Ridley Scott’s 1979 science fiction horror classic Alien was the most iconic movie ever, Alien‘s directorial verve and that dynamic cast (Sigourney Weaver, Yaphet Koto, John Hurt, Ian Holm and others) giving life to the script, it was artist H.R. Giger’s animalistic humanoid xenomorph design and the phallic, dripping world the species calls home that really struck a chord with audiences.
There were tons of shameless Alien rip-offs running wild in the ’80s, all of them crass and many of them – when viewed today – wonderful and tastelessly charming attempts at carny versions of the house that Ridley Scott built.
We have 9 movies here which can be described as the worst Alien rip-offs.
Italian exploitation classic directed by Luigi Cozzi (under his nom de plume Lewis Coates) about a plague of pulsing, acid-filled alien eggs erupting and causing their victims to explode. Said eggs are being laid by a Giger-esque cyclops monster with a vaginal mouth and a flashlight for an eye. Tons of gore and silliness, with Zombie star Ian McCulloch looking appropriately confused. Released in the U.S. as Alien Contamination to explicitly tie-in to the the Scott hit. Great Goblin score too.
British trash filmmaker Norman J. Warren helmed this Alien clone (though he swears he never saw Alien) and while not one of Warren’s best, it sure is trashy. A group of scientists exploring a distant planet’s cave systems come across a giant xenomorph who proceeds to rape crew member Judy Geeson. Totally tasteless but what else would you expect with that title?
One of the most interesting post-Alien riffs, this bizarre, almost Freudian take on the story was produced and co-directed by Roger Corman, who used some leftover footage from his space opera Battle Beyond the Stars to pad the film out. The cast is filled with cult icons, including Sid Haig, Zalman King and Robert Englund, but its greatest moment comes during the “maggot rape” scene, in which Taaffe O’Connell is sexually assaulted by a tentacled worm that she has dreamed up. Shades of Zulawski’s Possession, which was released that same year.
Roger Corman’s other notorious Alien quote isn’t as wild as Galaxy of Terror but it has a great monster and a killer score by Susan Justin. In it, scientists on a deserted planet manufacture an alien in a lab and it gets loose and kills many.
Charles Band exploited the new wave of 3D popularity and the box office success of both Mad Max and Mad Max 2 as well as, of course, Alien for this surreal shocker. Stan Winston’s toothy slugs erupt out of stomachs and heads and generally make life hell for a bunch of toughs and the scientist who accidentally invented the nasty blood-sucking beasts. Moody Richard Band score too.
William Malone’s lively Alien clone (filmed and briefly released as Titan Find) boasts great production design and decent special FX as well as an hilarious cameo by German madman Klaus Kinski. In it, astronauts run afoul of the titular alien monster and much blood, madness and mayhem ensues. Well directed by the ever-underrated Malone and tons of fun.
No-budget indie effort was released as Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn to cash-in on the craze. And while plot-wise the film has little to do with Alien (more structurally kin to Night of the Living Dead, actually), the monsters themselves are razor-toothed sisters to Giger’s iconic creature. Wickedly inventive gore effects elevate this scrappy sort-of classic
Indie horror auteur Fred Olen Ray (Scalps) made this romp early on, shot in the busted and abandoned sets from the Klaus Kinski flick Android and featuring Ray’s young son in the pint-sized bio-mechanical alien suit. Absolutely wonderful and totally awful trash with a sad appearance by ailing Hollywood actor Aldo Ray.
Okay, so it’s not an Alien riip-off, it’s an homage and a parody but it’s the last word in ’80s Alien riffs. At the tail end of Mel Brooks’ hilarious Star Wars parody, he goes for broke and gets actor John Hurt to re-enact the famous chest-burster sequence, though this time the baby xenomorph dons a top hat and cane and launches into “Ragtime Gal”, the old-timey favorite best known to be sung by a frog in a classic Looney Toons short.