Science fiction is a genre that lends itself to all sorts of emotional tones. It can feature awe-inspiring action –– think blockbuster hits like Guardians of the Galaxy or Independence Day. Other times, sci-fi movies encapsulate the thrill of adventures, like the Star Wars or Star Trek series. Heck, some sci-fi movies are laugh-out-loud hilarious. However, sci-fi films might be at their best when they take a decidedly darker turn and focus on the horrors living at the edges of our understanding. With that in mind, we’re here to list the top five freakiest sci-fi films of the past fifty years (sorry, Frankenstein).
Ridley Scott’s Alien succeeds fina number of complex reasons. The slow pacing. The brilliant acting of Sigourney Weaver as one of the first truly take-charge female leads in a horror film. H.R. Giger’s terrifying alien concept designs. But for all of the nuance in Alien, it’s also pretty easy to see why it worked so well. Because, deep down, the film is little more than slasher movie set in deep space. And boy, is it great.
Let’s be real, there have been a lot –– and we mean a lot –– of zombie movies made through the years. Some of them have been brilliant, some have been laughably bad, but most are just dull. Boring. Forgettable. 28 Days Later though, breaks through and sits at the peak of the genre, especially in recent times. Plus, the zombies in this flick can actually run! Yeah, there’s plenty of human drama, and the audience has to question “who the real monsters are?” at one point, but who cares, frankly, because the zombies in this movie can really motor and that’s awesome.
The Fly is a film straight out of the golden age of science fiction –– mostly because it’s a remake from that era. Still, the classic story of a scientist obsessed with taking his experiment too far –– and the horrible consequences thereafter –– is always compelling. Not to mention the look of the movie is great: the lab replete is with colorful swab tubes and bending glass apparatuses, the lighting is creepy and foreboding, and of course, everyone’s favorite movie doctor, Jeff Goldblum, excels in this picture.
The Thing and The Fly seem to have a lot in common on paper. Both are ‘80s remakes of ‘50s horror classics and both dial the gore up to 11. However, The Thing embodies a special kind of scary. True, the gore in this flick is monumental, but it’s the little psychological moments that are truly pulse-pounding. In fact, if there’s a more chilling scene than when Mac (Kurt Russell) tests the blood of his coworkers to determine which on of them is “the thing”–– then we’ve yet to see it.
Stanley Kubrick could arguably be on this list with such films as A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. But the most “straightforward” sci-fi movie on his resume, 2001, is plenty freaky on its own. Unlike many other sci-fi/horror crossovers, Kubrick doesn’t try to frighten his audience with a horrible monster from space, or the threat of world-wide annihilation. Instead, Kubrick’s sci-fi movie is a terrifying look at the human condition. And it’s hard to say what’s exactly so scary about 2001 other than it’s hard not to feel like you’re going crazy every time you watch it. It’s just so unsettling and disturbing. Esoteric, bizarre, but ultimately magnificent, 2001 is a must-see for all sci-fi fans.