Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time 08.02.12: Top 10 Alien And Predator Films

August 2, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.

Last week I slowed things down a bit with a look at what I think are the worst Godzilla series monsters. Here’s what you had to say about that.

Drew replied: Ironic that it’s Godzilla this week, I’m doing a speech on the Godzilla franchise tomorrow for speech class. While not as in-depth as I wished due to time(5-7 Min) I will be covering from the first film to the Legendary film yet to come.

I wish I had been at Comic-Con to see that footage for the new film. My standards aren’t that high for this new movie. Don’t make it like the 1998 Godzilla movie, make it more like Godzilla 1985, and for God’s sake, let Godzilla fight another monster.

Aprince66 said: Man, I remember getting fired up for Ebirah, thinking with those claws, and what looks like really thick armor, Godzilla will have a fight on his hands. Ugh, bitter disappointment.

I don’t know if I ever thought Godzilla vs a giant shrimp was something I wanted to see, even as a kid. The fight went about as quickly as I pictured it would.

LitasRevenge added: LOL. Minilla/Minya reminded me of that old series “Dinosaurs” about the family of dinosaurs. Did anyone else think that, or was that just me? Then you take into consideration if you watch any of the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 shows, and sometimes it’s hard to take some of these movies seriously. There’s another idea… What cheesy MST3K are your favorite??

I do remember Dinosaurs! Minilla does have a striking resemblance to Junior, only not nearly as endearing. Not the mama!

AG Awesome responded: I hope with the big remastering of the Universal Horror films you will cover em!!

Hrmm…maybe you should stick around.

This week, by request, I’m going to rank all of the Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator movies. I know there are some who think the two franchises are not combined, but I say that once you imply they live in the same world, it’s fair game. As far as canon goes, their back stories are intertwined as of Alien vs Predator, making it more than just a one-off meeting (AvP:R is a direct sequel, so it’s sort of the same meeting).

For the three I just talked about in my top sci-fi/horror list, I’m going to comment more on why I have them above or lower than the other entries more than praise the movies themselves. This way I don’t bore you by repeating myself and you know exactly why Alien: Resurrection is the best of the lot (kidding! totally kidding!).

Let’s get right to it with the worst in the series.

#10: Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007)

I was so excited for this sequel, even after the disappointing Alien vs Predator. The trailer looked amazing, I loved the idea of a PredAlien and there was not only an R-rating, but the promise of lots of gore. Now I don’t think a horror movie needs gore to be successful, but I do think a movie with two franchise characters ripping each other part probably needs to be allowed to get a little more violent than a PG-13 will allow.

When the movie centers on the Aliens and Predator fighting, it’s good, dumb entertainment. The gore is solid, as are some of the special effects. The problem is literally everything else you can think of. The script is awful, featuring generic, stereotyped characters that you don’t care about at all. That’d be fine if they were there solely to be cannon fodder, but we actually have to spend time with these people and that hurts the film tremendously. Even the epic fight between the PredAlien and the Predator at the end is shortchanged so we can focus on the humans escaping. You’re forgetting what your customers are paying for! I’d say this is even more disappointing than the first, because this looked like they were going to correct all of the mistakes they made. Not only did they not correct many of the previous mistakes, but they made all new ones.

#9 Alien: Resurrection (1997)

It must be very hard to be a hardcore fan of the Alien mythology. I’m not as into it as some people are, but I do enjoy it. It’s still hard to see bad Alien film after bad Alien film get released when you know that this series is capable of being so much more. The first film was an atmospheric horror film, the second was a balls-to-the-wall action film (with some twists of horror in it) and the third was more introspective, or at least that seemed to be the intent. I’m not sure Alien: Resurrection was intended to be anything more than a cash grab.

There are a lot of conflicting stories about Joss Whedon’s creative control and screenplay, but let’s just call it for what it is: a bad screenplay. There are stupid character decisions, inane dialogue and really bad attempts to take the series in a different direction. How do you have a movie with Sigourney Weaver back as Ripley and a supporting cast that includes both Ron Perlman AND Brad Dourif and somehow manage to mess that up? Some say that Alien 3 is actually the worst in the original series, and I disagree (for reasons I’ll explain soon). This is as bad as it gets.

#8: Alien vs Predator (2004)

In 2003, the horror world finally got to see Freddy and Jason duke it out. A concept that was in development for probably just as long was Alien vs Predator. I was excited the first time I saw the Alien and Predator staring each other down in the trailer. While I can say that Freddy vs Jason gave me everything I wanted, I can’t really say that this time around. I called this a disappointment because it is on nearly every level. The thing is, when I first saw it in a theater, I actually kind of liked it. I knew the PG-13 rating neutered it, but it had Lance Henriksen being great and some nice fight scenes, even if many other aspects left me cold.

A re-watch when it hit home video had me questioning why I ever liked it. The fight scenes were still decent and Lance Henriksen was still great, but the the PG-13 rating REALLY hurt it this time around and it showed the moment the Predators simply hang up a body without skinning it. Again, gore isn’t required most of the time, but for a movie like this, it definitely is. Then there’s the fact the Predator somehow befriends a human (not just showing respect, outright becoming buddies with a human) and they take a sleigh ride together from an awful CG Alien Queen. One day, we’ll get a good battle between these two. Third time’s the charm, right?

#7: Alien 3 (1992)

By now, everyone probably knows about Fox basically taking this film away from David Fincher and forcing him to change what could have been a good sequel. We’ll probably never really know what Fincher’s true Alien 3 looks like. What we got is a often boring mess but it’s not the worst in the series. For one, Sigourney Weaver is still very good as Ripley, and doesn’t nearly ham it up as much as she would in the next film. Secondly, that ending is a perfect way to finish off a strong character like Ripley. That’s the best written scene in the movie, as she goes out on her own terms and still saving countless lives while doing it.

But it is still more bad than good. The death of Newt and Hicks left a bad taste in my mouth, as the decision to just make the story about Ripley seems pointless when they more than proved themselves in the last film. If you are going to kill them off, give them an on-screen death rather than trying to retcon their very existence. The prison planet setting is poor, especially considering marketing had this one taking place on Earth. Lastly, as I mentioned, it’s not really that exciting. The Alien kills aren’t memorable and the pace is very sluggish before that. There are some who say this is the worst, but I think it’s more of a missed opportunity than anything.

#6: Predator 2 (1990)

Predator 2 has a lot of things going for it. The cast is great, featuring Danny Glover, Bill Paxton and Gary Busey (yes, Busey is pretty awesome in this). The change to an urban setting is exactly the kind of thing needed to keep this series fresh and innovative. If Predator 2 had taken place in a jungle again, it would feel like a retread. Honestly, I think if the sequel were made today it would take place in a jungle. Settings help a movie feel new and different.

The absence of Arnold really hurts it, especially since Danny Glover is more of an everyman instead of an “ultimate hunter”, but I think Glover holds his own, even if the finale is a little too silly and unbelievable in the context of the premise. You can’t tell me this species is able to wipe out an entire group of special ops men but one middle-aged cop can take a Predator down. That’s why Predator 2 is merely a good sequel, but not a great follow-up on the original. But it’s still a lot of fun, as is everything else that follows it on this list.

#5: Predators (2010)

This one seems to get forgotten in the grand scheme of things and I have no idea why. Sure, it’s a return to the jungle, but this time it’s different. You don’t kill one Predator and then they go away. You are there for training, and this is their world. Well, probably not their home planet, but they definitely own it. The idea of taking the best and most deadly people on Earth and squaring them off against a group of Predators is amazing, and you have to give credit to Robert Rodriguez for coming up with a great idea.

I really like the concept and I really enjoyed the execution. You’ve got a pretty solid cast here, with Adrien Brody playing the unlikely mercenary rather well, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins, and Laurence Fishburne gleefully hamming it up. Even Topher Grace somehow manages to pull of his role. I even liked the twist that he was a serial killer! You had to figure the Predators wouldn’t just throw a doctor on the planet, that’s not how they operate. This is a fun B-movie that doesn’t try to be anything more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

#4: Prometheus (2012)

I thought about leaving Prometheus out, for the same reasons as last time. I need to watch it again before truly deciding where I’d rank it in this series. I think this is as good of a spot as any right now, although re-watches may have me putting it higher if I love it more with each viewing. I know it’s probably going to get some divisive reactions from the masses, as some people (like me) loved it and some people hated it. As I’m open to intelligent debate with some of you, if you have a solid reason why you didn’t like this movie, please let me know! Most reviews I’ve seen tended to nitpick more than anything else, but I’d love to discuss a movie like this as the reaction seems to be split across the board.

Here’s why I loved it. It’s a return to the moody, atmosphere tone of Alien, for at least a good portion of the movie. I also liked the fact that while there is something of an origin for the xenomorphs, it’s not really about them and mostly focuses on its own story. I loved Michael Fassbender as David and Noomi Rapace as Shaw. The special effects were great and the cinematography was just breathtaking. With the story and so many little easter eggs here and there, this definitely deserves another viewing or two. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about it at the end of the year (hint hint).

#3: Predator (1987)

So why is Predator the best of those films, outside of the fact that it’s the first? It’s a great action movie, it has some nice scares (as scary as seeing a skinless body will be for you, I assume) and it’s probably in the top five of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action films. Arnold vs Predator is one of the best fights in the genre and it is a fight that gets the entire third act of the film devoted to it.

The reason it tops the sequels is just because it’s a great concept that’s executed perfectly. It introduced us to the Predator and fulfilled everything it promises when its set-up. The sequels are good, sure, but they don’t really approach this movie in terms of coolness and action-packed moments. Even Predators, as bigger and badder as it tries to be, still has a few moments that have it fall short. Predator is the standard for that particular series and I suspect it always will be.

#2: Aliens (1986)

As I mentioned previously, there was a time when I would have had this ahead of Alien. I’d like to consider myself smarter and more mature now. I just really love the movie as a whole, for not only having more than one xenomorph, but causing Ripley to grow from a scared but capable survivor girl to a scared but badass survivor woman. The supporting cast is a who’s who of 80s awesomeness: Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn and Jenette Goldstein.

This film also introduces us to the Alien Queen, who is not only bigger than a normal xenomorph, but much more menacing. The final battle between Ripley and the Queen is a great one (much better than the sleigh ride of friendship) and a fitting conclusion for the sequel. If the Alien series had ended here, it would be more fondly remembered than it is now. While the sequels would go on to disappoint, they don’t really hurt what this is: a great follow-up that takes the story in a completely different direction.

#1: Alien (1979)

If you were here when I did my top sci-fi/horror lists you already knew this would be #1. I’m not going to suddenly change my opinion for the sake of shaking things up. Alien is one of my favorite horror films ever, and it’s absolutely the pinnacle of what this series can be. It’s dark, it’s bleak, it’s scary as hell (even after mulitple rewatches). Even the xenomorph has a different feel to it than it appears in the other films. I tried to describe it the last time I mentioned it but I think it’s the fact that it feels more, well, “alien” but at the same time, kind of human that makes it different.

Alien is what this series should have always been, with possibly more exploration into this race and what they are about. In the case of this alien species, an origin and explanation isn’t going to hurt it at all. It won’t make it less scary in the same way we know about spiders and how they work, but we still don’t want to get bit by one (unless it’s radioactive). As for this movie, we don’t need to know anything except that the monster wants to kill off the people one by one in a cramped and dark space station. In space, no one can hear you scream.

That’s it for me. Which of these films is your favorite? How would you rank them? Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, also by fan request, I’m going to look again at some Universal horror, as I rank the top ten films of that era.

Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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Joseph Lee

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