When you welcome horror novices to the genre, what movies are the first to hit your list of recommendations? If your scary movie beginner was, say, from another planet, you would start with the basics. In a world where aliens came in peace we would certainly treat them like our friends and suggest the best of the best! From the second they touch down on Earth, aliens are exposed to a whole new world filled with exciting surprises untouched by pesky spoilers. They are uninhibited by organic commentary that accompanies great films over time and get to experience all cinematic wonder for the first time. Really, the hard part is where to start them off.
Horror is a tremendous genre made up of major categories and subgenres and, yes, even subsidiary genres of those subgenres. What we like to refer to as “staple films” can be difficult to agree upon as the variety continues to expand, but there can be a majority consensus on a selected few that welcome outsiders to the place of terror and fear. Generalization seems to be key when it comes to determining which horror film niches appeal to the uneducated and the same rule applies to our otherworldly martian tourists. We all have our favorites that we love to share, but the following 10 Horror Movies Aliens Should See covers a great deal of horror subjects from supernatural monsters to human emotion. As proud fans, we’ll gladly pause for our newfound friends’ reactions to each of these definitively great films.
10. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Welcome to the twist ending, friends! Any newcomer to the genre has to experience the thrill of the twist. There is no better initiation than the infamous and ominous slow burn thriller, The Sixth Sense. Imagine experiencing this for the first time with no prior knowledge or suggestive hint as to how it all ends? M. Night Shyamalan’s (Split) debut horror-drama digs itself deep into feelings of grief and loneliness, relevant to any outsider, especially those from another planet altogether. This one should keep them guessing until the end and beyond.
9. Jaws (1975)
Welcome to planet earth, space beings! A prime creature feature is a novel necessity when it comes to staple horror films that should be seen out of sheer convention. Why not introduce our new Earth tourists to a real threat that physically swims our oceans and preys on actual flesh? Jaws is a simple adventure filled with action and heart, not to mention some of the most impressive (accidental) shark production in cinema as a whole. Invoking tradition and nostalgia, Steven Spielberg’s (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) summertime ode to the great monsters of the deep is a great way to expose those from above to the dangerous beings that lurk within the middle.
8. Poltergeist (1982)
Welcome to the paranormal, extraterrestrials! If aliens are beaming themselves down here in search of answers, we might have a few for them. One being, do they believe in ghosts? Do aliens even have ghosts? One of the genre’s major forms of terror, the haunted spirit, comes to life in abundance throughout Tobe Hooper’s (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) suburban horror, Poltergeist. It’s a great intro to some imaginative special effects in film and questions the afterlife with both poise and earnest family connection. Alien beings should see this to know what they’re up against when it comes to typical earthling frights.
7. Halloween (1978)
Welcome to the slasher subgenre, spacelings! Horror is incomplete without the bloody good gore of the slasher subgenre. The turning point of such an important category (not the first, just the turning point) is none other than John Carpenter’s (The Thing) Halloween. From the distinguished score to the distinctive villain, this slasher screams Horror 101 and should help determine an alien’s taste in film pretty easily. Transforming moving parts into iconic pieces of film and defining a movement that continues to inspire today, this is one everyone should see whether they have two eyes, one eye, no eyes, or a hundred of them.
6. Scream (1996)
Welcome to modern horror, martians! Modern horror is really an unfixed milestone, but if a single film represents contemporary tropes and conventions, current audiences of all generations will point to Wes Craven’s (A Nightmare on Elm Street) meta-horror, Scream. This film rewrote the rules of the genre and came up with a few of its own, making it one appealing narrative. It’s fun, hip, clever, and fresh, all the factors that make up courageous content as it paved the way for horror tropes that are still currently being explored. Combining humor, wit, mystery, and gore in appropriate amounts, extraterrestrials should enjoy themselves just as much as today’s viewers still do. Don’t warn them about that cold open or spoil the red herrings!
5. The Exorcist (1973)
Welcome to demonic possession, newcomers! There’s no doubt that The Exorcist is cinematic possession in its meanest form. Invite alien folks to the realm of religious horror with this journey through demonic forces as one powerful foe pushes itself upon the innocent in William Friedkin’s (The French Connection) unforgettable adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s chilling novel. It’s a sensational hit, one that is still placed at the top of most fan’s scariest movies to date. It’s not a matter of should they see it, but more of a necessary experience when it comes to participating in the genre. As humans, we fear the probe of controlling foreign existences ranging from evil to extraterrestrial, maybe our alien friends will too?
4. Hereditary (2018)
Welcome to horror-drama, cadets! There is plenty of arthouse horror for the picking, but if we want to educate otherworldly beings on what new wave horror is really about and what they should see to keep with the times, Ari Aster’s (Midsommar) deeply dark and depressing debut drama is a safe suggestion to start with. Crafted with incredible authenticity, Hereditary infiltrated horror lovers of all kinds and even hyped up “film hype” as we know it. It’s an excruciating exercise in cult activity and human emotion, so if any aliens are looking to analyze extensive layers of emotion they won’t need to look much further than the talent involved. We can only hope they believe the hype too.
3. Frankenstein (1931)
Welcome to movie monsters, universal beings! Recommending horror’s staple films is impossible to do without including at least one classic monster movie, if not all of them. I selected Frankenstein as Frankenstein’s Monster is quintessential horror incarnate that should resonate with fans on some level or another. Delving into origins of the unnatural and the human obsession with playing God might amuse beings of a higher intelligence, but James Whale’s (The Invisible Man) adaptation of Mary Shelley’s immortal novel is a must-see for anyone, alive, reanimated, or beamed from above.
2. The Shining (1980)
Welcome to cinema, recruits! It might be in poor taste to ask our alien guests if they can confirm whether or not the moon landing occurred or if Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange) filmed it on a soundstage. In the effort of good taste, we can guide them toward his masterclass haunted house adaptation, The Shining. It’s a director-driven masterpiece that externalizes our innermost fears complete with precision and style in front of and behind the camera. One family’s torment in a spooky old hotel has turned into a legendary, untouchable class of horror all its own. Being practically horror royalty, all aliens should see it even if just to introduce them to the literary works of the great Stephen King.
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Welcome to the undead, newbies! Zombie flicks run the gamut of undead films, being reproduced and recycled by the hundreds time and time again. One that holds its own in originality and nuance is that of George A. Romero’s (Dawn of the Dead) polarizing Night of The Living Dead. Subjecting alien viewers to human survival, defeat, and isolation might be traumatizing or it might entice them to trap and invade our puny masses. Whatever the case may be, it’s one heck of an introduction to the long list of zombie movies that aliens should see whether they agree with the plaguing of Earth or not.
As much as I’d like to believe this list represents a general expanse of horror films that aliens should see as we welcome them to our region of the universe, it really does not even begin to scratch the surface. The continuous growth of our genre is one of the many factors that makes it so worthy of sharing with others. Recommendations are always difficult to gauge, especially when your services are solicited from beings via UFOs. However, spreading the goodwill of our favorites and necessities with others is really what our culture is all about, isn’t it? If not, there’s some effective algorithms out there designed to pinpoint some recommendations based on their every move. That might really scare them.
Which of your favorite horror movies would you recommend to welcome alien visitors? Which of these “staple films” should aliens see? Which would you add? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!