Ridley Scott’s claustrophobic horror classic Alien spawned three sequels, a couple of crossover spinoffs, and now, with Scott’s highly anticipated Prometheus finally in theaters, a prequel.
This story is not about those films. It’s about 5 of their most trailer-trashing, banjo-picking cousins from cinema’s remote backwater, the Alien Rip-off film.
#5 – Alien Contamination (1980)
How it’s like Alien: Astronauts exploring a cave on another world find a bunch of bumpy, slimy alien eggs that glow from within. This leads to exploding chests and a large, drooling monster killing people.
How it’s better than Alien: Eight chestbursters, compared to a lousy one in Ridley Scott’s film.
How it’s worse than Alien: The entirety of the extraterrestrial landscape is a single bad painting. The other 99% of the film takes place in Perth Amboy, NJ, or somewhere that looks like it. And since revered British actors John Hurt and Ian Holm were not available, they hired Ian McCulloch, the unrevered British actor who starred in Dr. Butcher, M.D.
#4 – Horror Planet (1981)
How it’s like Alien: Space travelers visit a horrible planet (probably the one they were talking about in the title) and one of them gives birth to a monster that begins to kill the crew one by one.
How it’s better than Alien: The female crewmember actually gives birth the old-fashioned way. Before you say, “But Baker, exploding chests are better,” I want you to think about a woman giving vaginal birth to a disgusting, drooling monster. It’s kinda gross.
How it’s worse than Alien: Good luck remembering what the hell happens after that. I don’t.
#3 – Creature (1985)
How it’s a lot like Alien: A space crew piloting a corporate-owned ship sets down on Saturn’s moon Titan but is damaged. A creature virtually identical to the one in Alien gets on board and starts killing them one by one.
How it’s better than Alien: The monster’s victims come back to life as vampire/zombies, including a buck-naked one who is still pretty good looking, despite. Creature also features exploding heads (top that, Prometheus) and Klaus Kinski.
How it’s worse than Alien: Klaus Kinski is so fucking creepy that the poor alien is an afterthought.
#2 – Forbidden World (1982)
How it’s like Alien: A multistage life form escapes from a space lab on another planet (the landscape of which looks nothing like a desert in southern California) and attacks some guy’s face. Somewhere along the way it turns into an insect-like beast and starts killing the rest of the inhabitants.
How it’s better than Alien: Spoiler alert. The monster vomits its own guts up at the end after eating cancer. Soooo much cooler than anything Sigourney Weaver has up her sleeve. The borderline soft-core porn nudity helps move things along until we get there.
How it’s worse than Alien: The cute, talking robot sidekick is hilariously out of place. Were they trying to woo the Buck Rogers crowd? Also, no Klaus Kinski. I guess that makes it worse than, Creature, not Alien, though. Honestly, I haven’t thought this whole “list” concept through. Sorry.
#1- Galaxy of Terror (1981)
How it’s like Alien: A spaceship lands on a dark, windy planet and discovers a weird, derelict object of biomechanical design. Inside, untold horrors await.
How it’s better than Alien: This movie has piles of aliens, including a giant slug that makes sweet, sweet love to a buxom blond astronaut. Co-starring Sid Haig of Black Mama, White Mama, Robert England of Freddy Krueger fame, and Erin Moran of Happy Days, that line-up beats anything Alien can boast. Oh yeah, Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High plays a Jedi master/Evil Emperor disguised as a cook, which is totally something Yoda would do.
How it’s worse than Alien: Actually, it’s better than Alien. Didn’t you read the previous paragraph?
Flip through the sideshow slideshow of freaks and creatures from the above films: