A Survey of Aliens in Cinema History

Almost as long as there have been movies, there have been alien movies. Whether they’re zapping intruders on a moon romp, abducting helpless teenagers, terrorizing the planet, or simply visiting, extraterrestrials have been a prominent force on both the silver and television screen throughout the history of both mediums. But though the possibilities of imagined space creatures are endless — from sassy moon babes with ring skirts to gelatinous blobs with teeth — the paths of alien design follow distinct trends in film history.

This week sci-fi alien invasion movie Skyline, the latest from the Brothers Strause, opens in theaters. In honor of its contribution to the annals of aliens in film, we consider the limits of designing Martians, Mooninites, and Sun People — and look at the history of alien movies — after the jump.

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon),  1902

“A Voyage to the Moon” is the first science fiction film, running just 14 minutes. In it, a group of intrepid astronomers meet the Selenites — aliens that look as much like chimpanzees in masks as they do humans, hopping awkwardly from rock to rock. The jumpsuit and mask combination is one that would quickly become a trope of sci-fi movies, as space men began to look just like us, only shinier, and with much poorer posture.