As we continue our foray into the six best horror movies from different genres for Halloween this year, next up on the list is the more science fiction specific movies. We’ve already had zombies and apocalypse, which both fall under sci-fi, but these are the sci-fi-est.
The classic, the standard in science fiction horror, we have the 1979 movie Alien. This movie is not only a great sci-fi horror, but a fantastic movie in it’s own right, and in 2002, Alien was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. If you have either claustrophobia or agoraphobia, this movie will terrify you. Not only are the characters trapped on a spaceship with a titular alien, but they are in the middle of space, and no one will be able to save them in time.
There’s a trend beginning with horror lately, where instead of dark and gritty, we have bright colors, as seen in movies like Midsommar. This movie is the ultimate version of that, with some shots that are downright beautiful to see, but absolutely horrifying in their implications or context in the film. This movie is carried by it’s excellent cast, with Natalie Portman attempting to find her husband Oscar Isaac, with the help of Tessa Thompson, within an area that’s being overrun with some kind of alien energy, called “the Shimmer.”
Technically this movie is post-apocalyptic, but seeing as how it’s less about the apocalypse and more about people living their entire lives on a train, I decided that it belongs in the sci-fi bin. This was one of my first ventures into South Korean film, and ever since I have been absolutely enthralled by movies like Train to Busan or Parasite. Chris Evans takes over a peasant uprising from John Hurt, attempting to find class equality from Tilda Swinton and her boss Ed Harris. Not only is there some super fun visuals and action scenes, but the acting in this movie is phenomenal, and as big of a Chris Evans fan that I am, this might be his best acting credit I’ve ever seen.
War of the Worlds
A classic from the olden days of 2005, this Tom Cruise movie is based on the 1897 book and 1938 radio play by H. G. Wells, famous for his other sci-fi horror stories, such as The Invisible Man, or The Island of Dr. Moreau which inspired horror tropes. In fact, “Invasion Literature” was a genre popularized during the late 1800s, and H. G. Wells brought it into the uprising science fiction genre that was gaining popularity at the time. Giant alien robot tri-pods crash land on Earth, and no one knows what they want, but they know that they are killing every person they see with an incredibly powerful death laser that shoots from their eyes. This origin to so many styles of sci-fi is worth being familiar with, and the movie is fun too.
America doesn’t make a ton of kaiju movies, at least not ones that aren’t recreations of Godzilla, but this is a recent movie from 2008, that spawned a semi-successful trilogy with a really interesting mega-monster. This found-footage style of horror was made extremely popular due to movies like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, but using it for an apocalypse level event, to be shown from a bystander is a really new take on the sub-genre. Of course, director J.J. Abrams is famous for his “mystery box” style of storytelling, and so don’t expect any answers to anything that’s going on. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
We of course can’t forget about The Thing. What’s interesting about this movie is that it wasn’t all that popular when it first came out, and wasn’t until it was release on home video and television that it really found it’s audience, and became a cult classic (this kind of cult, not this kind of cult). Part of the reason this movie was greenlit by the studio was due to the success of Alien, listed above. Kurt Russell wasn’t originally cast to be the lead, and in fact was the last person cast, as he was helping director John Carpenter develop the story. Once he did decide to be in the movie, it took him a year to grow out his hair and beard to it’s luxurious length you see below. Interesting note, whenever I hear people mention this movie, they never say “The Thing,” it’s always “John Carpenter’s The Thing” as a way to separate it from the 1951 movie The Thing from Another World, another adaptation from the same book, Who Goes There?.