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Alien Nation (1988)

0:32 | Trailer
In 1988, Earth makes the first contact with an alien civilization. In 1991, these aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after three years of quarantine.


Graham Baker
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Matthew Sykes
Mandy Patinkin ... Sam Francisco
Terence Stamp ... William Harcourt
Kevyn Major Howard ... Kipling
Leslie Bevis ... Cassandra
Peter Jason ... Fedorchuk
Conrad Dunn Conrad Dunn ... Quint (as George Jenesky)
Jeff Kober ... Josh Strader
Roger Aaron Brown ... Bill Tuggle
Tony Simotes Tony Simotes ... Wiltey
Michael David Simms Michael David Simms ... Human Dealer
Ed Krieger Ed Krieger ... Alien Dealer
Tony Perez ... Alterez
Brian Thompson ... Trent Porter
Francis X. McCarthy ... Capt. Warner (as Frank McCarthy)


A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine but are victims of a new type of discrimination. When the first Newcomer police officer, Sam Francisco is assigned his new partner, he is given Matthew Sykes , a mildly racist veteran, the animosity between them soon gives way to respect as they investigate the Newcomer underworld, and especially Newcomer leader William Harcourt. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Los Angeles, 1991. They have come to Earth to live among us. They've learned the language, taken jobs, and tried to fit in. But there's something about them we don't know. See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The nickname that cast and crew gave to the alien humanoid characters in the film was "Potato Heads", due to their resemblance to potatoes. See more »


When George drinks the milk at Matt's house the milk disappears from his lip between shots. See more »


[Translating for Newcomer 'Porter' to Sykes]
Det. Samuel 'George' Francisco: Your mother mates out of season.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In UK cinemas, 2 versions were shown in different cinemas. In some cinemas, certain Newcomer native dialogue was subtitled into English and in others it was not. This happens most notably in the scene where George and the morgue attendant discuss the Newcomer corpse and recognise aspects of the body as representing the drug addiction. Also a short dialogue between Harcourt and Kipling after Harcourt first meets George and Matt where Kipling tells Harcourt that Sykes was the policeman in the shootout at the film's opening. See more »


Referenced in Kung Fury (2015) See more »


Surfin' Safari
Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love
Performed by The Beach Boys
Courtesy of Deck Records
By Arrangement with Original Sound Entertainment
See more »

User Reviews

Ahead Of It's Time...
27 June 2006 | by jcduggerSee all my reviews

Many people have the wrong impression of this movie. Most group it in within the "cop/buddy" genre and cheesy sci-fi. But "Alien Nation" is much more than that. In fact, it was way ahead of it's time.

I saw this movie in a dimly-lit, run-down Detroit-area theater at the age 14, an afternoon in the fall of 1988. I recall how the "atmosphere" of the movie matched that of the run-down theater I was sitting in. At 14, and with the title of "Alien Nation", a young kid like myself wanted to see weird alien creatures and lots of action. At the time, I was disappointed. This movie is about story, not action or weird aliens. Although I didn't really understand nor enjoy the movie at the time, it always stuck with me for some reason. So, nearly 18 years after seeing it on the silver screen, I re-watched it at home and was amazed by the depth of the story and the grittiness of the background. It was little wonder why I didn't like it at 14, but loved it at 32.

This story is really about race and immigration, with the hated race being alien immigrants. It shows how hatred and ignorance over race can transform one's personality, like the lead character played by James Caan.

Alien Nation asks questions about ourselves as humans. How would we react if aliens landed on Earth and announced they were escaping a brutal planet full of slavery and have immigrated to Earth? Would we accept them as our own, or would we force them to become outcasts? Would we allow an "Affirmative Action" scenario in regards to Aliens and Alien rights? Would we offer them high-paying jobs and/or top-notch education, depriving humans of those same jobs and quality education in exchange? To me, Alien Nation is one of the more possible (and perhaps likely) scenarios. Aliens delegated to run-down areas of big cities. Token jobs occasionally handed out because it's forced by the Government to do so. And a general disgust towards Aliens amongst the human population. In that regard, this movie was way ahead of the curve.

Great movie. 9 out of 10 stars. Recommended for those over 25, perhaps those with a higher intellect than most. Not recommended for someone looking for a "Men In Black" type of Alien movie. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster filled with Aliens, that's for sure.



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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

7 October 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Future Tense See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,421,429, 10 October 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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