Hollywood’s most unlikely alien-invasion heroes


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Alien invaders have had their way with Earth throughout cinema history, but in most cases, our planet’s inhabitants have eventually found a way to fight them off — sometimes in unexpected ways and with very unlikely heroes.

This weekend, “The Watch” pits a ragtag group of Neighborhood Watch volunteers against the first wave of an alien invasion, and the new comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade adds yet another line to the ever-growing list of Earth’s most unexpected defenders.

In honor of the latest group of heroes to stand between planetary freedom and destruction at the claws — or perhaps tentacles — of outer-space creatures, here are some of our favorite unlikely alien-fighters to appear on the big screen:

Slim Whitman (“Mars Attacks”)

In this 1996 film directed by Tim Burton, the world was on the brink of surrender to a race of big-brained, evil aliens who had destroyed the world’s greatest landmarks, killed the U.S. President, and exterminated Congress. The planet was theirs for the taking, until a teenager in Kansas discovered their one weakness: country singer Slim Whitman’s yodel-fueled classic, “Indian Love Call.”

A bunch of British street kids (“Attack the Block”)

Joe Cornish impressed audiences and critics alike with this 2011 film about a bunch of street kids in South London who are forced to defend their turf from terrifying alien creatures that fall to Earth on Bonfire Night. There’s no shortage of films featuring musclebound heroes shooting up aliens with machine guns, but there’s nothing quite like seeing this film’s reluctant heroes take down these vicious interlopers with fireworks, baseball bats, and even a gasoline-filled squirtgun. (Best line ever: “That ain’t no is — it’s a was!”)

Randy Quaid (“Independence Day”)

When everything seemed lost and the Earth was on the verge of destruction in Roland Emmerich’s 1983 alien-invasion classic, the planet was saved by an alcoholic, semi-sane crop-duster played by Randy Quaid. Not only did he get revenge for all those times aliens abducted and probed him in uncomfortable places (which may or may not have actually happened), but he became the world’s greatest hero when he sacrificed himself in a kamikaze run at the alien mothership. If you don’t cheer when Quaid screams, “Hello boys, I’m baaaack!” there’s a good chance you’re dead inside.

A sketchy high-school drug dealer (“The Faculty”)

When creepy, tentacled, body-snatching aliens invaded Herrington High School in this 1998 film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Robert Rodriguez, it wasn’t the football team or the class president who led the fight against them, it was the creepy drug-dealing kid who’s been in his senior year for at least two years now. It might not send a great message to kids, but the film suggests that a homemade, cocaine-like drug being sold by Josh Hartnett’s character in the film is the key to defeating the parasitic creatures taking over the town — making the best defense against aliens a good stash of illegal amphetamines.

A gigantic woman, a blob, a cockroach, an ape-man, and a giant grub (“Monsters vs. Aliens”)

This underrated 2009 animated film features a team of reluctant “monsters” who agree to defend the world against an alien invader in exchange for their freedom from the government agency hiding them from the world. It could be one of the weirdest team-ups in movie history, but it’s also one of the most entertaining examples of planetary defense to hit the big screen in the last few years. What’s not to love about Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, and Reese Witherspoon hamming it up as the main characters’ voices, with Rainn Wilson providing the voice of the alien Gallaxhar?

Sorority girls (“Night of the Creeps”)

Combining the fear of slimy slug creatures from space with shambling zombie terror, this cult-classic horror from 1986 was directed by “Monster Squad” filmmaker Fred Dekker, and featured a house full of sorority girls fighting off a host of squishy creatures that turn normal people into flesh-hungry, walking corpses. Sure, they have help from tough-as-nails cop Ray Cameron (Tom Atkins) and an aspiring fraternity pledge who’s smitten with one of the girls, but it’s the sorority girls who really save the world. Of course, first they have to actually realize that their fraternity beaus are literally brain-dead.

A girl with a weird water quirk and a failed baseball player (“Signs”)

Sure, director M. Night Shyamalan will tell you that the real hero of his 2002 alien-invasion film was the faith of a retired preacher played by Mel Gibson, but let’s face it: it took a little girl’s weird habit of leaving half-empty glasses of water around the house and a guy with a baseball bat to save the world — or at least, one farmhouse and a family — in this creepy blockbuster. Swing away, indeed.

A homeless Rowdy Roddy Piper wearing late-’80s sunglasses (“They Live”)

Okay, sure… he’s not exactly an unlikely alien fighter given his size and status as one of the most famous professional wrestlers of all time, but his memorable performance in this outstanding 1988 film was anything but predictable. In the film, which was directed by horror legend John Carpenter, Piper plays a homeless drifter who discovers a box of sunglasses that allow him to see the world for what it really is: a place under invasion by ugly, blue-skinned, skeleton-faced aliens who are subliminally forcing humans to buy, procreate, and live by their consumerist directives. He soon decides that the only right thing to do is to chew bubblegum, kick ass, and save the world, of course.

Honorable Mention: Ninjas! (“Alien vs. Ninja”)

Confession: I only included the heroes of this 2010 Japanese film in the list so I could include a clip of one of the most ridiculous fight scenes in cinema history, featuring a lady ninja going up against an “Alien”-ripoff in a rubber suit, who clearly gets a little handsy with his female opponent.

What are some of your favorite unlikely defenders of Earth? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.


Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…


IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.


Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:

Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.


Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.


From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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