Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Top 21 Horror Scifi Films of All Time! Part 1

Trying hard to find somethings to post as I get back to work on other projects, I was skimming the stats for this blog. One of the most popular posts I have done was my list of the best tentacle films. As of this post, that list has reached over 2300 views from around the world.

It gave me the idea to do another movie list. This one is the top 21 SciFi Horror films. Horror and SF so easily go together. New ideas, aliens and advancing technology can so easily get out of control and become frightening. This genre moves from the dark and atmospheric to the campy and ridiculous. But as I have said numerous times before, just because a movie is bad, doesn't mean it isn't any good.
Read on after the jump for part 1 of my list. Movies 21-15, starting with one of the most ridiculous horror films of all time:



#21 - Killer Klowns from Outer Space
This is one of my all time favorites. It dives in knowing full well how low budget and campy it is. In fact, it tries hard to be as campy as possible. All logic is quickly thrown out the window when a race of evil aliens who just happen to look like circus clowns land on earth. This is slapstick horror at its finest, and though its violence is rather toned down, it might still be unsettling for anyone who isn't a huge fan of clowns. But can protagonist Mike Tobacco (yes that's his name) stop the titular "Klowns" from wrapping the town's citizens in cotton candy and feeding on them? Probably.
Despite its age and camp, this film has gained a huge cult (or is that kult) following and makes it easy to find if you fancy a viewing.


#20 - The Faculty
Let's face it, high school sucks. If it didn't we couldn't fill entire tv channels with weepy teen dramas. No one liked high school, if they say they did, they are probably deeply in denial. I am pretty sure it is a requirement of healthy adult life to have had a crappy time in high school. But wouldn't it have been so much worse if you found out your teachers were actually the start of an alien invasion force?
No, this isn't the new pitch for a lame series on the CW. It is the basic premise of The Faculty, a less than stellar, but enjoyable SF Horror flick that came out of the late 90s. It wasn't as well received however, due to many seeing it as blatant rip-off or hodge-podge of old ideas from much better films. Really this film accomplishes what it set out to do, be entertaining. It is simply Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the Scream crowd. Sometimes, that is enough. And unlike Klowns, above, or most teen-focused horror outings these days, it earns its R rating with good ol' monster splattering violence. With my soft-spot for Elijah Wood, a decent soundtrack, lovecraftian beasties, and a rather humorous, self referential scripts, this is certainly a go to movie for fun, splattery 90s SF-Horror fare.


#19 - Event Horizon
Another, not so well received film, Event Horizon is a creepy little film. It has the big budget of any decent studio-backed SF of the 90s, but it's dark and atmospheric. Though it did poorly in the box office, it succeeded rather well after home release. When I was in middle school, this was the go to gross out horror film for a while. It doesn't hold back on the violence and gore as its intricate SF plot winds around every unexpected corner. In fact, though complicated, its plot is actually good. Something no one expects from Paul W. S. Anderson (but then this would be his only good film until he tried to remake it in the form of Pandorum 12 years later). The science in this "science" fiction can be a bit absurd at time, but it rarely takes from the story as very quickly it goes from a world of science and technology to the horrifyingly supernatural. It certainly suffers from some problems and perhaps could have been much better. Supposedly the final film is a third re-edit, which was much less intense than the first two shown to test audiences. But somehow this film has become iconic to me. It is automatically what I think of when I think Horror-SciFi, perhaps because it blends the elements I think of when I think of SF (space travel and big starships) and the stuff I think of when I think of horror movies (gore, creepy atmosphere, and scenes of supernatural terror). Probably the only thing that could be more defining would be some supernatural lovecratian demon, loosed on an unprepared starship.


#18 - Species
This is film that I tossed back and forth whether or not to add to this list at all. To be honest, I don't care that much for the film, but it is just as important as the last two were for defining SFH (science fiction horror) for the 90s. Species is more scifi than horror and had it been made 20 years later would be fodder for SyFy on a Sunday evening (much of where it's lower budget sequels would end up). I can see that it skirts the horror genre as the femme fatale alien takes out unsuspecting men like a serial killer. So by now, you have to be asking what would put this on my list at all if I don't like the film. One thing. Sil. That's right, the alien at the center of the story. And no, before you think it, it is not some hormonal boy thing (though when I first saw the film in middle school it probably would have been). In fact, it's not the human Sil I am talking about, it is the horrific thing she becomes towards the climax of the film. Designed by H. R. Giger, the nightmarish Sil is lithe and beautiful and yet disgustingly frightening. It is the design and anamatronic (yes this was before low-budget CG) implementation of this devilish beauty that makes this movie not just worth watching, but worth putting on this list.


#17 - Night of the Creeps
From a few attempts at actual scare-fests we return to the world of camp. And I have to say, I adore this
movie. It is one I love to pull out and show to friends who have never seen it. It works well for fans of invasion films, zombie movies, or really stupid teen horror films of the 80s. This movie is hilarious. It has some of the best lines ever uttered in a bad 80s movie.
Two idiotic frat pledges accidently unleash an alien plague when they steal a body from a medical research lab. The parasitic plague spreads through the college town, turning its hosts into ravenous zombies. Along side Night of the Comet and Fight Night, this is one of the best B-movies to come out of the mid-80s. And shouldn't be missed by anyone looking for a great laugh.
(Note: there are certainly funnier and better made zombie films out there, Dead Alive being my favorite, but this one I thought better fit the SFH topic.)


#16 - Cabin in the Woods
This is the most contemporary of any entry on this list. I would say it was the film that inspired me to make this list, but that isn't true. In fact I forgot about this film for a while until halfway through making my final list (yes I am nerdy enough to have narrowed and numbered this list down from 36 films to just 21). When I first saw this film, it wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was living overseas and had seen no advertising or trailers for it. I knew that Joss Whedon had some effort behind it, and that it wasn't your typical forested horror film. What I saw when I finally watched it was amazing. This is perhaps one of the most clever horror films I have seen in a long time. I don't want to give too much away, as I want you to see it, but that sucks because it's really the ending I want to talk about. This film is certainly SF as the characters, chosen for how similar they are to teen horror film archetypes, find themselves in a scientifically planned horror setting. But they aren't just the target of a sadistic killer, they are actually being watched by a much bigger audience. This film is gruesomely gory and fantastically self referential. I am not sure I have seen a film, outside of a parody, that has poked so much fun at its own genre.
Trying my best to avoid spoilers, I really wished the ending was a bit better. It was really cool, but I just felt the film was leading up to something much more epic and lovecraftian. But what a fun ride either way. And a great new addition to this genre.


#15 - From Beyond
The final entry in part 1 of my list is a film that is both creepy and humorous. Fittingly enough it is based on the next story we are covering in Lovecraft 101. From Beyond is campy and strange. From the creators of Re-Animator and based on one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, this film is really hard to describe to someone who hasn't seen it. I am not sure what draws me to it more, the campy horror, the unsettling scifi story, or the hilariously strange character acting of Jeffrey Combs.
From Beyond is about an esoteric scientist who has found that there are dimensions beyond those we experience in daily life. Within those hidden dimensions are strange unseen creatures. But diving too deep into this new science may be more than the human mind can actually bear. Especially when an a much more immense power is found deep within the hidden realms.
This film was actually one of the reasons I really got into Lovecraft. I had read many of his stories when I was young, but it was the strange way Stuart Gordon adapted it into this ridiculous gore-fest that really drew my young attention ( I would of course approach HPL much more maturely and scholarly later on in life).
If you don't shy away from B-movie acting and low budget over-the-top gore I would recommend you see this film. Hell, even if you have seen this film before, watch it again! Watch it right now!
If you live in the US you can even watch it for free at hulu.com.

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