The best alien invasion movies
But the best adaptation, if again not faithful, is probably George Pal’s 1953 interpretation of the tale. Gone is the “man in the street” narrator, fumbling for survival while a government and incompetent military repeatedly fail to realize the threat they face. This War of the Worlds sees heroic, square-jawed scientific geniuses allied with blunt military savvy in a global coalition against invasion (although the USSR is strangely absent from this global fight against the Red Planet).
Steampunk tripods are replaced by some really weird ray-shaped floating contraptions, which still look impressive even today. And while germs are always the downfall of the Martians, the lurgy only really kicks in when they dare to attack a church, once again lending credence to a cosmic vision where God basically hates all planets but this one.
8. Await Further Instructions (2018)
One of the best subgenres of alien invasion, and indeed sci-fi horror stories as a whole, is “the doctor didn’t show up.” Stories that have plotlines that would fill 45 minutes of Saturday morning teatime TV on BBC One, except instead of a mysterious stranger in a blue box showing up and magically saving the day at the last second, everything goes horribly, terribly wrong.
Wait for further instructions fills this memoir beautifully. It was released in 2018, although it must be said that this writer’s experience of the film was further enhanced by watching it during the Christmas holidays in 2020. In the film, a couple goes to visit their family for the holiday season – an unhappy, controlling, racist family. Then, after spending the night, they wake up to find that all the doors and windows are covered and sealed in an impenetrable material. The only information from the outside world comes in the form of cryptic, counter-intuitive, and even downright dangerous instructions broadcast through the television.
It sounds like something Russel T. Davies might have written on one of his darkest, most cynical afternoons, and it’s all too easy to imagine a version of this story where the Doctor (I imagine Capaldi, but Tennant or Whittaker would just work that way) is also trapped in the house and gives an eleventh-hour speech about family and humanity that manages to turn everything upside down. But the Doctor does not appear in this story (apart from William Hartnell’s former replacement, David Bradley in a very undoctor role).
One thing this film also offers is a pretty compelling answer to the question, “Why, if you were able to travel to an alien world, would you launch an invasion rather than live in your massive space habitats or terraform your own world?” ” The threat in this film wants neither resources, nor forced labor, nor territory. He wants something that only intelligent life can provide. He wants love.