A number of 1950s sci-fi and horror films fell into the alien invasion sub-genre, producing some of the most popular releases of the decade. Most of them became blockbuster hits and are now regarded as motion picture classics. Many of these iconic works also spanned sequels and remakes.
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951)
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is one of the decade's pioneering sci-fi flicks, effectively making campy horror work as a quality genre offering. Its story revolves around the appearance of an alien dignitary and his powerful robot, who come to Earth during the Cold War era just after the end of World War II. This extraterrestrial visitor's mission is to understand the reasons for human conflicts and warn the people about an impending destruction that may come their way.
Set at a period of violence, nuclear confrontation, and international hostility, this film's plea for world peace still resonates beyond its time. Its thoughtful and restrained direction, performances, and production values bring out the story's social messages without becoming preachy. This timeless genre piece was remade into the 2008 movie also bearing the title "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
"The War of the Worlds" (1953)
"The War of the Worlds" is the film adaptation of H.G. Wells's futuristic novel about an army from Mars taking control of the Earth. Although technically dated, its simple story still retains the unnerving power of the classic tale, even after many decades. The movie's imaginative exposition allows it to carry its own form of novelty, just like the source material.
This masterpiece reflects the ideology of the 1950s while also showcasing brilliant special effects. The film is a lavishly mounted and visually stunning work with engaging B-movie sensibilities. With its cinematic, cultural, and historical values, this Oscar-winning classic was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. It was also remade as the 2005 movie "War of the Worlds," which centers on a family's struggle to survive mankind's battle against an alien invasion.
"Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" (1956)
Another movie reflecting the decade's social issues, the alien B-movie "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" delves into the landing of flying saucers in an American army base, which soon leads to the Earth's destruction. The story begins with a space creature contacting Earth with the intent to talk to world leaders and invade the planet without panicking the human population. The world's last hope from the hostilities brought by the aliens comes from an anti-magnetic weapon developed by a scientist. This suspense-filled sci-fi piece about enslaving the inhabitants of the world is notable for the iconic flying saucers from stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen.
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956)
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" follows the story of a man who attempts to tell the world that aliens have arrive, the extraterrestrials soon overtaking human life. However, he is merely seen as a mentally disturbed freak. Soon, people are getting replaced by emotionless alien duplicates while asleep. As these doppelgangers plague a small California town, a local doctor tries to stop this slow and creepy extraterrestrial invasion.
This classic offering adapted from the Jack Finney novel "The Body Snatchers" was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. It also received two remakes: a 1978 film titled "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and the 2007 film "The Invasion." Both works followed the basic plot from the original material.
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