Top 13 Favorite Horror Films Part 666: Sci-Fi Horror

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:

Part 1: The Classics

Part 2: Books

Part 3: Slashers

Part 4: Zombies!

Part 5: The Obscure

***

13) Hardware

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.

11) Critters

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.

10) 2001

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.

9) Videodrome

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.

2) Sunshine

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.

Advertisements

The Horror is Out Now!

My latest, terrifying novelette, THE HORROR is now available on Amazon Kindle (BUY HERE).

NOTE: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to read the story. All you need is the Kindle app, which is available on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

TheHorrorCoversmaller

Synopsis: 

What if the horrors of a seemingly innocent and fun haunted house attraction were real? What if someone were inside with you, stalking you and feeding on your fear? What if every corner of the maze were deadly? What if you couldn’t get out?

The Horror tells the story of Lisa and Alan, two college teens visiting a theatrical haunted maze themed after local urban legends. Once inside it becomes clear that the macabre sights are not just smoke and mirrors, and gallons of fake blood, but the gory work of a deranged psychopath who is inside the house, hunting them. The two lovers must attempt to escape before this crazed lunatic tracks them down and completes his grisly ritual.

Background:

With The Horror, I wanted to craft a special short story for the Halloween season, and I wanted this story to be something “balls to the wall” scary. Ultimately, The Horror was inspired by one of my wife’s worst fears: that someone inside a haunted house might have nefarious plans for the guests. While the core story of The Horror has been swimming around my noggin for close to a decade, the plot began to truly form this September, when my wife and I visited the haunted houses at Universal Studios.

The result is a haunting, atmospheric ride through a terrifying, nail-biting narrative that simply doesn’t let up. But it’s also a story designed to make you think. The Horror explores the nature of trauma and death through brutal metaphor. It examines what we really fear and how our culture deals with disaster. The story is a response to those who criticize horror as exploitation or entertainment, all while fueling a reader’s fears through thrilling set pieces, unnerving suspense, vivid description and meaningful characters.

I hope you will enjoy The Horror as much as I enjoyed writing and editing it. Keep in mind, the story is quite scary, so I would definitely recommend this one to hardcore horror readers, especially lovers of the slasher genre.

Happy Halloween!

Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 1: The Classics

Time for some lists! And since Halloween is nearing, I thought I’d start with a series of Halloween Horror Lists detailing my favorite horror films, starting with … The Classics.

Every week in October I will offer a different list outlining my favorites (four lists total, no repeated films). I’ll also do a list for my favorite horror/thriller books. Feel free to sound off in the comments below with your own horror favorites!

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different movies on it … what can I say, I absolutely love horror films. It’s hard to pick favorites.

________________________

10) The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

It might not be a classic yet, but just you wait. Drew Goddard’s horror send-up is a delightfully fun, funny and freaky spin on the “evil cabin” horror subgenre. In many ways, it’s a better follow-up to the Evil Dead franchise than the somewhat thin remake of Evil Dead we got in 2013. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor.

9) Evil Dead 2 (1987)

The original Evil Dead scares me a bit more than Evil Dead 2, but the second film delivers that fine blend of horror and laughs, while solidifying the B-movie icon status for star Bruce Campbell, and setting up director Sam Raimi for one hell of a career.

8) Friday the 13th The Final Chapter (1984)

If you only watch one Friday the 13th film, let it be this one. It’s not a masterpiece in the writing department, but the colorful cast, and equally colorful gore, make this one the absolute highlight of the series.

7) An American Werewolf in London (1981)

A tragic, scary, funny outing about a man who slowly comes to realize that he’s a werewolf. Every beat is stunning, and the film rarely ceases to surprise. The makeup effects are staggering, too. Many horror fans go back and forth as to which werewolf film is the best: The Howling or American Werewolf, but this one tops it for me. Always has. Always will.

6) The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s creepy creature-feature is easily one of the best monster movies ever made, rich with taught direction, clever characters and outstanding writing. I am completely invested in this feature from start to finish. Honorable mentions here: The Thing and Alien. Also classics. Perhaps I’ll include them on another list at some point. Best Horror Sci-fi, perhaps?

5) Halloween (1978)

I often credit Black Christmas as one of my favorite slashers, but let’s face it – John Carpenter’s Halloween is the true classic. It’s frightening. It gets under your skin. And it’s still really great more than 35 years later. You just can’t beat it.

4) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Gritty and fiendishly dreamy, A Nightmare on Elm Street feels like a soap opera that’s been invaded by a nefarious force of evil. Robert Englund is terrific as Freddy Krueger, and Wes Craven’s direction keeps things intense and scary as hell, even on repeat viewings.

3) The Exorcist (1974)

This is a freaky masterpiece of spiritual horror. I still recall watching it with my friends and family and feeling the room grow silent, cold and nervous as the priests performed the exorcism. To say The Exorcist is riveting cinema is a bit of an understatement. Now, I’m torn about which version to suggest watching. If I had to pick, I’d go theatrical cut first, followed by the altered Director’s Cut.

2) Jaws (1975)

To this day I am still terrified every single time Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) dips into the cage to go one-on-one against Steven Spielberg’s killer shark. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for this film, and I’m not alone. Jaws is often credited with inspiring more writing/filmmaking careers than pretty much any film ever made. It’s THAT good.

1) The Shining (1980)

Stephen King’s clever, but admittedly meandering book is tinkered and adapted into an absolute cinema masterpiece. It’s also one of the best horror films I’ve ever come across, and is mandatory viewing for any self-respecting fan of the genre. What Stanley Kubrick does, and says, with his frame is still studied to this day. Don’t believe me? Just check out Room 237. Note: there are two versions of this film available, a longer US cut and a shorter international version (or Director’s Cut, as it is sometimes called – it was Kubrick’s preferred cut). Both versions are terrific, but I tend to prefer Kubrick’s shorter Director’s Cut. The pacing and intensity is much tighter, but you can’t really feel the cuts at all.

Next week: My top ten favorite horror books!