Earth can be shitty. Sometimes, being whisked away by a passing starship sounds like a pretty good idea. However—it completely depends on who’s behind the controls. Hanging with the Arrival heptapods would be pretty chill. Being shanghaied by any of the following kidnap-happy aliens, however, would not.
1) The Predator in Predators
In the earlier movies, Predators came to Earth to conduct their hunting rituals (and/or brawl with the Alien aliens). But in 2010's Predators, we finally learned what it would be like to be spirited away to a far-flung planet, having been deemed vicious enough to become designated prey for Predators-in-training. No surprise, it’s an almost immediate death sentence... unless you are a crafty scavenger played by Laurence Fishburne. Even if you manage to survive, you’re still stuck on a Predator playground that’s constantly being restocked by killer creatures cherry-picked from across the universe, with very, very little chance of escape.
2) The Klowns in Killer Klowns from Outer Space
In this campy horror comedy, aliens who look like Pennywise’s bratty younger brothers beam to Earth in a flying circus tent, wielding guns that spray cotton-candy cocoons and other ghoulish weaponry. Though the Klowns don’t necessarily seem interested in snatching any humans to their homeworld, imagine what a teeth-rottingly terrible journey that would be, full of freaky balloon animals and “pranks” that are actually designed to decapitate you. Developing a debilitating case of coulrophobia would be the least of your worries.
3) The Greys in Communion
In this nightmarish tale, a man teeters on the edge of sanity after becoming convinced that he’s being targeted by alien visitors. Whitley Strieber, who penned the film’s best-selling source material, claimed the tale was based on his own real-life experiences. Christopher Walken’s typically passionate performance as Strieber suggests just how traumatizing spending time with the Greys would be—especially with the side effect of everyone around you assuming you’re a complete wack job.
4) The Sumerian-Speaking Aliens in The Fourth Kind
The Fourth King is mostly remembered for its gimmick of producing fake “archival footage” to make its “dramatizations” (starring Milla Jovovich and others) feel more authentic. Still, its aliens—who make late-night bedside visits to communicate threats in ancient languages, and are fond of snatching children as well as snapping the necks of their adult targets and/or framing them for hideous crimes—are a nasty bunch, to be avoided at all costs.
5) “Them” in The Forgotten
Grieving mother Telly (Julianne Moore) is already mourning the loss of her son in a plane crash when she awakes one day to find that nobody besides her remembers he even existed... and everyone’s acting like she’s completely nuts. Fortunately, her motherly love is enough to set things right in the end—but the aliens who grabbed her child, faked a plane crash, wiped the memories of seemingly everyone in Telly’s orbit, and have various Earthbound government agencies under their control—are definite contenders for cruelest kidnappers in the galaxy.
6) The Grays in Dark Skies
A suburban family attracts the unwholesome interest of extraterrestrials who take sadistic delight in putting them through a series of Horror Movie 101 terrors. After they consult an expert (an excellently-cast J.K. Simmons), the family goes into full anti-alien-abduction mode to protect the young son who appears to be the chosen target—only to see their other kid ripped away right before their eyes. If you were gonna grab the boy, aliens, why not just go ahead and take him without all the sinister build-up? Making matters worse, mom and dad are blamed for their son’s disappearance, along with everything else.
7) The aliens in “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,’” The X-Files
This third-season entry is a fan favorite for a reason—despite the show’s recurring alien themes, it’s a stand-alone monster-of-the-week episode with plenty of trademark quirkiness (exhibit A: Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek cameo as Men in Black). As is tradition, it’s not entirely clear if the aliens in this particular episode are real or part of a government conspiracy (or both), but many of the people involved in the tale end up dead or just thoroughly confused. No good for them... but great for the scifi author who pens a book about the incident, and excellently fun (if, again, a little confusing) viewing for us.
8) The Scowling Extraterrestrials in Fire in the Sky
Like Communion before it, Fire in the Sky is based on a purportedly true story of alien abduction. Unlike Communion before it, Fire in the Sky contains maybe the single most terrifying close encounter in cinema. The aliens in Communion were scary, sure, but the creatures in Fire in the Sky are goddamn merciless, and so is this flashback scene.
9) The Martians in Mars Needs Moms
We’ve covered the various unpleasantries of this movie before, but it still stands that being abducted by Martians who want to suck out your “mom-ness” so it can be used by child-rearing robots would be abundantly shitty, if not as terrifying as the other aliens on this list. (Reminder: Mars Needs Moms is not a horror movie, it’s an animated comedy for the kiddies.)
10) The Martians of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Again, these spandex-wearing green men are more obnoxious than scary, but that doesn’t make hanging around them any less unpleasant. In this Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic, the Martians realize their American TV-watching kids are all dead inside, and kidnap Santa to bring them joy and consumer products. Along the way, they reveal themselves to be belligerent, like the sullen anti-happiness Voldar, or deeply annoying, especially “comic relief” Dropo. The good news is that these Martians seemed solely interested in Santa, so unless you put on a fake white beard and work at the mall during the holidays, you’re probably safe.