A Bloody Good Time 07.12.12: Top 20 Sci-Fi/Horror Films, Part 1 (#20-11)
Posted by Joseph Lee on 07.12.2012
From Predator and Night of the Creeps to Godzilla, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and more, 411's Joseph Lee begins his look at the top 20 sci-fi horror films of all time with #20 - #11!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
Last week I looked at the Children of the Corn franchise. Apparently you all care about that series as much as I do, because I barely got any comments. I thank the ones who did comment, but since I'm running behind I can't answer them this week. I will say to the person that asked that I did do an Alien vs Predator franchise look in my first year at 411 (2007) and since two movies have been out since then, it may be time for a revist.
This week I'm diving into my top twenty sci-fi/horror films. I meant to do this before the release of Prometheus, but decided to have a month dedicated to horror TV instead. So you're getting it now. Deal with it.
Last year I asked you if you would approve of an expansion into the realms of sci-fi and exploitation, since I've been around for almost five years now and I've covered a lot of various topics. You said yes. But instead of starting with this, the most obvious choice, I just looked at some great sci-fi franchises and abandoned it. That ends today.
What is a sci-fi horror film? Well that's easy. It's a film that combines elements of science fiction and horror. Usually there will be fantastic technology that is in no way possible, grotesque mutations or aliens from other worlds that do more than shoot ray guns. There's a reason why something like Independence Day isn't horror (in my estimation, anyway) and The Thing is. Basically if it involves science and it's made to scare you, then it's what I'm looking for.
For those wondering where Prometheus is, I'll tell you. I loved that film, and I definitely consider it sci-fi/horror, but it's still too early for me to declare it one of the best of its type. Before I can commit to throwing it on a list like this (or even decide where I want it on my end-of-the-year list), I have to rewatch it at least one more time. So Prometheus is not here, not because I don't love it, but because it's too recent. So this should relieve those of you that, for some bizarre reason that I'll never understand, actually didn't like the movie.
Anyway, enough talking, we have some great movies to look at!
#20: Altered States (1980)
Altered States is a weird little horror film that I really need to watch again at some point and see if it's as weird as I remember. Yes, it's the only one in this list I've only seen once but several of the images have stuck with me over the years, which is enough for it to earn it's spot at the start of this list. The film is about a man who decides to study sensory deprivation which he does mixed with drugs and the result is that he turns into a move primitive version of man and continues to risk devolving until he is erased from reality altogether.
If you love body horror (and who doesn't?), you'll probably enjoy this. This isn't horror in the sense that he's going to come out and get you, but in that horrifying things are happening to this man in the pursuit of science. Not only does the transformation itself involve some neat special effects, but the hallucinations that Jessup experiences are wild and easy to have nightmares about if you think too long about the imagery. That's all nightmares are, a series of images that fill you with a sense of dread and anxiety. This movie may not be as scary as more pure horror films, but it does get under your skin and sit at the back of your mind when it's over. Sometimes that's just as effective.
#19: The Fly II (1989)
I've talked about this before (last year, in fact) and this is definitely a great sequel and probably one that shouldn't even exist. Cronenberg's The Fly ended on a perfect note and this was an obvious cash-in, but it manages to make the best of what it is for a fun monster movie. If The Fly is A-level horror, then The Fly 2 is its B-movie cousin and it's an incredibly well-made and entertaining B-movie. There's nothing wrong with those types of movie at all.
The movie follows the son of Seth Brundle, who has the same mutated genes and after rapidly aging to about 20, he begins turning into a monster. Not only does he have the problem of mutation to worry about, but he's also on the run from the evil Bartok corporation who wants to exploit him for science. This movie isn't so much about the story or acting (although there is a decent amount of both) as the first one was, it's more about the chance to show off some nasty creature effects and gore. When it comes to that department, this film is very impressive.
Oh, it also has a very sad scene involving a dog. Well, sad for dog lovers. Remember, I think Cujo is a tragedy.
#18: Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Some people see the title this movie and dismiss it with a wanking gesture and assume it's bad. Those people don't even give it a chance so I think it's fair to say they're stupid. What they miss is a delightfully fun spoof of 1950s alien invasion films that is both amusing and entertaining. In case you didn't catch it from the title, it involves a group of aliens that resemble evil clowns, who begin capturing the residents of a small town in batches of cotton candy in order to eat them later by liquifying their bodies.
The best part about this movie is all of the inventive and silly ways the clowns (Klowns?) kill people. Popcorn guns, acidic pies, devouring people with shadow puppets and more. The Klowns are definitely evil, and they will kill you for no good reason, but they're really entertaining at the same time. The Chiodo Brothers have been threatening a sequel for years and I think Hollywood could use another Killer Klowns movie to remember to stop being so serious. Oh and the theme song? Classic.
#17: Night of the Creeps (1986)
How can you not love Tom Atkins? The man with the mustache has been around for years and has been entertaining in just about everything I've seen him. I go back and forth about whether I love or hate Halloween 3 but I'll still watch it if it's on because Atkins is great. Night of the Creeps is his favorite role of all of his movies (he says so on the special features of another DVD, that being Maniac Cop) and it's hard to disagree with him. Atkins is at his absolute best here as the cop with a past who tells everyone to "thrill me".
If you've seen Slither, you've got the basic idea of what this was about. And this was made first. Slugs from outer space begin infecting humans and turning them into zombies. The problem spreads quickly and soon it's our heroes fighting a horde of the monsters while trying to find the source of the infestation and stopping the problem once and for all. Creeps comes from Fred Dekker, the man who also created The Monster Squad and was pretty awesome until Robocop 3 killed his career dead.
#16: From Beyond (1986)
This movie also contains one of my all-time favorite taglines ever: "Humans are such easy prey". As it turns out, some of the best taglines come from lines in the movies themselves. This film is one of Stuart Gordon's various adaptations of the work of H.P. Lovecraft and it happens to star two of my favorite horror actors in Ken Foree and Jeffrey Combs. The story involves two scientists who try to stimulate the pineal gland and activate a sixth sense and instead open the doorway to an alternate (and terrifying) universe.
Pretty much everyone in this movie is great, but a special mention goes to Ted Sorel, who plays the villain. Combs gets his moments to be evil too, but it's Sorel who is the true force of badness and he steals the show. Add to that some really cool special effects (something you'll notice is common in sci-fi/horror films) and you have one of the most entertaining and underrated horror films of the 1980s.
#15: Godzilla (1954)
I will never get tired of talking about Godzilla and his long film career, but eventually I run out of things to say. While you can never really say the sequels were anything more than cheesy monster movies, this one is played serious and focuses more on the horrors of atomic warfare. After all, it was made less than a decade after the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the country we bombed. The monster itself is more or less a symbol of the horror of nuclear radiation, a problem which was still affecting them at the time (and may still be now, I'm not sure).
That's why this movie is a horror film. While you may not necessarily find it scary, that was its intent. As a film in general, it's very well made and is far more than just a man-in-a-suit monster movie that the sequels would go on to be. Not that there's anything wrong with that, because I love those movies. But this is something else entirely and there's a reason that's it has endured as long as it has. Godzilla is a classic film period, not just a classic horror or sci-fi film.
#14: The Blob (1958)
This is a classic monster movie that combines an alien invasion story, a monster on the loose story and movies like Outbreak or The Andromeda Strain where there's a disease that is killing everyone in its path. Work with me, here, I do have a point. The blob is very much like a disease. It's not really sentient (as far as we can tell) or have any other motives than to consume and destroy. Even monsters have a reason for attacking, be it a city is in their way or we've angered in some way. The blob is just here to eat and nothing can stop it.
That's one of the reasons the blob was so scary when it was released and the concept is so scary today. There's no reasoning with this thing, there's no way to appeal to it or outsmart it or anything like that. It's just a force of nature, although more like a tornado than a flood. At least you can try to contain a flood. The worst part about this monster is that the more it eats, the bigger it gets. So not only does it threaten your tiny life, but the lives of everyone in the world if you're too stupid to get away. Thanks a lot. You've not only killed yourself, but you've endangered our lives as well by feeding it!
#13: The Blob (1988)
This is kind of a cheat to put them back to back like this, but I mostly consider both films to be equal, with the remake pushing only slightly ahead in the end. The only reason for that, to me, is that the original's special effects don't hold up as well as the ones in the remake. They're still both versions of a great monster movie, but that's why this one gets the nod over its predecessor. Thirty years after the original we get this remake which not only has the same destructive ooze, but its also upping the ante by showing the bloody result of when this thing eats somebody.
I'm guessing those who watched the originals probably could guess that whoever it ate was melted down and turned into part of the blob, but this one actually shows you how quickly this thing can just dissolve you. The result is some of the best sci-fi effects of the 80s, on par with even the big budget films of the time. The Blob is a nasty piece of work, and is not only just as good as the original, but in my opinion slightly better. That's pretty high praise.
#12: Predator (1987)
Predator is a slasher film. Much like Alien and The Terminator, it involves a malevolent, inhuman force picking off a group of people one by one until only the hero or heroine is left. It just so happens that in this case the group of people is an elite special forces team and the alien creature is hunting them for sport. It's a really cool concept that can also be really scary in the right hands. If these gun toting manly men are unable to stop such a creature, what hope would we have if it decided to hunt us?
Luckily Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the team and he manages to outmaneuver the creature long enough to leave it a one on one battle between man and monster, predator and prey. It's not that different from Alice surviving the Crystal Lake massacre in Friday the 13th except for the fact that we have an action star against a dread-locked monster that will skin you alive. At least Mrs. Voorhees killed you as soon as she saw you.
#11: Slither (2006)
Yes, I like Slither more than Night of the Creeps. Sue me. This movie isn't actually a remake of Creeps, but it follows a very similar plot and so there is a lot to compare between the two films. Personally, I like the film for its witty script and fun cast (this is where I first discovered Nathan Fillion). Michael Rooker plays the villain! Sure, he does that a lot but when is he ever bad at it? There's just so much to love in this movie from the dialogue, to the performances to the great, great creature effects.
In my opinion, Slither is not only a great sci-fi/horror/comedy, but it's just an underrated movie. I'll never forget the year that When A Stranger Calls somehow managed to get $66 million and Slither couldn't even get back its budget a month later. That's when I knew that mainstream audiences will never really get what horror is supposed to be. They'll just see the same homogeneous crap over and over instead of a film that tries something new with a familiar concept. Have you seen When A Stranger Calls? It's one of the most boring, cliched movies of the past ten years! Anyway, Slither is a very underrated and very great film and you should watch it if you haven't already.
That's it for me. Has your favorite made the list yet? What do you think about these choices? Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week we hit the top ten, and you can probably guess what's on there.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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