpone
According to a National Geographic survey, 77 percent of all Americans think aliens have visited Earth. Surprising, huh? No wonder movies and TV shows featuring evil extraterrestrials invading our planet (and, more intimately, our homes) continue to entice willing moviegoers on a regular basis—they believe this stuff! Today, Chiller presents 13 Alien Abduction Movies—of the Scariest Kind! (Titles arranged according to year of release.)
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
At the spectacular conclusion of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss gets all dewy eyed as he’s whisked away in the mothership of benevolent aliens. But in the movie’s opening reels, writer/director Steven Spielberg went for more of a sense of terror than a sense of wonder as those same extraterrestrials terrorize and traumatize a single mom in Indiana by stealing her 3-year old son in the middle of the night! What’s up with that? One minute the visitors are scaring the crap out of us, and next we’re (literally) making music together! As he did with Jaws and Jurassic Park, Spielberg knows how to frighten us, and some of Close Encounters’ most powerful moments are the ones that have us hiding under our seats.
2. Communion (1989)
No one does weird better than Christopher Walken, and his character’s otherworldly experiences in Communion certainly bring the weird out. The actor plays Whitley Strieber, the real-life horror author who turned his reputed alien abductions (and anal probes—ouch!) into a series of books which spawned this low-budget adaptation by schlock director Phillipe Mora (Howling II-III). But besides Walken doing his trademark Walken, the Oscar winner comes across as very sympathetic as a man trying to keep his sanity and family together in the face of unexplained phenomenon. Communion’s cheesy FX disappoint, but Walken never does.
3. Fire in the Sky (1993)
Unlike Communion, the visuals in this major-studio release never fail to thrill and chill. Also reportedly based on a true story, Fire in the Sky follows Arizona logger Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) and his drinking buddies, whose nighttime excursion in the woods gets interrupted by a UFO. Walton disappears in a beam of light and authorities accuse his friends of foul play. Five days later, the stunned, nude Walton staggers back into town, and we slowly learn of the horrifying experimentation he endured at the hands of his celestial kidnappers. E.T., go home!
4. Progeny (1998)
Re-Animator’s creative brain trust of Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna (the latter as director, with Gordon supplying the story and exec producing this time) reteamed for this alien abduction flick that sports plenty of B-movie zest. The randy intruders interrupt a private love-making session between a doctor (The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo) and his gorgeous wife (an excellent Jillian McWhirter), zapping him and impregnating her. Progeny knows what the fans want, so a plethora of squiggly creatures FX (supervised by future Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante), gory gags and a few familiar genre stars (Cocoon’s Wilford Brimley and Child’s Play’s Brad Dourif) parade across the screen. There’s a baby on board…and it ain’t human!
5. Altered (2006)
Payback’s a bitch. Seven years after they had been snatched by malevolent entities, three survivors capture an alien in the nighttime woods and hold it hostage in a fellow abductee’s house. The hillbilly trio wants to give their toothsome prisoner a taste of its own medicine, until internal squabbles and girlfriend troubles lead to the creature escaping and picking off the men. With Altered, director Eduardo Sanchez (co-creator of The Blair Witch Project) delivers a gruesome low-budget monster movie with buckets of entrails (human and nonhuman), solid jolts and a number of neat twists.
6. The Fourth Kind (2009)
This faux documentary takes the alien abduction story into Blair Witch Project/Paranormal Activity territory by mixing in “actual” and reenactment footage in a patchwork fashion. Resident Evil’s Milla Jovovich (finally allowed to stretch as an actress here) toplines as a psychologist investigating a rash of disappearances in Nome, Alaska. To add validity to the scenario, throughout the film director Olatunde Osunsanmi (try saying that five times) drops in interviews with the real shrink who Jovovich portrays, as well as allegedly authentic audio, visual and victim/witness testimonials. The veracity of all this remains highly suspect, but The Fourth Kind emerges as compelling and creepy nonetheless. Plus it’s fun to see Will Patton as the sheriff; the actor has faced other non-terrestrial threats in The Puppet Masters, The Mothman Prophecies and TV’s Falling Skies.
7. Predators (2010)
A group of sweaty badasses (a soldier, mercenary, Yakuza, drug lord and…Topher Grace?!) play a most dangerous game when plucked from Earth and deposited on another world to become the jungle prey of those tenacious alien hunters. Desperado/Spy Kids creator Robert Rodriguez took over the franchise with this sequel as producer, and passed the directorial baton to Nimród (Vacancy) Antal. This fresh Predators team provides some pulpy fanboy spunk to the stagnant series, creating cool new looks for the creatures, including the awesome Berzerker Predator. Movies like this don’t win Oscars, but The Artist doesn’t feature 7-foot tall monsters ripping men’s spines out their backs either.
8. Super 8 (2011)
Like Altered (see above), it’s the alien who’s being seized in the nostalgic Super 8. While out shooting an amateur movie, a gang of kids stumble on the beginning of a mystery that involves government spooks chasing a humongous alien monster (resembling a distant relative of the critter from Cloverfield). The fearsome fugitive holds some of the locals prisoner in its underground lair, but ultimately the young heroes help the big E.T. break out. In Super 8, future Star Trek/Star Wars revival director J.J. Abrams heavily channels childhood hero Spielberg (who produced this homage for him!), and it shows in every frame. You’ll find a lot of super things in Super 8, especially its fantastic train wreck sequence where the space monster flees, those appealing pipsqueaks and the late ’70s setting.
9. Dark Skies (2013)
We’ve seen a flood of alien abduction thrillers just in the last two years (see below), and this one’s the best of the pack. A married couple (Josh Hamilton and Keri Russell) and their two young sons become victims of escalating late night disturbances in their home, scaring the bejesus out of everyone. Signs soon point to something not of this world. The troubled parents turn to a quirky UFO expert (J.K. Simmons), who informs them that the Greys most likely will steal one of their boys away. Writer/director Scott Stewart (executive producer of Syfy’s Dominion) effectively depicts a family coming apart at the seams in Dark Skies and ends this truly scary thriller on an unusually somber note.
10. Almost Human (2013)
Watching this gross-out movie will remind you of one of your old sleepovers with your favorite childhood buds. You pop in a beat-up VHS from the local Blockbuster, and a movie just like the reverential Almost Human begins! When his best friend Mark (Josh Ethier) disappears late one night in a blinding blue light, witness Seth (Graham Skipper) becomes a suspect. Then an alien-possessed Mark unexpectedly returns three years later, hellbent on some otherworldly mischief and slaughtering anyone who gets in his way. The amount of story writer/director Joe Begos comes up with here barely sustains Almost Human’s 80 minutes, but he knows how to make the ideal midnight movie in a style that echoes the trash classics of yore.
11. The Signal (2014)
Three college kids (among them, The Giver’s Brenton Thwaites and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke) head to the desert to track down the signal of a hacker who got them expelled. However, the road ahead includes sharp turns into Twilight Zone-style bizarreness, government conspiracies and a final surprise twist that will make you question everything that came before. It would be unfair to give away the ending of this sci-fi puzzler, but the fact that The Signal’s included on this list should give you an idea of where the surreal story’s headed.
12. Honeymoon (2014)
Researchers state that 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce in the first few years, though the unlucky couple in this slow-burn sleeper will want to call their lawyers before the honeymoon’s even over. New husband and wife Paul and Bea (Penny Dreadful’s Harry Treadaway and Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) go to a secluded lake cabin post-wedding. One night, Bea wanders into the woods and comes back…changed. Or at least Paul thinks so. Could some Lovecraftian malevolence be lurking in the waters or (more likely) could those strange midnight lights have lead to a little extraterrestrial body snatching? First-time director Leigh Janiak’s refreshing feminist perspective overcomes any potentially hoary genre material here, making the shuddery Honeymoon a worthwhile trip to the altar.
13. Extraterrestrial (2014)
Unlike the cuddly star of that similarly-titled Spielberg blockbuster, you won’t want to play dress-up with the aliens in this screamfest. For starters, the movie’s written by a duo who calls themselves the Vicious Brothers, so you know where this one’s headed. In Extraterrestrial, they assemble all the tropes of the alien abduction saga (kids stranded in the woods, nasty nighttime attacks, government cover-ups, painful rectal probes) and dial it up to 11. This slick grindhouse throwback also boasts cameos by Ginger Snaps’ Emily Perkins and Scanners’ Michael Ironside, plus a downer ending that makes Night of the Living Dead’s infamous coda seem sunny and cheerful by comparison.
From TV, 1975’s well-acted The UFO Incident detailed the first major abduction case, while Syfy’s Taken miniseries (2002) covered the topic with the added largesse of executive producer Steven Spielberg as a guiding force. The long-running (and soon returning) The X-Files (1993-2002) featured two heroes, Mulder and Scully, in search of all things extraterrestrial and conspiratorial. Tell us what’s alien you over at our Facebook page or Twitter using #Friday13.
Tony Timpone helped program November’s 14th Annual New York City Horror Film Festival.