Happy Halloween everyone!!!!
Science fiction and horror go hand in hand. Both often center around exploring the unknown and when their tropes and clichés are perfectly combined they can make for unique and effective experiences few other genre combinations can ever hope to accomplish. As a result combining the two has become something of a genre all its own and today I’m going to explore those film that best embrace both genres at the same time. In some cases these films just prove to be fun cross-genre experiences while others have established themselves as some of the greatest movies of all time. In honor of the upcoming science fiction sequel “Terminator: Dark Fate” these are my pick for the Top 10 Science Fiction Horror Films.
Today I’m going to explore some of my favorite films that blend elements of both science fiction and horror. In some cases these movies are more one than the other, but they made their way onto this list because of how effectively they combined elements of both genres. I differentiated between action sci-fi films and horror sci-fi movies so films like “Aliens” and “Predator” which might pass as horror films in some circles but are considered more action movies by the masses were not considered for this list.
What sci-fi horror movies are on your must-see list? Let me know in comments and look for my review of “Terminator: Dark Fate” coming soon.
10. “A Quiet Place”
Co-written, directed by and starring John Krasinski this modern classic is the newest film on this list having been released in 2018. Focusing on a family of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world littered with blind extraterrestrials with insane hearing abilities, “A Quiet Place” blends fun science fiction elements and plenty of horrifying tension as viewers are thrown into the terror of a world where even the smallest sound can mean death. Every scene is built to take full advantage of the movie’s fun premise which helped make it one of the most critically beloved and terrifyingly entertaining films in either sci-fi or horror of the current decade. While “A Quiet Place” still has a long way to go to reach the clout of many films still to come on this list it’s destined to be a classic. It’s popularity as so great that a sequel was quickly green lit and is expected to return us to the silent world of the apocalypse in early 2020.
Based on a story by the one and only H.P. Lovecraft, who himself perfected the concept of horrifying science fiction in literature, “Re-Animator” actually blends three genres with science fiction and horror making up the main elements while a comedic edge adds levity to its insane concept. Focusing on a medical student who discovers a way to bring the dead to life, “Re-Animator” is somewhat of a more modern interpretation of the idea made popular by “Frankenstein” exploring the tragic and dangerous repercussions of dealing in reanimation with gory, terrifying and often hilarious results. “Re-Animator” is lower on my list than some others might put it simply because its campy nature hasn’t quite aged as well for me, but it’s hard for me not to respect what this blend of genres has to offer.
8. “Under the Skin”
Of all the movies on this list, this is the one people are probably least familiar with. Based on a novel by Michel Faber and starring Scarlett Johansson in one of her most sensual performances to date, “Under the Skin” is bound to be considered among the frontrunners of the decades best in science fiction, but it’s also an undeniably scary feature as well. Johansson plays an alien who lures unsuspecting men into her grasp using her sexuality. It’s a fun commentary on the allure of women to men complimented by fantastic filmmaking techniques and Johansson’s memorable performance that perfectly captures the terrifying nature of any creature, human or otherwise, that possesses the charm or attributes to lull us into a false sense of security. While many see this is one of the decades best sci-fi features, it’s also a spectacular reminder of how scary and unnerving the idea of aliens hiding among us can be.
While its spiritual sequel “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a spectacular mix of science fiction and thrills in its own right, the original “Cloverfield” gets the nod here. Filmed in the found footage style, “Cloverfield” puts us right in the middle of a monster attack on New York City as a group of friends tries to escape with their lives. Inspired by and paying homage to the classic Godzilla and King Kong movies of the past, “Cloverfield” gives modern fans their very own genuine movie monster to appreciate while also maintaining a certain mysterious quality by revealing details of the monster slowly throughout the film. While the monster in itself is impressive, the true terror is derived not just from the imposing beast, but from our imaginations of what such an experience would be like in real life.
6. “28 Days Later”
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen, but when “28 Days Later” brought the famed horror monster to a new generation in 2002 it made them more than just a form of flesh-hungry undead. “28 Days Later” includes many of the classic zombie movie tropes but freshens them up with some of the most terrifying versions of the creatures ever put to film. It presents us with faster, meaner, more relentless and deadly monsters and makes them much more threatening and believable as their origins lie in the spread of an infectious virus making it much easier to be infected and confirming you don;t have to die to be turned. Combining the sci-fi cliche of a contagion that spawned numerous imitators including a sequel, “28 Weeks Later”, that was equally entertaining although more geared towards typical horror than science fiction.
Based on Mary Shelley’s immortal novel, “Frankenstein”, like its source material, is the quintessential and arguably original sci-fi horror mashup. The story is well known. The titular scientist builds a living man from scratch but when he mistakenly uses a murderer’s brain as the final piece his resulting creation turns out to be more than he bargained for. Over the years “Frankenstein” has become one of the most beloved monster movies of all time and a legendary horror masterpiece, but its use of a composite human to touch on themes of humanity and civil unrest towards the unknown had this movie touch on classic themes of both genres before they were classics. Despite debuting in the 30s, “Frankenstein” holds up spectacularly well even today and served as an inspiration for many of the movies on this very list.
4. “The Fly”
A classic science fiction remake adapted from the 1957 short story of the same name, “The Fly” of 1986 is considered among the greatest body horror movies of all time and one of David Cronenberg’s most popular works. Mixing science fiction elements with horrific imagery to create an unsettling reality, “The Fly” showcases the tragic result of a scientist’s fusion with a fly during a teleportation experiment and his subsequent transformation into a hybrid of the two species. The special effects and makeup help drive home the horrifying effects of the change bringing to life one of the 80’s most iconic horror monsters, the Brundlefly. Today it remains among the greatest films of its time in both the horror and sci-fi genres with its graphic body-themed horror popularized a subgenre all its own.
3. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”
Another classic remake, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is a bit more science fiction than horror but it still offers plenty of frights in its concept along. As the name suggests, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” sees its characters discover that humans are being replaced by alien copies of themselves lacking human emotion allowing for the extraterrestrials to essentially replace humanity as the superior species on earth by supplanting them. The horror comes from the fear of the unknown, who is real and who is an alien. The idea of aliens is a creepy enough concept, but ones that seek to literally replace the human race and could be anyone at any time are absolutely unnerving. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” utilizes this idea so perfectly even when compared to the original that it has become known as not only one of the greatest sci-fi horror features ever, but one of the best remakes of all time.
2. “The Thing”
Once again we have a remake on this list, this time John Carpenter’s celebrated retelling of “The Thing”. Released in 1982 “The Thing” is a perfect blend of horror and sci-fi elements as another feature focusing on an alien that’s not what it seems. The feature’s titular Thing is a parasitic otherworldly being that assimilates and mimics other organisms meaning that it could be anyone or anything. The nature of the creature causes a group of isolated researchers to question who is and isn’t taken over by the alien creating paranoia in their camp and plenty of suspense for the viewer. Considered and even advertised as “the ultimate in alien terror”, “The Thing” lives up to that promise quite well even several decades later thanks to its thrilling concept and some terrifying and graphic imagery ans scenes like the chest mouth that have become iconic and lasting fear-inducing moments in both of its genres.
While many of the films on this list are great blends of both science fiction and horror elements few have ever done it quite like “Alien”, the safe but obvious pick for my number one spot. Released in 1979, Ridley Scott’s masterpiece is considered both one of the greatest films of the sci-fi and horror genres separately, but also one of the greatest movies ever made period. Not to mention it also introduced the world to Ellen Ripley, one of the greatest science fiction and horror heroines ever. While its sequel was more action oriented, the original “Alien” film was pure horror providing us with possibly the single most iconic alien in all of cinema with the Xenomorph and plenty of terrifying moments fueled by some of the greatest jump scares any movie could ever provide. It’s catch phrase, “in space no one can hear you scream”, says it all and even after all these years it’s still a terrifying and entertaining experience worth revisiting again and again.