Okay, I decided to do one more week of Halloween Horror Lists, and do a top 13 list because, well … spooky.
This week’s list details my favorite sci-fi horror features. Enjoy, and feel free to post your favorites in the comments section.
Please be aware that I tried not to have any repeats on these lists, so if you see something missing, it might be elsewhere.
Previous Halloween Horror Lists:
Lucky number 13! This little sci-fi indie is not only related to the Dredd universe, it’s also pretty terrifying. The effects are terrific, and the atmosphere of the picture is both mesmerizing and haunting. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s damn cool. Honorable mention: Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I classify this one more as comedy than horror, but it’s a visual delight, and just as wacky and awesome as Hardware.
12) Forbidden World
This sleazy Roger Corman Alien knock-off is actually pretty inventive when you cut past the film’s inherent goofiness. There’s a sly sense of humor portrayed here that really works to the film’s advantage, pumping up the scares and adding an extra sensation to all the sexual exploitation. Plus, that scene with the doctor smoking a cigarette as someone else cuts into his gut to remove a cancer … yeah, it doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
This delightful Gremlins ripoff is actually petty damn scary (and the sequels are fairly fun, too). It’s got great effects, plenty of chills and some truly kickass bounty hunters. Plus it’s got Billy Zane in it. It doesn’t get much better than Zane, folks! Oh, in case you might have been wondering, I didn’t put Gremlins on this list, but don’t fret. It’ll make another horror list in a few months. Just you wait. Another honorable mention: Night of the Creeps. This one is more of a zombie film, with sci-fi elements, but it’s just as awesome as Critters, and it’s got some fantastic one-liners.
Stanley Kubrick seemed to enjoy horror, as quite a few of his films explore the concept, from 2001 to A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. Okay, so 2001 doesn’t really turn into horror until about the 70-minute mark, give or take. But once it does, oh boy is it a ride. And that finale, while gorgeous … so creepy. 2001 is a breathtaking sci-fi masterpiece, though it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who enjoy a slow brew, this film is a tour-de-force of awesome. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
Pretty much every David Cronenberg movie could, on some level, qualify as horror. My favorite is Videodrome (and The Fly, but that’s on another list). The film is a mixture of wild ideas that focus on our consumption of both television, and the extreme. What’s so brilliant about the film is just how invested you get into the mystery. By the end you almost feel as though you are part of the whole story, a piece of the puzzle. The film is dated, sure, but the ideas are not. Also check out eXistenZ, a kind-sorta sequel.
8) Event Horizon
I initially hated Paul W.S. Anderson’s jump-scares-in-space opera, but when I revisited the film on Blu-ray a few years ago, I found myself enthralled by the crafty visuals, the chilling story and the trippy sci-fi elements. Plus, watching Sam Neill fly off the deep end (again) … worth the price of admission right there. Also in the Sam Neill Madness Trilogy: Possession and In the Mouth of Madness.
7) Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The original Invasion is pretty good. The other two remakes aren’t too terrible, either. But I prefer the 1978 remake. I love the groovy ’70s vibe. The effects are cool, Leonard Nimoy is there, and Donald Sutherland … and Jeff “Mother Fucking” Goldblum. I mean, come on. Plus the film is freakin’ scary as hell. It’s an unrelenting sci-fi/horror thriller about paranoia at its absolute scariness. Also, pay close attention for the human dogs. My god … nightmares people. Nightmares.
6) Galaxy of Terror
Another Corman masterpiece of bizarre sci-fi/horror. This one is largely fueled by James Cameron’s visual design, which bares a strange resemblance to his work on Aliens, which came just a few years later. The story itself is actually quite genius, baring a modest resemblance to several episodes of Star Trek (including The Cage), but with more amped-up gore and scares lurking around the corner. This film is basically A Nightmare on Elm Street in space, which is funny considering Robert Englund is featured in both films.
5) The Thing
John Carpenter rocks. That is all. His 1982 sci-fi/horror redo is a landmark in that it’s one of the few times the remake matched or even surpassed the original film. Everyone should follow his lead. The Thing is a spiraling sort of horror mystery, where the monster is never same twice, and you’re always on edge, waiting for what’s next. Also give They Live and Prince of Darkness a gander.
4) The Mist
Another Stephen King adaptation from Frank Darabont. This one’s about monsters from another dimension who invade our world. But that’s just the surface. There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. And that finale … damn. That’s really all I can say. It’s easily the most beautiful, emotionally wrecking finale I have ever seen. And everything that comes before it, well, it’s scary as all hell.
3) Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s terrifying novel doesn’t get much credit for being horror … probably because it HAS Sam Neill, but he DOESN’T go mad (to Spielberg’s credit, Neill had only done Possession at the time). But you know you’re lying if you say you weren’t pissing your pants when good old t-rex came storming past his iron gates, heading for the kids and the sniveling lawyer. Nope. You were scared. You were also scared when the raptors invaded the kitchen. Yes, Jurassic Park is a horror film. It’s a sci-fi slasher … with dinosaurs.
Danny Boyle’s space drama starts off moody and tense, and never seems to quite. Some have complained about the film’s more Alien-like slasher third act, but that’s part of what I love about Sunshine. It’s a film that explores the very real and the very surreal, life and afterlife, god and man, and it does so in such a dazzling, memorable fashion.
1) *tie* Alien/Aliens
Ridley Scott’s slasher-in-space is not only the best sci-fi/horror film out there, rich with tense set pieces, great characters and chilling effects, it’s also one of the best, most brilliantly designed sci-fi masterpieces ever made. In some ways, this one tops Star Wars and Star Trek for me. The attention to detail that Ridley Scott and crew put forth is simply staggering. This film doesn’t feel like a movie. It feels real. There’s an unprecedented authenticity to this picture, and that’s what makes it so damn scary.
James Cameron’s Aliens takes a more grindhouse approach to the series, with a blend of cheesy military tropes giving the film a war-like military action film motif. It’s not as scary, but it’s also a masterpiece in its own way, and one of the best sequels ever made, so don’t miss it.
Next up: A new season, a new series of Lists! Check back to find out more…
If you own a Kindle (or have the free Kindle app on your phone), check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both are just .99 cents. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! And be sure to follow me on Twitter.