50 Chilling UFO Movies Not For The Faint Of Heart
Movies about aliens, UFOs, and extraterrestrial lifeforms are inherently engrossing. Science fiction allows us to explore ourselves while looking to the stars. In some films outer space is full of wonder and whimsy, but there are just as many sci-fi movies about aliens and their majestic crafts that are absolutely terrifying.
The following movies about alien life and their trips to Earth are full of UFOs of all kinds, from flying saucers to swamp gas, and even a couple of pieces of space debris thrown in for fun. Which is your favorite UFO? Sound off in the comments!
2001: A Space Odyssey
Leave it to Stanley Kubrick to make what is easily the greatest UFO movie of all time. Sure, we're simplifying Kubrick's work, but this story about an alien civilization pushing man into the next phase of existence has to be held up as the pinnacle of the science fiction genre.
How Cool Is The UFO: Very cool! Rather than use the standard flying saucer Kubrick came up with a smooth, onyx monolith. Now that's traveling in style.
Ridley Scott's first foray into the emptiness of space, Alien not only introduced audiences to the concept of male birth via extraterrestrial conception, but it also reminded us that we can never trust an android. Especially when that android has an English accent.
How Cool Is The UFO: By the time we see the unidentified object in Alien it's no longer able to fly, but it's absolutely huge and the pilot seat looks pretty comfy so we're going to give it a thumbs up.
When saucy space adventurer Barbarella is sent to the far reaches of space to find Durand Durand, she runs into all sorts of trouble and super weird creatures.
How Cool Is The UFO: All of the ships in this Roger Vadim cult classic are absolutely superb. Don't you wish you could tool around in one?
The Blob tells the story of a handful of folks in small-town America who band together to stop a creature of indeterminate origin from eating everything in sight before moving on to the rest of the world. Starring Steve McQueen in one of his earliest roles, this is a Cold War era science fiction at its best.
How Cool Is The UFO: In this instance the Blob is technically the UFO. While it's pretty neat that the creature can eat and eat and eat, we don't love the whole destruction of property angle that comes along with this guy.
This Island Earth
When a scientist is invited to a secret collective of the world's greatest thinkers he discovers an insane alien plot to save their planet through mining the smarties of Earth. Things get even weirder when he hops in a big ol' UFO and makes a break for their home world. After seeing this movie you'll never look at foreheads the same way again.
How Cool Is The UFO: Now this is a tricked out flying saucer. It's got everything - tubes, an interoceter, tubes, a big ol' bug-head alien. We need one of these bad boys for the weekends.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
The iconic imagery of Close Encounters leaves a lasting impression viewers, but it's the emotional resonance that makes this film about an obsessive father uncovering the truth about extraterrestrial life a must-watch.
How Cool Is The UFO: Spielberg knows how to hit the audience directly in the feels, be it with an homage to a departed father or just with visual audacity, and the UFO that finally appears at the end of Close Encounters is well worth the wait.
The Creeping Terror
Widely considered to be one of the worst films of all time, The Creeping Terror follows the U.S. military's attempt to stop a giant furry slug alien thing as it gulps down unsuspecting folks in everywhereville U.S.A.
How Cool Is The UFO: The exterior of the UFO isn't anything write home about, but for a low budget production the interior is pretty cool. Is it all dead CRT screens, gauges, knobs, and buttons. The whole thing is beautifully loft.
This darkly comic science fiction film takes place in the 22nd century, a time when mankind is heartily exploring space. Rather than hanging with the crew of the USS Enterprise, we're stuck with the crew of the Dark Star, a scout ship on the hunt for unstable planets.
How Cool Is The UFO: In this case the UFO is what would truly be an unidentified flying object, a crew member surfs a piece of asteroid into the atmosphere of a planet to die as a falling star. What a way to go.
The Day of the Triffids
In The Day of the Triffids a meteor shower blinds much of the Earth's population and spreads mutated triffid plant spores that start murking anyone that gets in the way of their need to grow across the planet.
How Cool Is The UFO: In this instance the UFO is actually a very bright meteor shower, something that's actually been mistaken for a UFO. It may not be as cool as a big tubular ship, but it is kind of accurate.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
An interesting take on the "we come in peace" concept, The Day the Earth Stood Still stars Michael Rennie as Klaatu, a humanoid from beyond the stars who wants to help the Earth ends its obsession with violence. This existential sci-fi film is a must see, and it has a pretty cool space ship floating around in it as well.
How Cool Is The UFO: The ship in this film is a true classic. A silver circular shaped craft with a ramp that extends for easy exit and entrance, does it get any better than that?
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
When an extraterrestrial botanist winds up stranded on Earth, he befriends a precocious young boy and his family who help him "phone home." Pardon us for not describing the movie in detail but if we type anything else about this movie we're not going to be able to stop crying.
How Cool Is The UFO: Steven Spielberg has a knack for cool looking space ships. The craft picking up E.T. after its time on Earth is more of a giant egg than a flying saucer, and its giant spotlights remind us of a Hollywood movie premiere. This ship is certifiably cool.
Escape to Witch Mountain
In Disney's Escape to Witch Mountain brother and sister Tony and Tia learn that their telepathic skills are more than just special powers. That's right, these kids are aliens, and to cap it all off the film ends with a big ol' flying saucer taking the kids away to their new home with a surrogate alien family.
How Cool Is The UFO: It's pretty cool! The craft in this film is your classic flying saucer and we're here for it.
This experimental (i.e. French) animated science fiction film follows a group of humans living on a planet that's populated by giants who routinely cull the population by squashing them.
How Cool Is The UFO: The ships in Fantastic Planet are a veritable cornucopia of designs, from big orbs to classic rocket ships that look like they were pulled directly from the mind of Terry Gilliam.
Fire in the Sky
Based on the unsettling story of Travis Walton, an Arizona forestry worker who was abducted by an unknown entity in 1975. Following his abduction his buddies were charged with murder, but when he returned there were more questions than answers.
How Cool Is The UFO: The UFO isn't so much cool as it is ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING. It's a giant flying saucer, so yikes, but what this film does that's super rare is that it takes the audience inside the saucer where Walton is essentially tortured until the aliens are done with him. It's genuinely upsetting.
This classic science-fiction film is essentially a remake of The Tempest that takes places in the 23rd century, a time when humans are exploring the stars. Aside from the super cool UFO, this film also features the first onscreen appearance of Robbie the Robot. He would later go on to appear in Lost in Space.
How Cool Is The UFO: The space cruiser in this classic sci-fi film is everything you want out of a flying saucer. It's got a big ol' dome, a set of stairs for everyone inside, and a very vibed out blue light whenever it's floating.
The Giant Spider Invasion
Wisconsin's own The Giant Spider Invasion is one of the highest grossing independent films of the 1970s, and with its very low budget it still finds a way to make alien spiders enjoyable. Think Arachnophobia but with more cheese.
How Cool Is The UFO: In this instance the UFO is actually a meteoroid filled with spiders of indeterminate size, so we're going to say NOT COOL.
In Hangar 18 a group of astronauts who had a run in with a UFO are stonewalled from telling their story by the U.S. government. A little goofy and very conspiratorial, this is an all around good time.
How Cool Is The UFO: This ship is wild y'all. It's somehow both a flying saucer and a multi-tiered vacuum Roomba type thing. It's not sleek at all but it's super creative for something made on such a small budget.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been made a few times, but the most well known (and best) version of the film was released in 1978. This version of the story moves the action to San Francisco and captures the quiet terror of realizing that your family, friends, and eventually everyone you know has been replaced by an alien drone.
How Cool Is The UFO: Not so much a UFO as they are spores that travel through space without the need for a propulsion system, it's entirely possible that if we saw these bad boys floating through the sky no one would know what was happening.
It Came from Outer Space
When an amateur astronomer and his fiancée notice a fiery object bearing down through the atmosphere they discover that terror comes from the skies in the arm of a giant one eyed creature. This classic b-movie is a seriously fun time, and it has one of the grossest looking creatures of the decade.
How Cool Is The UFO: The ball of fire holding the alien an incredibly col looking orb thats super loft but incredibly aesthetically pleasing.
The Man Who Fell to Earth
David Bowie plays the otherworldly, tragic hero Thomas Jerome Newton, a humanoid alien who has come to Earth to retrieve water for his drought-stricken home planet.
How Cool Is The UFO: Bowie's ship is pretty darn cool. The exterior is an A-Frame that resembles a honeycomb, and the interior is a room lit by a single, giant orb. We'd live there if we could.
This Tim Burton directed nod to a set of science-fiction themed trading cards released by Topps in 1962 features a star studded cast (Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, etc) who go to war with a race of little green men intent on destroying the planet.
How Cool Is The UFO: The classic flying saucers in Mars Attacks! are absolutely bananas. They're completely metallic, they have a giant ray gun that protrudes from the ship, and metal claw-like landing arms that look like they could take your head off
Night of the Blood Beast
When an astronaut encounters a malfunction in space he crash lands back to Earth, but he's got a passenger. That's right, folks, a blood beast hitched a ride on his ship and he wants to devour everything on Earth. Ain't that the way it always goes? When it comes to a Roger Corman movie, yes.
How Cool Is The UFO: In this case the UFO is actually an American-made space craft that falls from the sky like a meteor, but bigger.
Plan 9 from Outer Space
When Plans 1 to 8 don't work, it's time to pull out Plan 9, baby. That's right. In this Ed Wood directed cheese fest a race of aliens plot to takeover Earth by raising the dead to act as zombie slaves.
How Cool Is The UFO: The pie tins held up by strings look kind of clunky, but they only make this bizarre film even more enjoyable.
Quatermass and the Pit
When a mysterious object (ahem, the UFO) is found buried in the London Underground, Professor Bernard Quatermass is called in to deduce the origins of the craft. This classic Horror Hammer film is brooding, gloomy, and surprisingly engrossing.
How Cool Is The UFO: This is a ship unlike anything else we've seen on this list. The ship itself is a pupae-like craft that's somehow both aerodynamic and not functional at all. We love it. Want it. Give it to us.
This cutting and nihilistic take on the consumerism of the 1980s is both a hilarious look into the underground world of repo men as well as a trenchant critique on modern society, and a low-key UFO movie. If you haven't seen this one you're missing out
How Cool Is The UFO: Chevy Malibus are inherently cool, and the fact that this specific model can glow green and fly through space just makes it even better.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
In 1975, the world was rocked by The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a tribute to the B-movies of the 1950s that follows a young couple whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The only place with a telephone is a castle owned by mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter, hijinks ensue.
How Cool Is The UFO: Adding to the kitsch of this outlandish cult classic is the fact that the alien spaceship doubles as a castle. You can't more extra than that.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
When Martian parents begin to worry that their children are becoming too rigid due to their studies, they kidnap a couple of kids and Santa Claus to bring some fun into the lives of their offspring. Once on Mars Santa is hip to the idea of helping the Martian children, but when extremists from the big red planet try to kill Santa in an act of domestic terrorism he adds them to his naughty list and goes ballistic.
How Cool Is The UFO: It's not so much a UFO as it is a completely insane huge alien spacecraft that looks like someone's rec room that's been mocked up to look like what a spaceship would look like if you were on a budget. It's good kitschy fun.
When the crew aboard a space station orbiting the planet Solaris fall into an existential crisis in this Russian science fiction film Psychologist Kris Kelvin travels to the station to observe and report, but when he falls into the same funk as the rest of the group things go from bad to worse.
How Cool Is The UFO: The space station is pretty amazing. The long, tubular hallways are filled with geometric patterns that are incredibly hypnotic. It's beautiful but we wouldn't want to live there.
This banger from John Carpenter has it all: aliens, political satire, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and a six-minute fight scene. Oh, and some pretty cool sunglasses too.
How Cool Is The UFO: Whether it's due to the low budget or Carpenter's desire to do something different the audience doesn't actually see a UFO. Rather, we get a glimpse at intergalactic travel that's accomplished through some kind of gravitational lens deal.
John Carpenter's The Thing is nearly two hours of claustrophobic terror on an ice base in Antarctica beset by a shapeshifting alien. Starring Kurt Russell as a helicopter pilot just trying to survive the night, this film was a box office disaster that's only grown in stature since its release.
How Cool Is The UFO: Carpenter hits us with the ol' no one can see the UFO yet again. This means that the craft is either very cool and expensive, or that the Thing just travels through space von whatever hunk of rock on which it can hitch a ride.
Pod People is an insane movie. This French-Spanish science fiction film from the early '80s is half horror movie half rip off of E.T. and all around bananas.
How Cool Is The UFO: Less a ship and more of a big glowing red egg that melts to reveal its collection of aliens. It's sort of like a Kinder Egg but, gross.
It Conquered the World
With the help of a bumbling scientist, a Venusian invades Earth and attempts to turn humans into emotionless slaves.
How Cool Is The UFO: As creepy as the Venusian looks the craft is sadly a one out of ten.
Teenagers from Outer Space
A gang of teenage aliens land on Earth and think it's the perfect place to raise their livestock. However, when one of the aliens rebels and flees to a small town, he's followed by another alien who takes out anyone who gets in his way.
How Cool Is The UFO: It honestly looks like a pendant that your aunt would wear. So not cool.
The Human Duplicators
The chilling tale of an alien wrenching control of a laboratory hidden in the basement of a professor's mansion and making robot clones to infiltrate the government.
How Cool Is The UFO: This take on a flying saucer throws out the boring brushed chrome of previous ships and turns the walls into very fancy glass that looks like something from a grandparent's candy dish.
When a total burnout gets ahold of alien technology he somehow becomes even more of a total burnout while wreaking havoc across suburbia.
How Cool Is The UFO: It's a little Millennium Falcon and a little G.I. Joe. This alien craft is the Mercedes Benz of cinematic UFOs, but it's never been more clear that something is a model.
The Quatermass Xperiment
Professor Quatermass is back and he has to stop an astronaut from mutating into an alien organism that threatens to take over the planet.
How Cool Is The UFO: Even though it originated on Earth, the ship is so cool! It's a classic Earth style rocket ship with pointy fins that any kid in love with sci-fi would love to play with.
Track of the Moon Beast
This film follows a mineralogist in New Mexico as he deals with the perils of turning into a humanoid lizard monster whenever the moon rises after he's struck in the head by a meteor during a dig.
How Cool Is The UFO: It's a pretty small meteor, which doesn't exactly scream cool, but it is a realistic depiction of a UFO.
The War of the Worlds
The 1953 adaptation of H.G. Wells' story of a Martian invasion remains one of the most exciting science fiction films of the 1950s. Aliens aside, the film is a technical marvel on all fronts. It's a great way to ease yourself into spooky season.
How Cool Is The UFO: This fantastic take on UFOs reimagines the flying saucer as something that looks closer to a manta ray or another undersea creature. It's genuinely cool.
The Thing from Another World
Directed by Charles Nyby, this 1951 science fiction film follows a group of U.S. Air Force scientists who stumble upon a UFO that crash landed in the ice of the Antarctic. Serving as the basis for John Carpenter's The Thing, this film stands on its own as uniquely horrifying.
How Cool Is The UFO: Pretty cool! It's a giant aerodynamic ship with a variety of fins that separate it from all the other pie pans attached to a string.
The UFO Incident
Based on the Barney and Betty Hill alien abduction case, this film centers on a mixed-race couple who are kidnapped by aliens after returning home from a vacation, only to experience missing time following their experience.
How Cool Is The UFO: Taking the concept of the flying saucer and updating it with some modern (for 1975) touches, this craft is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows on one section. Tres chic!
Communion tells the allegedly true story of the alien abduction of Whitley Strieber (played by Christopher Walken at the top of his game), who was snatched by aliens while on Christmas vacation. Corny, thrilling, and impossible to take your eyes away from, Communion absolutely slaps.
How Cool Is The UFO: For such a wacky movie this UFO is absolutely stunning. It's all metal grates and tubes that snake through the ship for what we assume are nefarious purposes. The exterior is like a pointy egg with a ton of headlight on the outside (space is dark after all). This is definitely one of the cooler ships on this list.
John Carpenter pretty much owns movies about aliens in the 1980s, and Starman is his most family friendly film in his oeuvre. In this film an alien played by Jeff Bridges falls in love with a human woman and goes on the run from the federal government.
How Cool Is The UFO: The observational craft in Starman kind of looks like a metal planchette from a Ouija board with a trackball sitting dead center. It's for the best that we don't see this ship for more than 30 seconds in the film.
Invaders From Mars
When an invader from Mars (hey that's not a bad title) shows up in any town USA and starts turning humans into mindless zombies it's up to a precocious pre-teen and an astronomer to stop the invasion.
How Cool Is The UFO: Another classic flying saucer, this time it's glowing bright blue.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This well known story of an alien invasion via plant spores that fall to Earth and grow into giant seed pods remains one of the most chilling Cold War era science fiction films. If you've only seen the remake you owe it to yourself to check out the original.
How Cool Is The UFO: Okay so the unidentified objects in this movie aren't so much flying as they are just lying on the ground for no reason. Maybe we can call them ULOs - unidentified lying objects. Anyway, the pods are great and very creepy.
The Brain Eaters
It's the 1950s and alien creatures are taking over our brains! Again! The only people standing in the way of an alien invasion are a few senators, some professors, and their wives. It's a miracle that the human race survived this film.
How Cool Is The UFO: It's honestly pretty vague. The UFOs are more of a conceptual thing in The Brain Eaters than they are a real, physical threat.
When Worlds Collide
There's a rogue star on a collision course with Earth and it's up to a group of wealthy humanitarians to save humanity by getting them off the planet in a massive "ark."
How Cool Is The UFO: You know, it's a giant rock that's not visually exciting or anything but it gets the job done. Unfortunately that job is destroying Earth.
In this 1957 Hammer Horror film Professor Bernard Quatermass investigates reports of hundreds of meteorites landing only in the Winnerden Flats area of England. From there he uncovers an extraterrestrial plot that goes straight to the heart of the British government.
How Cool Is The UFO: The ship in this film is a pretty straight forward rocket ship. Filmed in stark black and white with a ton of atmosphere around it, the whole thing is very cool.
This dystopian '70s science fiction film takes place in a matriarchal society where Brutals fight across the wasteland while overloads known as the Eternals live in an idyllic but crumbling society. If you've ever wanted to see Sean Connery in a diaper this is your chance.
How Cool Is The UFO: The flying statue head known as Zardoz that zaps Sean Connery around is absolutely bonkers. Who wouldn't want to ride around in something like that?
The Last Starfighter
When a representative for an alien defense force brings on a teenager who's a whiz at video games to fight in an interstellar war things don't go quite as planned.
How Cool Is The UFO: There are a ton of cool ships in this movie, but Gunstar One is so brutally awesome that want to commandeer it for our weekly trip to the grocery store.
They Came From Beyond Space
When a group of scientists inspect a bunch of meteorites that fell over rural England they discover a race of aliens made from pure energy who want to use human slaves to rebuild their ship. You know, that old story.
How Cool Is The UFO: There are actually two sets of UFOs in this film, the initial meteor shower which is fine, and the ship which has a giant room with a big laser and a star shaped operating table. We're giving this a thumbs up.