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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Hollywood is being invaded by ... alien invader movies

July 28, 2010 |  6:18 pm

Tri_star I guess I'm a total failure as a movie geek, since until I read this revealing post from Libertas Film Magazine's own quasi-geek Jason Apuzzo, it seems to have entirely escaped me that we are entering a bizarre new golden age of alien invader movies. Perhaps spurred by the success of "Cloverfield" and "District 9," perhaps spurred by the fact that all of the development execs in Hollywood read the same scripts or, hey, perhaps spurred by sheer inexplicable coincidence, we are about to be overrun with way, way too many movies about nasty extraterrestrials showing up on someone's doorstep.

The current lineup includes Jon Favreau's "Cowboys & Aliens," due out next summer from Universal, which features space invaders landing in Old West Arizona; "Battle: Los Angeles," a thriller due next March from Sony, which depicts U.S. Marines fighting off an alien invasion (very loosely based on an actual World War II episode); "Skyline," an indie-produced alien invasion thriller due out this November from Universal; and "Super 8," a 1970s-era aliens unleashed thriller from J.J. Abrams that goes into production later this year.

And, oh yes, there's also "Falling Skies," a Steven Spielberg-produced TNT miniseries due out in 2011, about more bad guys attacking us from outer space. Plus, Paramount just bought an alien abduction pitch for a low-budget thriller to be produced by Michael Bay. I wonder if it would be too much to ask if Bay agreed to be abducted by real aliens, ya know, just to see if all the story beats really paid off?

This sudden obsession with alien invaders has me wondering: Why now? Trends usually happen for a reason, even if it isn't always clear at the time what that reason might be. There were a host of similar alien invader films in the early-mid 1950s (my personal favorite being "The Thing"), which film historians theorize were inspired by fears of the U.S. being invaded, either physically or ideologically, by communism. If you get two film professors together and let 'em watch the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," they'll argue over the hidden meanings of the film for weeks on end.

But what's up with all these new films? What new hidden fear do we have that is being sublimated into our movies? Glenn Beck, for one, seems almost grotesquely overwhelmed by fears of all sorts of hidden conspiracies, but I doubt that whatever is bugging him is the same thing that's bugging this generation of filmmakers. Could the collapse of the economy have spooked so many Americans that it's created an intense level of fear and unrest that is being channeled into film projects? And, of course, there's always the possibility (WOO-HOO) that there really are a few aliens poking around, looking to abduct a few of us. I guess anything's possible.

If you have a theory, I'm eager to hear it. Until we get this figured out, I think I may be sleeping with a night light, just in case.

Photo: Sharlto Copley in a scene from the sci-fi thriller "District 9." Credit: TriStar Pictures 

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