The Most Underrated Alien Invasion Movies of the 1970s, Ranked
The ultimate space journey through 1970s cinema.
Here are some of the movies that don't get the credit they deserve.
1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
This film gives you Donald Sutherland as a San Francisco health inspector who notices something's off with the people around him. Gradually, he and his friends figure out that aliens are replacing humans with emotionless duplicates. At first, the change is so subtle it's almost imperceptible. But as more humans are replaced, the horror amps up.
Imagine you're talking to someone you've known for years, and suddenly, their emotional range is flatter than a pancake. Throughout it all, our protagonists trying to stay awake because that's when the aliens get ya – while you're snoozing.
2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Richard Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary, an electrical lineman who has a close encounter with a UFO. Post-encounter, he becomes obsessed with a mountain-like shape and starts sculpting it out of anything he can find, including mashed potatoes at the dinner table. Others around the world experience similar visions and obsessions, and they all end up at Wyoming's Devil's Tower.
The U.S. government pretends it's a nerve gas leak to keep people away, but Roy and a handful of others aren't buying it.
3. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
David Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien who arrives on Earth seeking water for his drought-stricken planet. He patents advanced technology from his home world and becomes a tech mogul. As he starts building a spaceship to transport the water back, things go south.
Alcohol and earthly pleasures get in the way, and his mission starts falling apart. A woman named Mary-Lou introduces him to booze and sex, and soon enough, he's as lost as a GPS with no signal.
4. Phantasm (1979)
After the death of his parents and a family friend, a young boy named Mike starts suspecting something weird is happening at the local mortuary. Tall Man, the mortician, isn't just arranging funerals; he's turning the dead into dwarf-like creatures to be sent to his home planet as slaves. Mike teams up with his older brother Jody and ice cream man Reggie to stop Tall Man's grim plans.
This movie was made on a $300,000 budget but doesn't skimp on the thrills.
5. Starship Invasions (1977)
Aliens from a dying planet called Alpha come to Earth with plans to make it their new home. But first, they need to wipe out humanity using a weapon that causes mass suicides. A second group of aliens, from the planet Beta, wants to stop them. They enlist the help of a UFO investigator and a computer whiz to thwart the Alpha aliens' plans.
It's a race against time as they try to decode alien signals and stop the weapon from being activated.
6. Laserblast (1978)
Billy, a teenager who's been bullied his whole life, discovers an alien laser cannon in the desert. Obviously, he starts blowing stuff up. But it's not all fun and games; an alien pendant he finds with the weapon starts changing him.
Local authorities are baffled by the mysterious explosions, unaware that Billy has gone full-on destructive mode. The aliens who misplaced their laser cannon come back to retrieve it, finding Billy almost entirely transformed.
7. Quatermass and the Pit (1971)
During a London Underground excavation, workers unearth an alien spacecraft. Enter Professor Bernard Quatermass, an expert in rocket science. As they investigate the ship, strange things start happening – like telekinetic powers going haywire and violent, racial memories resurfacing in people.
It turns out the ship is millions of years old, and its insectoid alien pilots are connected to human evolution.
8. Dark Star (1974)
Directed by John Carpenter, this is a low-budget sci-fi comedy that you've got to check out. The crew aboard the scout ship Dark Star is on a 20-year mission to destroy "unstable planets" that could endanger future human colonization.
The crew is bored out of their minds, the ship is falling apart, and their sentient bombs are starting to question the meaning of life. As the crew nears the end of their mission, they have to convince one of these intelligent bombs not to detonate inside the ship.
9. Capricorn One (1977)
Imagine the U.S. government faking a Mars landing. Elliot Gould plays a journalist who begins suspecting the televised mission is a sham. Meanwhile, the astronauts, led by James Brolin, are held in a secret base after being removed from the spacecraft just before launch. They're forced to act out the landing in a studio set-up.
As they realize the extent of the deceit, they decide to escape and expose the truth.
10. The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Directed by Robert Wise, this one takes a more scientific look at what an alien invasion might entail. A U.S. satellite crashes near a small town in Arizona, bringing back with it a deadly alien organism. The organism quickly wipes out the town's population, except for an old man and a baby. Why them? That's the million-dollar question.
A team of scientists is assembled and whisked away to a top-secret underground lab to study the alien germ and find a way to combat it.