First of all let me say that this was by far the most fun list I’ve ever written. I’m a big fan of sci-fi and creature features so compiling a list of the worst movie aliens was equally tough and exciting – because there’s a plethora to choose from and a whole lot to write. But because of the expanse of cheap-looking spaceballs that exist in cinema I’ve actually decided not to rank in order of how bad they are, but in an entirely random, out-of-a-hat kind of order. In fact, that’s a bit of a lie. I have saved the worst for last….
Mac, Wiploc and Zeebo from Earth Girls Are Easy (Julien Temple, 1988)
This none-more-80s alien rom-com stars Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans (an odd and uncomfortable mix) as Mac, Wiploc and Zeebo, brightly coloured fur-balls that land in Geena Davis’ California swimming pool. It’s a rare case of the aliens being more shocked by us than we are them – the culture wave of big hair and cheesy pop choruses is surely stranger than anything from their planet? The aliens themselves are utterly useless – like braindead cushions in a helmet they soon allow themselves to be shaved and taken out on the town by Geena Davis, where they soon learn that meeting women in clubs can be a retro good time. It turns out they’re quite the attractive charmers too, as this stale comedy unfurls. About as far away from The X-Files as you can get, this lot eventually find happiness with earthlings – and Davis and Goldblum’s extraterrestrial snuggling puts a depressingly unforgettable slant on The Fly (1986) forever.
Max Rebo from Return Of The Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983)
Seriously Lucas? Seriously? Probably the oddest slice of trivia about the final two installments in Lucas’ original trilogy is that his co-writer was Lawrence Kasdan, Oscar-nominated writer of The Big Chill (1983). Yet when you look at the film you find even more oddities – not least Jabba’s musical entertainer, Max Rebo. Like a cross between Babar The Elephant and a Na’vi, some find him endearingly cute but for me he’s just creepy. Jar Jar may be the most annoying Star Wars character, but he plays a vital part in Revenge Of The Sith (2005) and provides some kind of narrative arc. Rebo just looks plain dumb and although he’s not on screen for long, his pointless appearance is unforgettably embarrassing, as he bops around like a character from some CBBC show. What were they thinking? Not very much, clearly.
Howard from Howard The Duck (Willard Huyck, 1986)
Which idiot had the idea to put this on the big screen? George Lucas? Yep, makes sense. And who did he get to direct? The guy who made Messiah Of Evil (1973)? Fantastic! Actually, although it has some camp value and the wonderful Lea Thompson Howard The Duck is a largely useless cult oddity that crosses a few barriers that should never be crossed – inter-species sex anyone? Yep, that’s right, there’s actually a scene where a giant duck from space tries to get it on with Marty McFly’s mom. It’s more disturbing than Cannibal Holocaust (1980). More than anything though this is yet another case of an alien subverting expectation in the most boring way possible. If they’re not going to invade they should at least be interesting. This talking toilet duck plays plays guitar. “Not bad for a duck from outer space” he says, after foot-stomping and jamming through a track like Mick Jagger. Yeah, I lost sleep as well…
The Bug Aliens from Alien Apocalypse (Josh Becker, 2005)
I know, I know – Bruce Campbell adds value to anything. In fact, although the production values are in the gutter and the budget is as existent as the plot, Campbell actually makes this awful sci-fi flick highly watchable and adds some dryly sarcastic entertainment value. More than anything it’s the design of the creatures that’s so lame and uninspired – they just look like giant garden bugs. They have government, hierarchy and weaponry but they don’t really pose any more intelligence or threat than your average grasshopper, and the CGI is truly terrible. They have somehow enslaved the human race (presumably while we were sleeping) and now have us on some kind of harvesting operation. They’re really cringe-worthy opponents for the man who once conquered the Book Of The Dead and it doesn’t help that they walk like they’re in a Monty Python sketch. Just humiliating.
Jake the Cat from The Cat From Outer Space (Norman Tokar, 1978)
It’s a cat. I’m not even joking. It’s about a UFO that crash lands while being piloted by a cat with a mysterious alien collar. A cat. Enough said? I’d hoped so, so here are the two taglines for your amusement: ‘Mysterious Visitor With Unknown Powers On Our Planet For Supplies… A Six-Pack Of Tuna?’ and ‘A Close Encounter Of The Furred Kind.’ Among the stupider films I’ve ever seen, it’s the sort of film that Brett Ratner would remake with a CGI cat, a $250,000,000 budget and Jennifer Love Hewitt as a crass love interest… and that’s scary. Because he made Rush Hour 3 (2007). Oh, and for those of you who have scraped the Disney barrel, this is worse than The Barefoot Executive (1971). And that’s about a monkey who helps Kurt Russell pick successful Network TV shows. There is no God…
Ro-Man from Robot Monster (Phil Tucker, 1953)
We should really forgive it given that it’s 58 years old, but it even looked dated then so lets rip the hell out of it. I don’t even know what this thing is, there’s no way in the English language to actually describe it. If Ro-Man were in the dictionary, he’d need a picture. Essentially it’s an extraordinarily tall man wearing a gorilla suit with a divers helmet on – oh, and there are antenna sticking out of that for no good reason. It literally looks like someone took the leftover costumes and props from every other sci-fi/horror movie from the 30s – 50s and cobbled them together into one utterly rubbish and unscary monster. But it’s also a terribly produced piece of cinema. Whoever green-lit a script which has the lines: “You’re so bossy you oughta be milked before you come home at night” and “You look like a pooped out pinwheel” ought to be shot.
The Killer Klowns from Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Stephen Chiodo, 1988)
I know this one has a kind of cult following too but lets face it – Killer Klowns, outside of the concept and some neat makeup effects, is pretty awful. The story is about aliens from outer space who invade a small town and start killing the folk who live there. Their particular way of dispatch (a milkshake process that also involves cotton candy tombs which look like penises) isn’t taken seriously, as they pitch up in a circus tent and are dressed as clowns. Really absurd clowns too – lumbering jokers plastered in makeup with over-expressive smiles and a penchant for murder. Overall though they’re really unthreatening – we already have clowns here on earth and they scare little kids just as much as these idiots, who provoke more laughter than scares. Director Chiodo went on to be head puppet supervisor on Team America: World Police (2004). Which is much more terrifying.
Station from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Peter Hewitt, 1991)
It looks like Gizmo gained 100lbm, grew a beard and took happy pills as this hysterical alien is basically a fluffy version of Bill & Ted themselves – a braindead but happy lumbering moron. He starts off pretty entertaining but ends up as pretty forced comic relief in a film that’s already a comedy, which is… odd. By the time he finds a purpose and morphs into one big monster (looking more like something out of NeverEnding Story, 1984) it’s hard to care about his sudden day-saving inventions and tinkering. Again, he’s not in the least alien-like, more fantastical in the blandest way possible. More than anything he’s just ugly – I think the real point of having him in the film was to make soft toys and the like to sell to a young market. But when he looks like a failed lab experiment that’s been in the ring with Muhammad Ali, merchandising likely took a hit. Just awful…
Humaliens from Morons From Outer Space (Mike Hodges, 1985)
Another of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, it’s hard to believe this drastically unfunny flop was directed by the same man who made Get Carter (1971), a seminal gangster classic currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. It’s meant to be some kind of satire but with cheap innuendo, sight-gags and boring set-ups it falls flat on its face at every turn. One of the aliens is even called Bernard (played by Mel Smith), which should give you an indication to the tone of the piece. These pratfalling plonkers are more like visitors from Barnsley than space and with no attempt to mask accents it’s quite possible that they are. In fact, there’s nothing ‘extra’ about these extraterrestrials – they’re lacking in almost every department, seemingly existing in a BBC1 sitcom rather than sci-fi flick. Aliens? More like couch potatoes.
1. Mac from Mac & Me (Stewart Raffill, 1988)
There are very few aliens as awful as Mac. Hell, there are very few things in the world as awful as Mac, the grating little bastard who rips off E.T. at every visible turn and still manages to fit in one huge corporate advert for McDonald’s – nope, we haven’t forgotten that vomit-inducing impromptu dance sequence that sees Mac dressed up as a giant teddy bear, busting moves on the counter of your local fast food establishment. He’s always creepily naked too, and looks like some kind of underground rat creature – albeit with a face that looks like he’s just had 100 botox injections at once. The wide-eyed moron attempts to be cute and even has the balls to save a kid who lost control of his wheelchair and went tumbling down a cliff to almost certain doom. It’s another embarrassing moment in a film that will give you nightmares for all the wrong reasons. Avoid it like you would an invasion!