From Cloverfield to District 9, Monsters to Skyline - we stand in the midst of the biggest wave of alien invasion movies to hit cinemas in almost sixty years. The trend shows no sign of abating - the likes of Battle Los Angeles and Cowboys and Aliens are due before the end of the year, Area 51, The Darkest Hour and Simon Pegg's Paul follow in 2011.
But what does it all mean? And more importantly, how can you stay safe?
There is nothing more frightening than Googling the phrase 'Alien Invasion’. There are people who believe the world is being run by lizards disguised within human flesh; who have mapped out emergency survival operatives in the event of when an invasion might occur; who have detailed strengths and weaknesses of a variety of alien species – and that’s just my personal blog.
What’s more, there are people who believe Alien Invasion cinema's recent renaissance is in fact an attempt by the world’s governments to prepare us for a mass ‘decloaking’ of extraterrestrials already living among us. Having once been to Scunthorpe, I'm not 100% sure I disagree.
If this is true, cinema has taught us much about how mankind can survive. How we can live on. How we can defeat the invading aliens even. With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a guide for human survival, using what I’ve learned from the cinema and categorized as ten ‘DO’s’ and ‘DON’Ts’. I recommend you print out this page, stick it on your wall, stay alert, stay safe, stay alive. And if you see anyone who looks like a lizard? Kick them in the face. Then run. Run for your life.
DO hide the Lemsip
The British author H.G. Wells intended his 1898 novel The War Of The Worlds as a comment on British Imperialism, a theme which neither made it into the 1953 film adaptation or Steven Spielberg’s big budget take in 2005. What did remain however, is the Martian's aversion to the common cold, which leaves them decimated after a mere day or two ruling Earth. In a world where Beecham's Flu Plus exists, this isn’t really necessary – but shhhh, what they don’t know will kill them, eh?
DON’T put out until you’re married
We’re all been there - or at least we would have been if we hadn’t been at home obsessively watching sci-fi movies (ahem) - 1957’s Invasion Of The Saucer Men starts off innocently-ish with a couple making out in their car on Lover's Lane. Ten minutes later they’ve run over an alien and everything has gone batshit. Throughout this guide, I will reveal to you many extraterrestrial weaknesses. Few will be as lame as an alien race being defeated by the glare of car headlights.
DO leave a glass of water lying around at all times
Why said species of alien would invade a planet that is 70% water is beyond me, but if there’s two things M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs taught us, it’s that 1) his aliens can be killed by contact with liquid and 2) he’s nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is. Next time your flatmate/partner/parent complains about you leaving half-drunk glasses of water around the house? Why not try shouting at them: “LEAVE ME ALONE. I AM TRYING TO AVOID AN ALIEN ATTACK.”
DON’T pick the flowers
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers begins in space, with a race of gelatinous creatures leaving their dying world and falling on plants on Earth, which people then pick and take home. What follows is the gradual obliteration of humanity, as zombie like replicas of humans are grown in plant pods while they sleep, in turn replacing the human they’ve cloned. Replace plant pods with the music of Radiohead, and I think there’s a warning from the stars somewhere in there.
DO be wary of children
While many sci-fi enthusiasts might pump for the creations of H.R. Giger being the most terrifying alien species, the children of 1960’s The Village Of The Damned are no less scary. They come about without warning, all being born on the same day after the women of Midwich village become inexplicably pregnant all at the same time. If that wasn’t frightening enough, they all look a bit like they could play the role of ‘second guitarist in Belle & Sebastian’. Shudder.
DON’T be afraid to get muddy
How does Arnold Schwarzenegger defeat the Predator in the 1987 film? With a bazooka? Or a machine gun? Or a quick game of Slaps? No, he defeats him (no confirmation on whether the alien is a him, but we’ll say it is on account of its rampant machismo) by lying on the ground and rolling around in the mud, thereby masking his body’s heat signature from detection. Much like my prior Signs advice, this makes a great retort for grass stained school children coming in from play and facing an angry parent.
DO get drunk
When Randy Quaid announced he and his wife were on the run from an evil cult of Hollywood “star whackers” the other week, many thought to themselves “oooh, that Randy Quaid is a bit mental isn’t he?” On the evidence of 1996’s Independence Day, where Quaid plays an alcoholic pilot who saves the human race by ploughing his plane straight into the heart of an alien mothership, I say, “really? You think?”
DON’T forget your video camera
I enjoyed Cloverfield more than any other film in 2008, but even I had to concede that it was quite ridiculous that none of the characters, faced with a gigantic extraterrestrial creature striding through New York - not to mention some relentless comment on 9/11 being made via the medium of space crabs - didn’t put the video camera down at least once - even just to, like, have a wee or something. Sheesh. Some people really will do anything to get on You’ve Been Framed.
DO upload Slim Whitman’s version of Indian Love Call to your iPod
Finally something more ridiculous than a species of alien being defeated by car headlights - a species being defeated by Slim Whitman’s version of Indian Love Call. Incidentally, I rewatched Mars Attacks! on a wet Sunday a few months back, probably for the first time since 1996. If you make the same mistake, be prepared for the realization that it’s nowhere near as good a film as you remember it being, not to mention that all the Martians look a little bit like Rio Ferdinand.
DON’T go to sleep. Ever
Nobody who goes to sleep in 2009's The Fourth Kind has a good time, which I guess, is a little bit like most people who had the misfortune to see it (ace faux therapy video footage not withstanding). Another thing, that owl you can see outside your window? It's not an owl. It's a scary alien who's come to mumble an ancient African language to you. Crumbs! Not an ancient African language? Yes! An ancient African language. Christ! I hate ancient African languages! Eeek!