The synthesis of the genres sci-fi and horror is a match made in heaven! While horror pretty much complements all other genres, there is something special about sci-fi that brings out the best in horror flicks. The domain is widened with the inclusion of various unknown entities such as creatures from other dimensions, dystopian nightmares, experiments gone wrong, body horror, and various others. In this video, we have compiled a list of some stunning sci-fi horror movies that can be the perfect companion for a movie marathon this Halloween!
Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)
The Arboria Institute is a state-of-the-art research institute where a prominent psychiatrist is curious about their latest female patient. She seems to have certain telekinetic and telepathic abilities, and the demented doctor is looking to unravel the mystery behind her powers. He keeps her heavily sedated so that she is always in a catatonic state, but even with all his efforts, he cannot seem to fathom her unique abilities. Does he have some deep intentions behind the research? Things slowly unfold as she tries to escape the institution even in her sedated state!
Let us start off by saying that this movie is not everyone’s cup of tea! It isn’t like the conventional sci-fi entertainers and has a somewhat long and slow plot. However, every scene is in perfect reference to the steady plot that explores some weird concepts. The aesthetics of this film are praise-worthy, and the atmospheric horror will be loved by the patient viewers.
This careful piece of work involves some viscerally creepy characters that have been well-performed by the likes of Michael J Rogers and Eva Bourne. The cinematography is spot-on, and the movie has one of the scariest scenes that you will ever see! If you are seeking quick thrills, this movie will disappoint you. But if you are ready to embrace the brilliance of this slow-paced science fiction, you are in for a real treat!
The Hidden (1987)
There is a sudden spurt in the crime spree in Los Angeles where normal law-abiding people are suddenly showing signs of unexplained violence. An FBI Agent and a local cop investigating the case find out that an alien parasite is behind the crimes. It can possess human bodies and is instrumental in the murders and robberies taking place. They slowly close in on the vicious intruder, but time is running out as the city faces a threat like never before!
This movie is often dubbed as a run-of-the-mill B-grade sci-fi horror thriller that seeks to excite with a high body count. The judgment might be partially true, but it still ranks among the most intense films in this genre. With a plot that has been used multiple times, the movie banks on the carefully drawn-up characters and their chemistry. The scenes that show normal people being transformed into murderous machines are absolute nail-biters.
We have some remarkable acting performances by Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri to make things even better. This movie has a wonderful balance of creepy scenes and funny moments that make for a great experience. There is a fair amount of blood and gore, but nothing that a fan of such movies can’t handle! In fact, there is something interesting about the way the movie tells you the exact body count.
For instance, in the first scene where five killings take place, the camera points to a mark that says 5th Street. For all such moments, it is either the elevator floor selected or the hospital room number that tells you about the body count! In a nutshell, this movie has deservingly got itself to the status of a cult-classic and is a must-watch if you want some quick-fire entertainment.
Dark Star (1974)
Dark Star is a spaceship that is sent for a solitary mission into the extreme reaches of space. It is tasked with the job of destroying planets that come in the way of the navigation routes to clear the path. However, the ship’s computer soon starts to malfunction after a few mishaps. Things start to go hilariously wrong as the Bomb can no longer be persuaded to obey human commands!
This movie is a true definition of sci-fi horror as it toys with concepts like malfunctioning technology, illogical solutions to self-inflicted conflicts, and above all, the ambiance of isolation in space. It is believed that John Carpenter worked on the concept when he was in college, and later a distributor provided him the chance to expand it to feature film length.
We often ponder over our status in this infinite universe, and this movie serves as a spoof of man’s uninformed view of his importance. It promises a hilarious journey that will make you laugh till you drop off your chairs. Dan O’Bannon, who was the writer for this movie also worked as the screenwriter in Alien.
You can clearly see the inspirations, especially in the scene with the beach ball alien. The effects are just about decent, but you can’t really complain, considering the times! Dark Star is a unique sci-fi horror with a funny bone that gives a brief hint at the excellence of John Carpenter in times to come!
Don’t we all love stories that pick up right out of nowhere! In this case, the plot cuts straight to six strangers who wake up to find themselves imprisoned in a giant cubical maze. There are thousands of possible rooms and deadly traps that guard them. However, each one of the people has some unique skills that help them to work together and find an escape route. They will also discover why they were imprisoned in the first place!
Cube shows the kind of wonders that can be worked even with a low budget. The movie is exceedingly freaky and goes about exploring human nature and the urge for survival. The film would be best-enjoyed if the mystery isn’t given away, but we can tell you this much that it is hauntingly disturbing.
You will be exposed to the ugly side of humanity, and it will be a thought-provoking journey. The character-driven plot is managed by a cast full of unknown artists, but they pull off the challenging task. The first hour is particularly engrossing as you figure out the surprises and complexities. With time, however, the complexities become a bit too difficult, and you can just sit back and watch the characters make sense of it.
Many of the shots were completed with hand-held cameras, and the lack of extravagant effects meant that there was just one cube that worked as the set. It was changed to various colors by gel panels, and the makers had to bear with this time-consuming procedure. The climax could have been better, but with such a complete package and all the thrills on offer, we are not complaining!
The Lathe of Heaven (1980)
Imagine if your dreams had the power of altering reality! In this movie, the protagonist George Orr is a man whose dreams affect reality. He tries to control this unique gift, and his psychiatrist, Dr. Haber, eventually discovers that this gift is actually real. He tries to change reality through George’s dreams, but the results turn out to be bizarre and frightening.
There is a clear motto of this film: Be Careful of what you dream about! The movie takes a very interesting premise and carves a plot that involves some deep philosophical questions. It is an adaptation of the famous novel by Ursula K. LeGuin, and those who admired the novel wouldn’t be disappointed. The tension and conflict in the story keep you on the edge of your seats. There are some intriguing characters, especially the doctor who has the right intentions but ends up in the wrong.
It is a lesson on how we can do nothing to control nature’s forces! The creative direction makes the best out of an amazing story, and you have some interesting special effects to keep you company. Even the electronic background music seems just right for the ambiance. Bruce Davison and Kevin Conway have acted out of their skin to ace their roles in this movie. If a movie drives you to ponder over important questions such as what is real, you know that it is a job well done!
The Fury (1978)
A secret US agency is looking to use the powers of psychic young children and train them to help their cause in war situations. Peter is a secret agent whose son has some psychic gifts that get him kidnapped by the agency. His son is officially declared after an arranged accident, and Peter keeps looking for him, suspecting foul play. On the other hand, the young teenager with psychic powers turns into a short-tempered egomaniac, and Peter doesn’t have much time on his hands to set things right again!
This movie is a psychological sci-fi horror flick that will remind you of the attempts by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. The director Brian De Palma has done some amazing work over the years, and this is probably one of his most underrated works. It is a fast-paced thriller with shades of espionage suspense that makes it a heart-thumping narrative.
The tense situations soon culminate into blistering action sequences, and the movie has a bit of something for every kind of movie-buff. Be prepared for all the graphic violence that the movie nonchalantly hands out to you. A special word of praise goes out for the work on special effects and make-up that makes the scenes stand out! The experienced Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes as the baddie steal the show with their outstanding work! If you have the nerves, sit tight and enjoy as the fun unfolds!
The Sender (1982)
A young man has some telepathic powers that he is unable to control properly. He is disturbed and attempts suicide at a public beach. Following this, he is admitted to a mental hospital with no memory whatsoever. However, the doctor in charge of him soon discovers his special abilities. She makes the terrifying connection between the things that she is seeing and the young man. When she tries to help him, his mother seems to be getting in the way!
Quentin Tarantino has gone on record to say that this is one of his favorite horror flicks, and that is some compliment for a movie! The more you watch this underrated gem, the more you would wonder how this isn’t more famous! The plot has the perfect mix of reality and hallucinations that make for a haunting narrative. You might not get the expected bloodshed and gore, but the movie never falls short of creating tension in the viewer.
There are some unforgettable scenes, such as the one where an Etc machine is switched on, and an entire operating room is seen to erupt in a slow-motion explosion. The makers paid attention to detail, as is evident from the accuracy of the scenes in the mental hospital. All these efforts are complemented by the performances of Zeljko Ivanek and Shirley Knight. We won’t give away the climax, but it is the most shocking thing that you would have seen in a long time!
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
A public health inspector in San Francisco is curious when a co-worker brings to his notice about the sudden changes in her husband. Upon further investigation, they discover that humans are being replaced by their exact copies that are completely emotionless and unstoppable. Behind this strange occurrence are some strange seeds that have drifted to Earth from space. These are the body snatchers that must be stopped before it is too late.
When a remake of a timeless classic takes place, everyone is intrigued as to how it would perform! This movie puts all concerns to rest and stays true to the original 1950s version that redefined horror back in the day. The director Philip Kaufman has shown his skills with some gritty camerawork and perfect exhibition of the emotions of the characters.
The plot is carefully cocooned between the development of fear over a biological invasion and some old fashioned chase sequences! The suspense is ripe, and actors like Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams deliver the goods with some impeccable performances. Besides the thrill of the plot, the socio-political resonance will also appeal to some viewers.
It is more like a battle between the minority and the majority, or individualism versus conformity. This is a great example of how to retain the true essence of a horror classic while crafting a remake! Later on, another version of this movie was made starring Nicole Kidman, but we strongly prefer this one over the latter version.
It is the story of time-travel gone wrong where a man named Hector accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back around an hour. To his horror, he realizes that he is caught in a loop of disasters waiting to happen. It all started when Hector was scanning the forests behind his house with his binocular. He spotted a young woman taking off her clothes, and on further snooping, he found her naked and unconscious in the forest.
Suddenly, a strange man covered in bandages stabs him in the arm, and it becomes an exercise to get away from this dangerous psycho. The key to getting away, however, rests in a large mechanical device, which is a time machine. This film is the perfect example of how a well-made movie requires just the right story and good writing to excel.
In the absence of extravagant special effects, expensive sets, and extreme violence, the movie still delivers the thrills with a plot that is set to amaze you! In a very intelligent script, the hero finds himself trapped in a time continuum where the conditions keep deteriorating while he tries to come up with a solution. The plot highlights the dire consequences of toying with time continuum.
This film is mathematically perfect as every little detail has a distinct meaning and fits the puzzle. When it comes to the acting performances, Karra Elejalde is fabulous as the protagonist. The sets are actually realistic environments that give an eerie vibe. The editing is just perfect, as is the direction that has to take up the challenge of moving the story forward and backward with ease. This is time travel with a hint of horror, the perfect combo for the sci-fi horror genre!
A Cure for Wellness (2017)
A young executive is assigned the task of retrieving the CEO of his company from a mysterious spa in Switzerland. He arrives to find something fishy about the activities of the spa. The miraculous treatments that are carried out seem to be different from what they are on the surface. As the executive uncovers the sinister reality behind the spa, he too is diagnosed with the strange illness that keeps everyone in the spa longing for the cure! Can he retain his sanity and make his way out?
A Cure for Wellness does not deserve some of the harsh criticism that has come its way. It is a visually appealing sci-fi horror with a disturbing setting. The eerie atmosphere is complemented by the strange plot, and had it not been for the convoluted screenplay, this movie would have been flawless. The cinematography is too good to be true, with the spine-chilling atmosphere glorified in every scene. The viewer must wait patiently for all the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place, and you won’t get any quick-fire action on this one.
The references to Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump get cringe-worthy at times, but overall the entertainment is spot-on. Gore Verbinski is no stranger to dishing out horror gems as he has previously worked in the first Ring movie and also classics like Pirates of the Caribbean. This gothic psychological thriller is designed to keep you on the edge of your seats for the entire duration. At times the going gets a bit absurd, but if you sit through that, you are in for a unique experience!
The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)
The zombie genre never gets old, no matter how many movies come our way! This film tells the story of a dystopian future where a strange fungal disease has ravaged humanity. The affected individuals have turned into flesh-eating monsters, and the hopes of mankind rest on a group of hybrid children who have retained their ability to think and feel. They are subjected to cruel experiments at an army base where they are held, but when the base is under attack, they must survive on their own, using their special gifts!
This movie sets the tone right from the opening sequence, where we are introduced to the special child, Melanie. She comes across as innocent and harmless, but something about her has her captors worrying. There are some very disturbing scenes, such as the one with Dr. Caroline describes a horrifying incident in the maternity ward. The director works his miracles with a low budget, and visually the film looks great.
The movie strikes a chord with the audience all the more for the soulful performance by Gemma Arterton as the protective and caring psychologist to Melanie. Sennia Nanua is a perfect fit for the role of Melanie, the special child. The special mention must be made of the incredible, amorphous soundtrack that is oppressive and atmospheric in equal measures. If you are tired of watching the same old zombie-flicks, this one is a gift that you will enjoy!
Phase IV (1974)
The beauty of sci-fi horror is that threats spring up from nowhere! In this case, it comes via a group of desert ants that form a collective intelligence. These ants start attacking the inhabitants, and the only hope rests with a stray girl who was rescued from the ants. Two scientists, along with her, must devise a plan to destroy the marauding ants.
It is okay if the plot strikes you as strange because it did the same to us as well! However, if you patiently go through the strange suspenseful journey, you have a winner at hand. Phase IV has a unique storyline that provides ample thrilling moments to compensate for the lack of action. Free from all kinds of gimmicks, this movie is simply plot-driven and atmosphere-driven, and the makers have excelled on both grounds.
The modern viewer might be put off by the slow-paced narrative, but we find it to be compelling stuff! The photography and special effects for the ants are flawless, which makes the weirdest of scenes realistic. You would expect nothing less when Saul Bass is in charge of the proceedings! Scenes, where the massive ant colonies attack local farmers and livestock, are chilling to the core! In a nutshell, this is a masterpiece that you wouldn’t want to skip, especially with Halloween coming up the corner!