I was wandering around my Netflix queue and all the recommendations that they had for me, when this topic came to mind: how many Science Fiction Thrillers are there? And of those, how many would I actually recommend? And so I committed fingers to the keyboard and produced the list below.
Just a quick word, I say Thrillers, but I originally wanted to say horror. Finding honest-to-goodness science fiction horror can be a chore. Finding good science fiction horror can be even harder. Many of the movies on these lists (I’d peg at least 7 of them) are actual sci fi horror. With a few of them, the horror might be a little weak, but the feeling of suspense and dread are strong enough that I wanted to keep them here. So I went with calling this a sci fi thriller list.
Call ’em whatever you want, but if you like you like your science fiction with a dark tint and foreboding atmosphere, then you should find a few goodies below. More to follow tomorrow.
Enjoy (I sure did)!
Cube is the natural evolution of the haunted house story into the science fiction realm. A group of strangers awaken in a square room, having been abducted seemingly at random from their lives. The room moves at regular intervals, but they don’t know where. On every side is a portal that leads to another room of equal dimensions and inscribed on each side of the portal doors is a mathematical sequence that determines whether or not the rooms are safe.
Safe? Oh yes, because most of these other cubed rooms will kill you. Save for those few safe rooms, each is booby-trapped with new and inventive ways eliminate any one who steps inside. The problem is that the strangers don’t realize any of this, they have to figure it out as they go while trying desperately to escape.
It would have been easy to sit back and let the body count take care of the movie, but Cube doesn’t rest on those laurels, slowly but surely the characters become paranoid and stressed and eventually being working against each other. And the ending? Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Oh, a word of warning, there were two other Cube movies made after this one: Cube: Hyperspace and Cube Zero. Avoid these. Oh, they’re horrific, all right…but in a totally different sense of the word. You’ve been warned.
Here’s one of those movies that surprised me. Left to my own devices, I’m not much of a zombie fan. They scare the pants off me. So when I went to see this movie, fully expecting a zombie tale, I was stepping way outside of my own box. In a strict “zombies are the living dead” sense, this is not a zombie tale, but it does feature people infected with a virus that induces “rage” to the point that they may as well be zombies. This is a post-apocalyptic that will keep you glued to your screen and, more than a few times, holding your breath. Oh, and as you’ll be checking this one on DVD, watch the alternative endings after the film is over. Good stuff in there for all kinds of reasons.
The film version of Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers has been done (1956), redone (1978), re-redone (1993), and done again (2007). Of all of those films, I feel the 1978 version stands above the rest*. The story here is that people are being replaced by alien counterfeits. These counterfeits are grown in a seed pod and kill off the original person. The trick here is that you have to fall asleep in order for the pods to have a chance to work. A group of people attempt to hide from the clones (or pod people) who are working together to spread more pods while also attempting not to fall asleep.
Now, we’re all smart people here, right? So you can see that it won’t take long for fear and paranoia to take hold of these people who are watching humanity erode around them while not getting any rest. It’s one thing to show that happening, but this film makes you feel as though it’s happening. There’s a tension stemming from the feeling that things really aren’t going to be okay. And given the way this film ends, well…
This is not only one of my favorite Sci Fi films, it’s one of my favorite films period. John Murdoch awakens in a hotel room with no memory of who he is or how he came to be in the room. He receives a phone call telling him to flee, finds a dead woman, and is soon on the run from the police who want him on charges of murder. Sounds straight-forward, right? It isn’t. The city is stuck in a perpetual night and John notices that people lapse into a very deep sleep at the stroke of midnight. En mass, people begin assuming different personalities and identities, assigned to them by The Strangers, a group of people who have an eerie control over everyone and everything in the city. To make matters worse, it appears The Strangers have a particular interest in finding John and have dedicated one from their ranks to bringing him in.
Plenty of science fiction films deal with alien interference in and manipulation of human lives, but Dark City manages to blend telling an entertaining story with telling an interesting story. I could go on and on about this one, but it’s best if you rent the film and see for yourself.
The Event Horizon, a prized space ship carrying a secretive new engine drive type, went missing years ago only to appear in orbit around Neptune. That new engine, the gravity drive, was supposed to open up a controlled black hole to warp space and reduce travel times to the furthest regions of space. It’s expensive technology, but the crew does not appear to be responding (or even there at all), so a rescue ship is dispatched to retrieve the ship and bring it home. As you can guess, things don’t go smoothly.
This is a haunted house story in space. The Event Horizon is a bad ship, having returned from a place it was never supposed to go but seems to desperately wish to return to. There are plenty of scenes in this film to creep you out, but I’d single out the bathroom scene with Sam Neill’s character and his wife’s ghost as one of the creepier ones. Not for any amount of gore, but for the psychological game that the ship is playing at that point. It’s dark, friends, real dark.
Part 2 is on tap for tomorrow…
*Though in the case of the 1956 version, we’re only talking a matter of inches here.