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The Most Hideous Aliens In Movie History Ranked

Perhaps, the most terrifying aspect of visitors from another world is imagining what they might look like. Just because life beyond the stars might be sentient — and even hyper intelligent — doesn't mean it would arrive on planet Earth in the form of Superman. We should be so lucky to encounter alien life that looks identical to the human species. The fact is: Life is just as unpredictable out in the deeper parts of the universe as it is here on our own planet. Have you ever seen an anglerfish? If so, it was probably in a book or on a television screen. The murky depths of our planet's oceans are almost as alien to us as billions of distant stars. And an anglerfish looks like something ripped from a horror film.

Cinema has imagined all forms of alien life for us avid moviegoers over the past century. Some have been cute and endearing like the chattering Ewoks from "Return of the Jedi." Others have fallen on the opposite end of the spectrum and are intended to frighten or scare viewers. However, the most memorable aliens are often the most grotesque and hideous creatures practical effects can conjure up. Let's rank some of the most prominent aliens in cinematic history from the least ugly to the most repulsive.

E.T (E.T. the Extra Terrestrial)

Sure, everybody loves the iconic and endearing E.T. But let's not pretend like the little guy isn't an acquired taste visually. Most of E.T.'s loveable qualities come from his personality and his backstory. After all, the poor guy was left behind to fend for himself. Of course, his family didn't intend to ditch him, but ruthless hunters made sure these alien visitors cowered in fear. E.T and his family are only on a mission of peace. In fact, it seems that they intended to study plant life without mingling with the rest of Earthly civilization.

E.T. has a heart of gold. Speaking of hearts, his is one we can all see which is a bit disturbing the first go around. The squatty little creature is full of emotions and he can't exactly hide them. When intrigued or fascinated by something, he stretches out his neck like a giraffe to further inspect the goods. At the end of the day, there is something awfully endearing about the little critter, but he's not exactly an example of a beautiful specimen.

Prawns (District 9)

Neil Blomkamp's "District 9" is, perhaps, one of the strangest alien stories ever told in cinema. The basis of the film is about an alien ship that skirts into the Earth's atmosphere and lands in Johannesburg, South Africa. Upon investigation, aliens are found inside the ship starving and malnourished. The local government comes to an accord where the aliens are allowed to stay, but live in poverty and rough living conditions. This section of the city is labeled as District 9. The aliens are referred to as Prawns — a seemingly derogatory term set forth by humans that likens the species to the crustacean of the same name. By Earth's standards, the aliens aren't exactly pleasing to the eye.

Even though the terminology is meant to be insulting, it also isn't far off from the overall aesthetic of these aliens — they do have a shrimp or prawn-like exterior with a few insect features. By design they're not appealing by any stretch. But they're far from some of the more horrific alien designs that have been seen in movie history. Of course, their very appearance and nature of being space aliens are the basis of the film's primary theme which is a commentary on class, racism, and xenophobia. 

Humans treat the alien life forms as inferior beings. The main character, Wikus (Sharlto Copley), even disparages the species until he starts to transform into one after unwittingly introducing some of their biofuel into his bloodstream. The irony is that Wikus learns the horrors the Prawns have had to endure as he slowly becomes one. Thus, he gains more compassion and humanity as he becomes less human.

Giant cockroach alien (Men in Black)

"Men in Black" is full of hideous extra-terrestrials that could likely find a place on this list. But for the sake of variety, we only selected the most gnarly looking creature in the film franchise. If you disagree with this selection from the film series, then you must ask yourself: What's worse than a giant cockroach capable of wearing human skin? As far as insects go, cockroaches are among the most reviled not only due to their unsanitary nature, but also because they're ridiculously monstrous and hideous.

In the first film, the primary villain is basically a massive cockroach who consumes the innards of human beings and then wears their skins as a disguise. When the "costume" begins to rot and deteriorate, the monstrous vermin finds a new look. The entire prospect is disgusting and hair-raising. Most might think we just described a creature for an R-rated horror flick, but instead, it's the antagonist of a fun, light-hearted and comedic affair featuring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as a pair of secret agents who protect the world from hostile extra-terrestrials. When the massive cockroach shows itself in all of his detestable glory at the end of the film, most viewers probably wondered why the film's heroes didn't bring a giant can of Raid with them.

Brain bug (Starship Troopers)

Let's hope that our future isn't the fate of the world in "Starship Troopers" where we are locked into an interstellar war with alien bugs. "Starship Troopers" is a sci-fi action film that often touches on dark comedy and satire of wartime efforts and propaganda. The film stars a group of young guys and gals who sign up for the fight of their life as they enlist in the military. After seeing what the alien insects are capable of, it's really a fight any sensible person would run far away from. The film is littered with over-the-top violence and gore as mantis-like arachnids hack human soldiers limb from limb.

But there's one bug that's more loathsome than any of the swarms taking down the human military. That is the one specimen dubbed as the "brain bug." In order to combat an intelligent race like the humans, the alien bugs must be smarter than, well, insects. In fact, they know all about our military strategies and capabilities. This is thanks to the brain bug. Whenever the insects manage to take a human alive, they bring him or her to the brain bug where the eight-eyed slug creature plunges a proboscis into their domes like a sippy straw and sucks their brains out. Ah, tastes like sweet, sweet intel. Aside from its nature to suck out brains, the brain bug is a complete abomination by design. The creature has eight eyes that sit just underneath its shell with a vertical mouth that resembles a sphincter. There's absolutely nothing redeemable about this alien.

Harvester aliens (Independence Day)

One of the most famous alien invasion movies of all time might be director Roland Emmerich's epic fight for the human race in "Independence Day." These interstellar beings hail from the darkest reaches of space, and they mean business. In fact, President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) reveals after connecting with one of the alien's consciousnesses that the species are a group of harvesters. They fully intend to reap the natural resources across Earth until everything is used up. Meanwhile, the human race is destined for total annihilation. It's a harrowing scenario that presents only one option for the people of Earth: Fight.

In the film, one alien manages to get itself captured and scientists begin studying and dissecting the creature while it's still alive. It's a horrific bipedal monstrosity with tentacles emerging from its back. Its exterior is actually a bio-exosuit, of sorts, made of living tissue. But the real creature lies beneath the hefty organic armor. The real face of the alien is revealed, and it's a glaring spin on the stereotypes that feature large, solid eyes and expanded cranium. Thankfully, the aliens aren't some completely invincible force and are just as frail as humankind — which means they're susceptible to a simple gunshot wound.

Jabba the Hut (Star Wars)

George Lucas created a world populated by droves of alien races of all kinds. It's truly a smorgasbord. Everywhere you look throughout Tatooine, Hoth, or Coruscant, there are countless alien species intermingling in day-to-day business amid life in a galaxy far, far away. Though, there's really only one alien who totally fits the bill of slimy and grotesque. That would be the shifty and murderous gangster Jabba the Hut. There's nothing more unsightly than a giant slug with an appetite for raw small creatures. And when we say raw, we mean still alive.

Not only is Jabba a gross, slithering blob, his mouth is consistently caked with drool or slobber. Somebody give this guy a napkin. It doesn't help that he is the very definition of scum and villainy spoken of by the Obi-Wan. Jabba might be capable of murder and mayhem, but he's also a slaver which is just as despicable. When any of his slaves falls out of line, he feeds them to a giant Rancor. This alien is truly ugly inside and out.

Killer Klowns (Killer Klowns From Outer Space)

Let's take a stroll down campy horror lane. In the '80s, campy horror was all the rage. Even still, the genre has an enduring fandom that flourishes to this day. One such film in the genre is "Killer Klowns From Outer Space." The movie is exactly as the title sounds. Alien clowns visit Earth in their circus tent spaceship and begin stalking human prey in order to harvest them for sustenance. These clowns were not just ordinary people in make-up. Their features were exaggerated and almost cartoony. But one thing was certain, they were all very devious by design.

Soon, ordinary folks begin learning just how horrific these ugly clowns are as they unleash terror on an unsuspecting town. During their visit, they feed people to rabid, living popcorn, melt security guards with pies to the face, and store teens in cotton candy cocoons they eventually feed off of. It's not quite the good ol' time at the carnival one might imagine. Just don't be mesmerized by any tricks these creepy clowns might show you. It's likely to have a fatal punchline, and you're it.

Xenomorph (Alien)

It would, of course, be a total wonder if the fearsome Xenomorph didn't make it on this list. The popular alien horror icon that originated with Ridley Scott's wild and fantastic take on hostile alien life has become immortalized as a pop culture icon. Mostly, the deadly Xenomorph is known for its slick and vicious design thanks to artist H.R. Giger. The Swiss artist is famous for his biomechanical art work and skyrocketed to fame with the advent of his take on a horrific alien creature.

The Xenormorph is undeniably terrifying. The creature seemingly has no eyes, but a sleek, black dome with snarling sharp teeth. The skeletal exterior of the creature lends itself to the atmosphere of death that it cultivates. This creature may not be hideous in the way that Jabba the hut is, but it will strike a nerve on the back of your spine as a horrific alien that is not to be trifled with. There's a good reason that this creature's debut was a horror film.

The Predator (Predator)

"You're one ugly mother******," Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch utters in the climactic moments of the 1987 film "Predator." I think that's all the endorsement we need to get the famous Yautja on this ranking. The alien hunter has lived on in cinematic infamy receiving his newest film in the form of 2022's "Prey." All iterations of the Predator have remained largely the same, albeit with a few tweaks with each succeeding iteration. While they often cloak to get close to their targets, they also shield their faces with masks that integrate with their technologically advanced arsenal.

It's only after the mask is removed that we see what truly lies beneath, and Dutch said it best. These creatures are all business with sharp mandibles, fierce yellow eyes, and a scaly body with quills protruding in various places around its face (almost like hair, eyebrows, etc.). Every Predator also has extra-sensory appendages that famously look like dreadlocks around the exterior of its head. Over time, these have become adoringly referred to as "Predlocks." Even still, this alien creature truly has the face that only a mother could love. Though, maybe they view us the same way. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Undercover aliens (They Live)

Horror maestro John Carpenter ditches the horror genre in favor of a strange thrill ride in the sci-fi 1988 film, "They Live." The film follows a drifter by the name of Nada (Roddy Piper), who is simply searching for work in Los Angeles. He begins perceiving peculiar oddities amid the urban landscape after taking a job at a construction site. In particular, a preacher and hacker claim otherworldly beings are already here and have blinded us to their exploits using radio signals. Eventually Nada stumbles upon a pair of glasses that nullifies the effects of the signals and allows wearers to see many supposed humans for what they really are, horrifying aliens in average clothing. It turns out the aliens are here to coax us into mindless subservience through rampant commercialism and hypnotic marketing. Simply put, they intend to use Earth's resources for their own gain.

The aliens themselves are really quite repulsive and hard to look at. Their faces are skeletal with piercing, bulging eyes. Really, everything under the sunglasses of truth is quite terrifying. So Nada goes to work and sets out to upset the established order. It's a fun film that comes with a message in its subtext. And that is, of course, a warning against greed, extreme commercialism, and enabling the rich and powerful.

Martians (Mars Attacks!)

In the 1950s and '60s, reports of UFOs ushered in an era of alien myths and legends. "Little green men" would hit the silver screen and exacerbate fears of the unknown among the public. In 1996, Tim Burton took this retro vision of an alien invasion and put it to work in the modern world with "Mars Attacks!" The Martians show no mercy, although they first prey on the apparent naivete of humankind's leaders. Did we mention the film is entirely comical? After the aliens fake their way through diplomacy, they attack using laser guns that vaporize humans. The world is thrown into disarray as the Martian forces invade.

You might note, however, just how hideous these little green men are. They have ridiculously large brains which form their entire head with bulging eyes and skeletal-like jaws. These devious little monsters assault the White House and kill just about every big movie star of the '90s including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Jack Black, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Michael J. Fox among others. They might be short, but these Martians show that size, apparently, isn't everything.

Pennywise (It)

What's that? You didn't realize that Pennywise is an alien? If that's truly the case, then you either must be too terrified to actually read the book or watch the latest pairing of films from director Andy Muschietti. While much of the film focuses on the horrors this movie monster inflicts, the creature is most definitely not of this world. In fact, it's an interdimensional being that crash-landed on Earth in primordial times. This is a realization made by the story's protagonists after taking a drug-induced trip to explore the origins of the creature they're up against.

This instantly makes Pennywise one of the most terrifying aliens of all time. Sure, a horrific clown is hideous all on its own. But this master of terror thrives off of fear and can transform into just about anything your mind can conjure up. Pennywise has taken the form of a creepy leper, a hideous painting of a deformed woman, even a massive spider-like creature. Pennywise's true form isn't quite as interesting as all the manifestations he uses to terrify the children of Derry. His true form is simply three orbs of light referred to as the "dead lights." Any mortal that looks upon them is basically dead meat.  

Assimilating alien (The Thing)

John Carpenter's 1982 film "The Thing" takes home the award for the ugliest and most deplorable looking creature in the cinematic history of extra-terrestrials. The film follows a research crew in Antarctica who come upon a creature that can transmit from organism to organism by assimilating its cells. Once it has taken over its host, it can mutate in a totally disgusting and gory fashion. In fact, it often does so as a survival tactic meant to terrify those who would do it harm. Additionally, it only makes contact with another individual in order to start the assimilation process all over again. If it were to be unleashed in a populated area, one could only imagine the results.

"The Thing" is known for having some of the best practical creature effects in cinema. To the film's credit, these effects heighten the grisly nature of the alien and the means by which it takes life. Gory transformations are some of the best sequences of the film. If you haven't experienced "The Thing," do yourself a favor and give the film a watch. You'll feel the tension and anxiety of not knowing who in the cast is the next victim harboring an alien waiting to be unleashed.