The combination of sci-fi with the primal fear that is evoked by horror creates a product which most definitely is a match made in hell. These genres have for long created a unique and thought-provoking experience for its audience.
Classics like Alien, The Thing, and The Fly has shown the audience what a combination of sci-fi horror has to offer. Unfortunately, besides a handful most movies are much underrated. This video will give a list of such movies from the 80s and 90s that will get your hearts racing.
Body Melt (1993)
Unbeknownst to them, the residents of the suburbs of Pebbles Court, Homesville are being used as test subjects for a supplementary diet additive called “Vimuville” pill which is supposed to create healthy human beings. However, these additives come with rather harmful side-effects including hallucinations, mutations, and rapid cellular decay.
A man who had previously acted as a test subject tries to warn the townsfolk’s of the downsides of consuming the pills but is killed by tentacles growing from his throat. Subsequently, the residents undergo terrible alterations which include their flesh turning to liquid, elongated tongues, and exploding stomachs.
Body Melt, directed by Philip Brophy, is a peculiar specimen of the sci-fi horror genre containing slapstick gore that reminds viewers of Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and David Cronenberg’s works.
It plays on a satirical commentary about people who obsess about an extremely healthy lifestyle to the point where they would do anything, even take an unknown set of pills. It is a splatter fest with a 90s atmosphere that makes fun of GNC store customers.
The tone of catastrophe is palpable from the very beginning as viewers are able to anticipate the ominous indefinitely making its way to them. Brophy’s style and directorial techniques contain a fantastically precise element about space, topography, and how the human mind perceives these realms.
Incredible camerawork has been performed for the film, portraying close-ups of Pebbles Court and then taking the next shot to a resident’s letterbox. This provides a mysterious effect on the audience as they are informed without dialogue about the pill’s significance in arriving free of charge.
With such humorous, self-aware phrases like “mind-enhanced” and “intra-phenomenological” to subtly contribute satire, Body Melt is worth a watch.
Project: Metalbeast (1995)
In the year 1974, an ambitious soldier Donald Butler is accompanied by his young colleague to investigate a Hungarian island castle. CIA’s classified data suggests that a fierce man-eating werewolf resides there as well.
Butler and his colleague are sent on a mission to extract a sample of the werewolf’s blood and bring it back to assure the success of the Project Metalbeast designed to create an army of soldiers with werewolf like abilities. The project is far more tedious than expected and eventually they run out of werewolf blood.
Butler ends up injecting the last bit of blood in himself and ends up becoming a ravenous wolf who goes on a killing spree around the CIA facility eventually stopped when his boss Miller shoots him with a silver bullet.
Miller covers the whole thing up and has all the bodies including Butler’s, cryogenically frozen. Two decades later, a team of medical scientists is attempting to find a way to create artificial skin that can help during a skin transplant. They are approached by Miller, who offers them several human subjects for testing.
Alessandro de Gaetano’s Project: Metalbeast does not strive to reach the same levels of An American Werewolf in London or The Howling. Instead, it is a film with self-aware, unabashed schlock that should purely be watched for entertainment and thrill.
It deserves credit for coming up with a unique concept on the werewolf horror genre along with a classic dose of creature feature sci-fi. The film envisions an alternate version of the post-World War II era where real werewolves have been discovered: this is precisely what they would be used for.
It portrays intriguing, relevant themes such as man-made destructions and corrupt authoritative personnel, with “Metalbeast” representing how human beings often think that they can play god.
The special effects were schlocky and delightful. Several viewers wondered why a synthetic skinned werewolf was a fresh outlook within werewolf lore. The reason is that it makes the silver bullets impenetrable, giving them an extra edge over their human targets.
Finally, the film portrays a clear-cut juxtaposition between forward thinking ideas that would progress the scientific world and traditional ones that would make most people in today’s day and age roll their eyes.
Nightmare City (1980)
A political reporter and a principled man, Dean Miller and his wife are on the run escaping a group of bloodthirsty Zombies, created from exposure to nuclear radioactivity, in a small European city. The military is doing their best to fight the undead as citizens continue to flee for their lives.
Nightmare City, directed by Umberto Lenzi, presents a thrilling opening sequence, setting the tone for the fast-paced movie. It is an unleashing of violence and fantastic camerawork, keeping a large group of infected humans with Hercules like strength in the midst.
The film created a massive uproar in the 1980s for giving zombies a new edge since, as unlike other zombies, these weren’t corpses resurrected from the dead. Lenzi incorporates an innovative sci-fi element by making nuclear radioactivity the cause of their state and bloodthirst.
Unlike other Zombie’s, the ones in Nightmare City aren’t mindless creatures. Instead, they have the skill and mindfulness to plan their attacks with the capability of using weapons. In certain ways, the film incorporates aspects of Italian exploitation horror, where, despite questionable acting and iffy special effects, the gore, violence, and out-of-the-ordinary storyline make it extremely watchable.
Altered States (1980)
A graduate student Eddie Jessup known for his brilliant, outlandish and somewhat bizarre experiments conducts one within an isolation chamber with himself as the test subject. Subsequently, he starts hallucinating, getting religious visions despite not being quite religious himself.
Seven years later, Eddie is now a renowned professor at Harvard believing that he has lost his touch in experimenting. He makes a decision to resume his work on sensory depravations and uses untested hallucinogens to further it. In the initial phases of it, he claims to enter in an alternate physical and mental state. His wife Emily and colleagues don’t seem to buy it but become very concerned about his wellbeing.
Ken Russell’s Altered States evokes a metaphysical vibe right from the beginning, where by the end of the movie, viewers are questioning things as far back as the world’s creation billions of years ago.
It’s a thought-provoking watch that subtly boosts the human ego by letting them think they can wrestle against any force, no matter how large and unknown it is. The movie contains great dialogues during specific sequences accompanied by breathtaking visuals. Popular opinion entails that Russell and his team’s intention was to overwhelm viewers with an excessively sensual aura.
Russell blends horror and sci-fi so well that neither overpowers the other. This film is a 100 minutes plus of visual pyrotechnics and apocalyptic sexuality with dollops of psychological horror. The uniqueness of the film lies in the fact that instead of ghosts or zombies, it is the psychedelic effects in the brain that it would make you question human existence.
Deep Space (1988)
The US military loses control of a secret satellite containing biological weapon subsequent to which, it crashes near Los Angeles. The satellite escapes the crash site and starts terrorizing the locals. Lieutenant McLemore is given the task to put a stop to these creatures before they cause a greater chaos.
Deep Space, directed by Fred Olen Ray, is an entertaining sci-fi horror movie that incorporates a cops and robbers format, albeit replacing the robbers with extra-terrestrials. Despite its obvious schlocky demeanour, it is a cute Alien rip-off with a bunch of great one-liners that is bound to leave the audience cackling. The cast lead by Charles Napier who does a great job as Lt. McLemore is also accompanied by a few appearances by the gorgeous Julie Newmar.
Furthermore, it contains several thrilling and fast-paced action sequences combined with gooey over-the-top special effects. It has a set of hilarious dialogues that might often distract viewers from the horror of it all.
Nevertheless, Deep Space is self-aware and must be watched for its enjoyment and entertainment value. Fred Olen Ray proves you don’t have to resort to trashy gore and nudity to attract a cult following. This is one worth watching on a drunken night with friends.
The film is premised on Dr. Jennifer Pailey who is accompanied by her sister Lisa on a trip to small ski resort in Snowfield, Colorado. On reaching there, they discover that there is no one living there instead it is littered with corpses. The sisters suspect a murderer might be on the loose but oddly enough, none of the bodies have blood around it nor does it show any sign of struggle.
The sisters’ encounter the town’s Sherriff Bryce Hammond, a former FBI agent. While investigating the murders, Hammond and his deputy bring in additional assistance from an academic who theorizes that the town has been struck by the Ancient Enemy, an age-old entity that appears within civilizations from time to time and wipes them out. It was the Ancient Enemy that was responsible for wiping out the Mayans and Roanoke Island colonists.
Based on the novel by Dean Koontz, Joe Chappelle’s Phantoms first and foremost succeeds with its blend of the ominous with a mysterious overtone. It ups the ante with the tension and goose bump inducing fear without any cheap humour. Not to mention, the young Ben Affleck playing the sheriff certainly attracted the female audience’s attention.
The element of horror stays consistent throughout the picture without withering away. And though viewers might notice a mash-up of themes borrowed from other films, Joe Chappelle succeeds in creating a whole new movie with high entertainment value to woo the audience.
The second half is filled with stunning performance from the likes of Peter O’Toole and Rose McGowan. The special effects are fairly decent and have a well-written script, by Dean Koontz himself, although he does not add many things from his novel to his movie. The storyline is also fairly unique and bound to attract the audience.
The Rift (1990)
Siren II, an experimental submarine, is sent to trace out Siren I locating it to an underwater rift surrounded by toxic weed. After some polarity tricks, the Siren II surfaces into a cave where the crew discovers that the corporation that modified the subs has been experimenting with genetic engineering to develop a variety of mutations.
Directed by Juan Piquer Simon, The Rift, is designed to somewhat resemble James Cameron’s Aliens. It is a creature feature with a certain charm that will remind viewers of Robert Corman’s icky sci-fi classics.
Cinematographer Juan Marine adds his signature style by making the surroundings a cool blue with bright lighting. This is a fresh change from the usual splatter fests filled with red after a certain point in the movie.
That’s not to say that J.P. Simon doesn’t include any gore. Like any horror flick from the 70s to the mid-90s, The Rift has its fair share of heads exploding and human beings transforming into seaweed. Overall, it might not be award-winning high art, but it contains a unique charisma that draws in a large viewership by being consistently entertaining.
Dust Devil (1992)
Nicknamed by the locals as Dust Devil, a shape shifter arrives from the desert in search of his victims. His primary targets are those that are unloved and have lost everything in life. Wendy, who has ended her relationship with her husband, is driving around aimlessly when she gives a stranger a lift.
All hell breaks loose when simultaneously a police officer is seen tracking down a killer. Warned by a shaman of the dangers of witchcraft, the police officer decides to catch hold of the Dust Devil before he can create more havoc than he already has.
Stanley Richards returns like the mind-blowing filmmaker he is with an extremely enigmatic blend of splatter fest and spaghetti western arthouse. Although this movie doesn’t exactly qualify under the sci-fi genre, it is an instant cult classic highly recommended for everyone to watch. It is uniquely styled with Richards’ flavour.
He incorporates political and social preoccupations within the film, juxtaposing the magic with the materialism of South African politics. This provides the audience with more than enough thrills, action, and horror to look forward to as the Dust Devil searches for his next vulnerable prey.
The film’s opening sequence leaves viewers speechless as they enter a world of mysticism and ritual sacrifice. Dust Devil contains a non-linear storyline that focuses more on the atmosphere than the momentum in which the narrative progresses.
Moreover, its tone is constantly shifting between a mysterious dream-like surrounding to incomprehensible reality. Overall, this incredible masterpiece by Stanley Richards is worth a watch. Although its credibility as a sci-fi is questionable, the element of horror remains.
The Puppet Master (1994)
A man running a secret CIA facility investigates a strange flying saucer landing in the rural areas of Iowa with his agents Sam and Jarvis. They are also accompanied by a biology specialist Dr. Mary Sefton.
They discover that aliens have landed on Earth and will use their telepathic powers to control everyone and take over the planet. These extra-terrestrials are slug-like creatures who attach themselves to people’s backs and begin controlling their nervous system.
Stuart Orme’s The Puppet Masters, based on Robert A. Heinlein’s work, is a stylish production that will remind you of an X-Files episode. This film relies on good storytelling to build up the tension instead of distracting with props like spaceships or laser guns. Its overall atmosphere is down-to-Earth.
Its focus remains on paranoia caused by the slimy creatures. These monstrosities are built courtesy of their special effects. It is evident that Orme and his team put a lot of thought and imagination into designing the little guys and their internal systems.
Although The Puppet Master has some repetitive elements, Orme cleverly capitalizes on its gripping moments as more townsfolk become hosts of the parasite slugs. It might appear to be a tad schlocky, but it is overtly entertaining if one keeps an open mind and is in the mood for some cheese. It is action-packed, portraying cool stunts and more creepy tentacles than anyone would like to see.
Village of the Damned (1995)
Ten women find themselves pregnant after a mysterious blackout in Midwich, California. Strangely enough the lot also contains a virgin girl and a woman who has not been sexually active in a long time making these pregnancies rather strange. They decide to keep the babies.
The children are all born in a barn at the same time. The children grow up at an alarmingly fast rate, and their parents begin to notice peculiar traits within them like a lack of conscience or individual personality. Moreover, the children contain eerie psychic abilities that sometimes end very violently and with severe consequences.
John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned presents an out-of-the-ordinary classic before viewers. Not only does it have a creative storyline based on John Wyndham’s book The Midwich Cuckoos, but it also combines several human themes together to present a very sci-fi/horror plotline.
Although the first half is already fast paced, once the children become sentient and show their traits, that’s when the movie’s real thrills begin.
Carpenter’s brilliant capability in instilling suspense with a social commentary makes this movie a rather engaging horror watch. It depicts how people in general and children in specific are developing an indifference towards violence as they are growing older.