- The original Alien movie from 1979 is considered the strongest in the franchise due to its simplicity and iconic tagline.
- Aliens, released in 1986, is a divisive film among fans as it shifted the franchise from horror to action.
- Prometheus (2012) offers a high-concept look at the origins of the Xenomorph but lacks the classic creature.
Alien started as a horror sci-fi movie that quickly spiralled into a massive franchise, spanning comics, books, games, and, of course, movies. If there’s something truly horrific about the Alien movies, it is the way they’ve been slowly deteriorating with each new entry in the franchise. Here, we list every Alien movie released so far, starting with the best and ending with the most awful films in the franchise.
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1. Alien (1979)
You simply can’t beat the classics. The first Alien movie in the franchise is, without a doubt, the strongest one of the bunch – and it might be because of its unapologetic simplicity. From the moment you read the movie’s tagline (“In space no one can hear you scream”), you pretty much get everything the movie’s about.
Sigourney Weaver stars as Ellen Ripley, and this is the first time she’d have to face off against the dreaded Xenomorph. A classic horror flick, the original Alien movie is just as good today as it was back when it was released.
2. Aliens (1986)
Despite being loved by critics and standing out as one of the best action movies ever made, Aliens has proved to be a divisive film among fans of the franchise. While it successfully turned Alien into a franchise, it managed to rid the series of its darker horror aesthetic.
Directed by James Cameron and starring Sigourney Weaver once again as Ripley, the film continues the story of Ripley fifty-seven years after the events of the first movie. After being trapped in cryosleep for the better part of six decades, Ripley must now reluctantly work with the shady Weyland-Yutani Corporation and face off against her alien archenemy.
3. Prometheus (2012)
Ridley Scott’s attempt at resurrecting the Alien movie franchise offers an intriguing look at how Scott has matured as a director over the years. Prometheus is a much more high-concept movie than the first Alien film and aims to clarify the origins of the Xenomorph.
Prometheus stars Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw. On a mission to discover the origins of humanity, the crew of an intergalactic exploration unit finds way more than they were hoping to.
Don’t expect to see much of the classic Xenomorph in this film, though. The iconic black creature isn’t anywhere to be seen during most of the movie’s runtime, so we can only recommend this one to die-hard sci-fi fans.
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4. Alien: Covenant (2017)
As a continuation of Prometheus, Alien: Covenant delivers very little in the way of straight answers to the previous film’s mysteries. As a modern take on the classic Alien horror movie formula, however, this film absolutely nails the look and tone.
This Alien movie is the closest we’ve gotten to a true successor to the original film’s style. While the plot is a bit weak at parts, most of the action and horror sequences work amazingly well.
5. Alien: Resurrection (1997)
One of the oddest movies in the franchise so far, Alien: Resurrection, is weird in every way for a horror film. 200 years after Ripley’s death, she’s brought back to life as a clone with all her memories intact, with the small caveat that she’s now a human/alien hybrid.
Featuring one of the spookiest Xenomorphs in the franchise, this Alien movie stands as one of the most unique in the series. It was certainly a breath of fresh air after the disappointing Alien 3 – which just so happens to be occupying the next entry on our list.
6. Alien 3 (1992)
Speaking of disappointing movies, 1992’s Alien 3 failed to capture the momentum set by Aliens or the atmosphere established by Alien. The result is a messy movie with a couple of memorable moments sprinkled in between.
A controversial part of this film is the way it resolved the stories of Ripley and the survivors from the previous Alien movie. Some fans weren’t keen on the idea of simply killing off Ripley, much less the grim fates the director envisioned for Newt and Hicks.
All that said, Alien 3 gave fans one of the most iconic images in the franchise: Ripley being pinned down by a xenomorph who slowly begins to reveal its second set of jaws. The scene has been referenced and parodied endlessly, and has become synonymous with the series as a whole.
7. Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
The dream of every horror movie fan has always been to see a proper confrontation between Aliens and Predators. Sadly, they didn’t get that with 2004’s Alien Vs. Predator. The first warning sign is that the movie is a PG-13 affair; that means no ripping off spinal cords or violent chest-bursting explosions can be shown.
Violence aside, the plot is as weak as it gets: the story is mostly just an excuse to see two classic characters duking it out. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, this flick is loud, dumb, and ultimately unforgivably boring.
Perhaps some fights were never meant to be seen. The good news is that this film didn’t get a sequel… Until three years later, that is.
8. Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem is unquestionably the worst film in the franchise. Paul W.S. Anderson didn’t return as the director for this sequel, and the task was assigned to Colin and Greg Strause instead.
Despite ramping up the violence, Requiem still fails to capture what’s present in some of the best Alien movies. The idea of xenomorphs terrorizing a small American town sounds promising, but it’s held back by this movie’s atrocious cinematography and lousy editing.
Requiem seemingly killed the idea of seeing these two iconic beasts fighting on the big screen for good, at least until someone decides that it’s time to milk these franchises once again. However, we must keep in mind that both franchises are now under the control of the almighty Disney, so only time will tell just how good (or how irredeemably terrible) future Alien movies are going to be.
Who knows? Maybe the idea of a crossover with the MCU might not be as far as it once was. Let’s not forget that Peter Parker’s knowledge of the Alien movie franchise is what saved him and Tony Stark in Avengers: Infinity War. It might just be a matter of time until we see a xenomorph riding along with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Interesting Alien Movie Facts
- Sigourney Weaver’s audition for Ripley was just 3 seconds long.
When Sigourney Weaver attended the audition for the role of Ripley in Alien, she was advised by friends not to wear heels and dress conservatively so as to not intimidate Ridley Scott with her physique. As expected, Weaver completely ignored the advice and instead, put on some hot pants and a pair of thigh-high 3-inch heel leather boots and went for the audition. Ridley Scott took one glance at her and gave her the job. Weaver commented on this by saying, “He loved it. I think he was quite impressed, really.”
- The Newborn in Alien: Resurrection originally had a penis and a vagina.
According to a documentary about the production of Alien: Resurrection, the Xenomorph-human hybrid, aka The Newborn, seen at the climax of the film, was originally meant to have a penis and a vagina. During the design process, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet insisted that it should have both genitalia. Thankfully, Jeunet saw it and changed his mind. He famously added, “Even for a Frenchman, it’s too much.” The team was then forced to use CGI to remove the genitals.
- The original Xenomorph in Alien was played by an unknown actor they found in a bar.
6-foot-10 Nigerian student Bolaji Badejo originally played the Xenomorph in the first film. The production crew met the actor in a bar and was drawn to him because of his size and long limbs. Even though this was the only film he ever starred in, Badejo took the part quite seriously and even went for Tai Chi lessons to help with crafting the creature’s movements.
- Ripley was supposed to die in the original ending of Alien.
In the first treatment for the Alien film, Ellen Ripley’s head gets ripped off by the Xenomorph. Fox intervened and ordered Scott to change it. Thankfully, he complied. As a result, we have had a franchise of good films… and bad ones.
- The Xenomorphs have a Queen Mother.
The Alien comic books and novels describe various Xenomorph creatures, including the most powerful, the Queen Mother. She is incredibly large, seven hundred feet tall and has psychic abilities. They are protected by Palatines – enlarged, elite Drones. The first Queen Mother was kidnapped by Ellen Ripley, leading to anarchy and chaos in the Hive world.
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