We all know that J.J. Abrams loves his mysteries and so far the biggest mystery surrounding his new alien invasion movie Super 8 -- apart from how jealous Dakota Fanning is that her baby sister Elle is working with folks like J.J. and Sofia Coppola while she's stuck in yet another Twilight movie -- is what the extra-terrestrial looks like. Abrams has played this game of "hide the alien monster" before, most notably in the 2008 Godzilla riff Cloverfield, which he produced. In that film, after spending the entire movie running away -- or, more often, dumbly running towards -- the unseen beastie, the remaining survivors at last come face to face with the creature and... it's about as scary as that big red Rambaldi ball from Alias. Here's hoping Abrams learned his lesson with Super 8 and devoted more time to designing a monstrous creature that's actually, y'know, monstrous. Moviegoers will find out for themselves this week, but in the meantime, here's a look back at previous alien invaders and whether they passed the fear test when we finally see them in all their horrible glory.
From: Alien Technically, our first glimpse of this H.R. Geiger-designed nightmare -- which, fun fact, is sometimes referred to as a xenomorph -- comes early on in Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic, when an infant alien bursts out of some poor guy's gut. But the fully-grown version is the one that everyone remembers and its climactic entrance is perhaps the highest point in a movie full of high points. It's no surprise that Ellen Ripley stands there frozen in fear -- we'd be looking for a space toilet too.
Worth the Wait? Absolutely, 100 percent. This is the gold standard that all alien monsters should aspire to.
Arnold Schwarzenegger went up against some tough opponents during his career as an action star -- Thulsa Doom, the T-1000, a classroom full of overstimulated kindergarteners -- but none were as vicious (or as ugly) as this intergalactic hunter from a distant planet. After spending most of the movie in camouflage mode, the Predator uncloaks just in time to face Ahnuld in man-on-alien combat. And that's when we get to see those teeth! Those eyes! Those dreads! It's a shame that Arnold has to cheat to win, but let's face it -- even at his most ripped, the Austrian Oak would be cut down by the Predator's wrath.
Worth the Wait? While it's true that years of sub-par sequels have diluted the character's menace (although last year's Predators was a fun romp), the moment when he takes off his mask is still chilling 25 years later.
From: Pitch Black
To paraphrase Ellen Ripley's kid sidekick in Aliens, the creatures in this contemporary sci-fi favorite (starring Vin Diesel before he exclusively made movies about car thieves) mostly come out at night... mostly. Crash-landing on a remote planet, a crew of strangers is picked off one by one by the nocturnal bioraptors. Since most of the movie takes place in -- duh -- pitch black (all the better to hide the limited effects budget), we never get a really good look at what's attacking our anti-heroes until the remaining few are about to get the hell off that godforsaken rock.
Worth the Wait? Honestly, the bioraptors are scarier off-camera than on, so it's a good thing the movie is called Pitch Black.
Unnamed Water-Phobic Alien Race
The big surprise twist in M. Night Shyamalan's fifth feature is how cheesy and lame the big surprise twist is. So these H20-intolerant aliens -- who turn out to resemble humans covered in green algae -- decide to invade Earth -- a planet that's 70 percent ocean? Even worse, one of them decides to waste its time haunting a farmer and his family in the Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania? Frankly, they all deserve to have Joaquin Phoenix whack them upside the head with a baseball bat.
Worth the Wait? Remind us why Shyamalan was supposed to be the next Spielberg again?
From: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The second Fantastic Four movie is a crime against both nature and comic book fans for many reasons, but perhaps none more so than the way it completely botches one of Marvel's greatest villains: the world-devourer known as Galactus. In place of the enormous giant that attacks Earth in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's classic three-part story arc from the '60s, we got... a cloud. A freakin' cloud. No wonder the next Fantastic Four movie will reportedly be a reboot -- they need a second chance to do this character right.
Worth the Wait? Hell no. Somewhere Kirby is planning to unleash Darkseid on the makers of this misbegotten movie.
Read why this is JJ's most personal movie yet in this interview with the director.
Will Super 8 reaffirm JJ's status as the king of appropriating childhood joys and making them even more potent than remembered? Omar G and Pablo G discuss in this video:
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