This weekend, the aliens are invading again.

It’s not just that Independence Day: Resurgence is a follow-up to Roland Emmerich’s 1996 original; just think about how many times Earth has stood at the center of a war between humanity and unknowable enemies from somewhere else in the galaxy (or even the universe). It’s something that has happened over and over again in the long history of cinema—and each time, if it’s done well, we end up loving it.

There are essays and sociological studies to be written about just why we keep falling for the same story over and over again, but while someone else is working on that, here’s something more fun: a fleet of 10 classic alien invasion movies you should watch to prepare for this weekend’s Resurgence.

One of the first “alien invasion” movies and still one of the best, Day flips the script and shows the one time that aliens came to Earth claiming to come in peace and really meant it—not that humanity can wrap its head around the concept. Ignore the Keanu Reeves remake from a few years back: this version, with Michael Rennie as Klaatu and the amazing Bernard Hermann score, is by far the best.
Available on Netflix, Amazon Prime

On the other hand, the remake of another 1950s sci-fi classic is the one to go for. Fueled by 1970s paranoia and a handful of creepy performances from Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy amongst others, this feels less like a movie about aliens from another planet as a warning about the untrustworthiness of those around you in politically charged times…

Chances are, if you remember this mid-80s sci-fi horror movie from Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper, you remember it because Mathilda May spends the majority of the movie naked, sucking the life out of humans as part of an invasion force by some space vampires. But there’s actually a very fun movie to be found here, as you might expect from co-writer Dan O'Bannon, the man behind Alien.

THEY LIVE (1988)
There was a point when John Carpenter’s sci-fi action movie felt like a funny satire of the times. Now, it feels weirdly, scarily on-point and perhaps a little too close to home for comfort, with a ruling class manipulating the masses to become consumers and accept the status quo as told to subliminally by the media. Let’s just file under “ahead of its time, but we wish it wasn’t,” then.
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Emmerich’s original ID4 was a wonderfully stupid, enjoyably bracing update on the classic movie formula, going for the heart in more ways than one. Sure, we can cynically complain about the obviousness of blowing up landmarks and appealing to patriotism in the basest way possible, but there’s no denying that they are tactics that work—this is a great alien invasion movie to watch, even before you get to Jeff Goldblum saving the day in the silliest way possible.
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And in the same summer than Emmerich upped the bar on alien invasion movies, Tim Burton threw the bar out the window with this nutty, messy parody of the tropes that isn’t the movie that it thinks it is—it’s not that smart, nor even that funny — but remains a fascinating, and impressively watchable, lesson on why something like Independence Day needed to be made in the first place.
Available on Amazon Prime

If every generation gets the Body Snatchers that it needs, then the 1990s kids were lucky as hell to get The Faculty, an effortlessly entertaining rehash of Invasion that throws in the political and social hell that is high school, and makes you wish that you were half as cool when you were that age. (Note: This is almost certainly the movie that gave you that crush on Clea Duvall that you’ve had for most of your life.)
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Congratulations, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg—even though you updated and changed a lot from the classic H.G. Wells novel, this somehow remains one of best screen versions of what it likely the most well-known alien invasion story of them all. Let’s credit Morgan Freeman with the win. He is, after all, the voice that explains it all via an unexpected omniscient narrator.
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In recent years, indie movies have taken an alternate route to the whole alien invasion idea with much success. Gareth Edwards—whose Godzilla impressed Lucasfilm enough for them to bring him on to this winter’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story—gives us an invasion by extra-terrestrial bacteria in this movie, which has infected an area of Earth and made it into something literally out of this world. Which’d be fine if our hero didn’t have to enter the area in order to rescue the daughter of his boss.
Available on Netflix, available to buy on Amazon

And talking of movies with Star Wars connections, Finn himself, actor John Boyega, is just one of the stars of his hyper-kinetic, funny and smart movie in which aliens attack a council block in London, only to find out that there were far easier targets to choose if they wanted to wage war. It’s very much the opposite of The Day The Earth Stood Still, but in its own way, it’s just as optimistic about the future of humanity…
Available to buy on Amazon