World UFO Day: 11 alien movies that are out of this world

Bill Pullman in "Independence Day." Image: 20th Century Studios. 

It’s World UFO Day! And for movie lovers, that means only one thing – it’s time to have a close encounter of the film kind. 

We’ve compiled a list of 11 of our favorite movies about little green men, space invaders, body snatchers, benevolent Kryptonians, and carnivorous plants. Some are very scary. Some are action-packed. One is a Disney movie! But they’re all guaranteed to entertain… or at least to make you look up at the sky.

And we’ll also tell you where you can stream each flick. Here’s a hint: A few of them can be streamed for free on Tubi. 

One final note, just so the truth is out there: We’ve omitted some of the most obvious choices, such as "Alien," "The Thing," "Aliens," "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Alien vs. Predator,"  "District 9," "Super 8," the "Cloverfield" franchise, and all three – yes, three – Steven Spielberg masterpieces about extraterrestrials. A list of the very best alien movies would undoubtedly include all these and more, but we wanted to give you a chance to explore some uncharted territory. You know, just like an alien might explore Earth.

Grab your tinfoil hats and read on. 

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Attack the Block (2011), streaming on Max

Before he traveled to a galaxy far, far away in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," John Boyega unleashed otherworldly levels of charm on an unsuspecting public in the raucous sci-fi horror comedy "Attack the Block," which comes from the producers of "Shaun of the Dead." It’s Guy Fawkes night in a council estate in South London, and a gang of teenagers is up to no good. But all their ne’er-do-well activities go out the window when a meteor comes crashing down, bringing with it some truly terrifying aliens. Boyega stars with Jodie Whittaker, who recently ended her run as the Doctor in "Doctor Who," so both of this movie’s leads had big sci-fi franchises in their futures. Rated R. 88 minutes.

Watch Jodie Whittaker in "Broadchurch," streaming free on Tubi. 

The Endless (2017), streaming free on Tubi

Directing duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead specialize in lo-fi, high-concept indie sci-fi. And "The Endless," about two brothers who return to the UFO cult compound where they grew up after receiving a mysterious VHS tape in the mail, may be their finest film to date. It’s a well-conceived and ingeniously shot mindbender of a movie, incorporating mystery spots, time loops and unseen energies that defy the laws of physics into a story where you actually care about the characters as well as the uncanny forces shaping their fates. Rated TV-MA. 111 minutes. 

"The Endless" is streaming free on Tubi.

Slither (2006), available to rent from Apple TV and Prime Video

James Gunn’s 2006 dark horror comedy has become a cult classic in the years since its premiere — not bad for a guy making his directorial debut. As you might expect from a movie about sentient alien larvae, it gets pretty gross, but that’s all part of the fun. "The Suicide Squad" cast members Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion and Sean Gunn (the director’s brother and frequent collaborator) star alongside Elizabeth Banks and Gregg Henry, but the real stars of the show are the ones that do the slithering. Rated R. 95 minutes.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), streaming free on Tubi

The late Donald Sutherland stars alongside Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and the iconic Leonard Nimoy in this remake of the classic 1956 film of the same name. And while that first film is a sci-fi touchstone, this is one remake that’s every bit as good! Sutherland plays a health inspector who finds himself as one of the last lines of defense against an alien entity that’s murdering and replacing human beings with perfect physical clones and perfectly monstrous intent. It’s sometimes funny, often creepy and downright thrilling. Rated PG. 114 minutes.

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is streaming free on Tubi.

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Lilo & Stitch (2002), streaming on Disney+

Not all aliens are out to get us! Some just cause a little chaos and give a lot of love. Following in the grand tradition of "E.T.," this somewhat lesser-known Disney classic is a marvel of 2D animation, as warm, funny and surprising as anything to come from the House of Mouse in the last three decades. It’s even got a great song! But we’re not here to talk about "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride," we’re here to talk about aliens – and Stitch, who is something of a roller coaster ride all by himself, is one of cinema’s best. Rated PG. 121 minutes.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986), available to rent from Apple TV and Prime Video

How many sci-fi horror comedy movie musicals are there? More than you’d think – but this one’s the best of the bunch by a mile. Muppet royalty Frank Oz directs this irresistible adaptation of the famous stage musical, which is itself an adaptation of the 1960 film "The Little Shop of Horrors" (which features a pre-fame Jack Nicholson!). Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene star as the star-crossed lovers Seymour and Audrey, Steve Martin gyrates through several unforgettable scenes as a masochistic, Elvis-haired dentist, and Audrey II – the extraterrestrial, sentient carnivorous plant that supplies most of the little shop’s horrors – practically leaps off the screen thanks to puppet magic and the voice of Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops. It’s as iconic as a movie about a nebbish plant store clerk and a mean green mother from outer space can possibly be. Rated PG-13. 96 minutes. 

The original "Little Shop of Horrors" is streaming free on Tubi.

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Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014), available to rent from Apple TV and Prime Video

There are few things more satisfying than a well-executed time-loop story. But when the time-loop in question sees Tom Cruise at his Tom Cruisiest getting blown up over and over again? Well, that’s a surefire winner. Cruise stars opposite Emily Blunt in this surprisingly funny (and unsurprisingly action-packed) sci-fi thriller, in which our hero – a smug military public relations officer unexpectedly thrust into combat – dies a lot. Like, so much. Rated PG-13. 113 minutes.

Nope (2022), streaming on Starz

It may not have garnered the same level of attention and acclaim that "Get Out" did, but Jordan Peele’s third film is every bit as smart and surprising as his first. Reuniting with "Get Out" star Daniel Kaluuya, "Nope" follows the Haywood siblings (Kaluuya and the inimitable Keke Palmer), who are attempting to keep the family business – Hollywood horse-wrangling – afloat. When the opportunity to capture evidence of a UFO arises, one of them is determined to make it happen. The other, not so much. The scene in which the wary Otis Haywood (Kaluuya) lets the film’s title slip past his lips is one of the best surprises in any movie in the last decade. Rated R. 126 minutes.

Superman (1978) and Superman II (1981), streaming on Max

What? He’s an alien! It counts! Rated PG. 143 minutes. 

You can stream more stories about the Man of Steel for free on Tubi.

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Independence Day (1996), streaming on Hulu

This story was originally published in the first week of July 2024, so how could we not include this movie? The "Welcome to Earth" flick is a classic summer blockbuster, but this crowd-pleasing juggernaut also racked up a lot of critical success – including an Oscar. It’s true! Rolan Emmerich’s film picked up a statuette for Best Visual Effects (a well-deserved win – this movie still looks great, nearly 30 years later). Still, in our hearts, we’re always going to believe it won the Oscar for "Best Inspiring Speech from a Fictional President," too. Congrats, Bill Pullman! Rated PG-13. 144 minutes. 

Watch "Independence Day" star Jeff Goldblum battle some sharp-toothed earthlings in "Jurassic Park," streaming free on Tubi.

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