The Cult-Classic Action Flicks That Inspired Attack The Block

If you haven't watched "Attack The Block," you're missing out. The film takes a novel approach to the alien invasion genre, from its protagonists being a gang of juvenile delinquents to its notable lack of apocalyptic destruction (the aliens are mostly confined to a single South London tower block, and the teens have to dispatch them using makeshift weapons). 

But perhaps the biggest testament to the impact of "Attack the Block" are the impressive careers that its cast members have gone on to since, including John Boyega (who played Finn in the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy), Franz Drameh (who played one half of Firestorm in "Legends of Tomorrow"), and Jodie Whittaker (who plays the most recent incarnation of the Doctor in "Doctor Who"). That's saying nothing of director Joe Cornish, who went on to direct the highly-praised fantasy adventure "The Kid Who Would Be King," and is slated to reunite with Boyega for an "Attack The Block" sequel.

Last year, Cornish took place in an oral history conducted by Vice for the 10th anniversary of "Attack The Block." During the retrospective, talk turned to Cornish's biggest movie influences — with most of them being cult classic films that you may be familiar with. If not, they make for a great list of recommendations for anyone who loved "Attack the Block," and wants to see more movies with a similar vibe.

Mr. Cornish, come out to playyy....

The movies of Walter Hill and John Carpenter served as a major influence on "Attack The Block" — particularly Hill's street gang epic "The Warriors." Cornish said that he drew visual inspiration from "The Warriors" for his own movie, particularly since it takes place at night. That said, the filmmaker also wanted to stay true to the more vibrant aesthetic that comes with the sci-fi genre:

"I was inspired by Walter Hill and John Carpenter's movies, like 'The Warriors,' 'Assault on Precinct 13' and 'Streets of Fire,' which are all set at night and do really cool things with psychedelic colours at night. Most British films are set in that really grim, gritty, depressing environment, but we were making a sci-fi movie so we wanted it to be escapist and otherworldly."

The otherworldly effect is felt in the alien design. The aliens are round spiky black balls with glowing blue fangs lining their mouths, and they also bleed neon blue blood when wounded. Cornish and cinematographer Tom Townend also chose to utilize lighting in creative ways, from the gang's first appearance to their leader, Moses (Boyega), running down a brightly-lit hallway while the aliens chase him. And like "The Warriors," "Attack The Block" features a group of teens in the fight of their life — only the "rival gang" in this case is an invading race of aliens.

One for the funnybooks

Another source of inspiration for the film's design were comic books, as Cornish loves the medium and used it to plot out the look and feel of the action sequences: 

"We wanted to make it look like a comic book and put fantasy cinema in a place where fantasy cinema wasn't usually allowed to go. I'm a big comic book fan and as a first time director, I found that a very useful way to visualise the film, plan what cool frames would be like, and what were the people and objects would look their best."

Indeed, both the premise and visuals of "Attack the Block" resemble a graphic novel — especially when Moses picks up a katana to fight the aliens. Cornish's love of comic books has since led him to work on more directly comic-related projects: he helped write the screenplay for the first "Ant-Man" movie, and is slated to direct an adaption of the Image Comics series "Starlight" for 20th Century Studios. Hopefully, Cornish will take the lessons he learned from "Attack The Block" and apply them to "Starlight" — especially since that series takes place on an alien planet.