Last week I wrote an article expressing my displeasure with the IMDb rating system, which allows popular new releases to overshadow and replace many classic films on the Top 250 list—formerly a reliable guide for determining the most timeless and high-quality movies ever made. In keeping with the sci-fi/horror theme of my website, I decided to compile ten more science fiction offerings that should be ranked among the greatest films of all time.
10) The Fly (1958)
After building a disintegrator-integrator mechanism, a scientist named Andre teleports himself from one chamber to another—with a horrifying outcome. Concealing the monster until the final act, The Fly preys on fear of the unknown to generate suspense. In addition to blending sci-fi concepts with horror devices of a subtle variety, this film should be commended for its tragic undertones, terrifying insect faces, and realistic human drama—all reasons why The Fly deserves a place on the IMDb Top 250, dated special effects notwithstanding.
See also: Return of the Fly, Curse of the Fly, and The Wasp Woman
9) The Invisible Man (1933)
Becoming invisible after experimenting with monocane, chemist Jack Griffin begins a killing spree with the aid of his former assistant. A chilling mad scientist offering, The Invisible Man provides a sci-fi twist on Plato’s “The Ring of Gyges” tale—a lesson on how decent, moral human beings can become evil when freed of consequences. Also worth mentioning is the maniacal voice of Claude Rains, whose performance elevates The Invisible Man to the status of a sci-fi/horror masterpiece.
See also: The Invisible Ray, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman, Invisible Agent, and The Invisible Man’s Revenge
8) The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Awakened by a nuclear bomb test, a Rhedosaurus begins terrorizing the North Atlantic and later New York City. Likely the first creature feature to employ nuclear testing as a plot device, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms should be noted for its profound influence on the science fiction genre. Also exceptional are the special effects of Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion animation gives the Rhedosaurus a lifelike range of movement—another reason why this atomic age monster movie belongs in the IMDb Top 250.
See also: It Came from Beneath the Sea, 20 Million Miles to Earth, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
7) Godzilla (1954)
After a prehistoric creature named Godzilla arrives in Tokyo, a conflicted scientist must decide whether to use a dangerous, top-secret invention in order to defeat the monster. Influenced by The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, this classic kaiju film contains a haunting, impactful statement on a potential nuclear holocaust. Godzilla (or Gojira in Japanese) therefore earns its standing as one of the greatest sci-fi monster movies of all time, even when considering the technical limitations of the original rubber costume.
See also: Mothra, Rodan, and Varan the Unbelievable
6) Fantastic Voyage (1966)
To save the life of a wounded scientist, several people are shrunken to microscopic size, placed in a small submarine, and injected into the scientist’s bloodstream. Showcasing a variety of surreal, imaginative special effects, Fantastic Voyage takes the viewer on a detailed and captivating journey through the human body. This classic sci-fi/adventure film also benefits from a compelling human conflict, a claustrophobic atmosphere, and a number of exciting plot twists—all of which compensate for occasional scientific/biological inaccuracies.
See also: Innerspace, The Atomic Submarine, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
5) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Searching for fossils along the Amazon River, a scientific research team discovers an amphibious humanoid in the legendary Black Lagoon. A sci-fi monster movie with a thought-provoking message, Creature from the Black Lagoon draws attention to human callousness toward nature/wildlife—including species of a unique or endangered variety. This Universal Monster offering should also be praised for its spooky atmosphere, menacing but sympathetic creature, and iconic entrance music for the Gill-Man—reminiscent of the Jaws theme by John Williams.
See also: Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us
4) Them! (1954)
Mutated by the atomic bomb tests of 1945, several giant, hostile ants begin wreaking havoc on a small New Mexico community. The precursor of Aliens, Them! deserves praise for its creepy tension, anti-nuclear messages, and rousing battle sequences between the human characters and their “ant”agonists. Though dated by moving prop effects, this classic giant insect feature earns a place on the IMDB Top 250.
See also: Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis, and Empire of the Ants
3) The Fly (1986)
After inventing a telepod, eccentric genius Seth Brundle transforms into a man/fly hybrid due to a horrible malfunction with the device. The quintessential David Cronenberg offering, The Fly combines sci-fi/body horror tropes with a narrative metaphor on the dying process. Other aspects worth noting include the physical performance of Jeff Goldblum, the award-winning makeup of Chris Walas, and the operatic score of composer Howard Shore—all significant improvements over the 1958 version mentioned earlier. (Viewers should be warned, however, that the remake of The Fly, though technically accomplished, often relies on copious gore over slow-building suspense—quite unlike the original version directed by Kurt Neumann.)
See also: The Fly II, The Thing (1982), and The Blob (1988)
2) The Time Machine (1960)
Upon traveling to the year 802,701, an inventor discovers that the human race has bifurcated into two distinct species: the gentle, surface-dwelling Eloi and the cannibalistic Morlocks who live underground. Introducing a Cold War twist on the novel by H. G. Wells, The Time Machine is a sci-fi classic worthy of a spot on the IMDb Top 250 list. Specifically, this modern adaptation implies that the divergence in human evolution, though observed eight hundred thousand years from the present date, is the result of a nuclear war occurring in the 20th century—much in contrast to the original story, which attributes the emergence of Eloi and Morlocks to class distinction alone.
See also: Time After Time, World Without End, and The Time Machine (2002)
1) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Noting a series of bizarre reports from his patients, a medical doctor discovers that alien imposters (known colloquially as “pod people”) are replacing the local residents with exact duplicates. Coupling a claustrophobic small-town setting with a subtle condemnation of McCarthyism/communism, Invasion of the Body Snatchers earns its reputation as the greatest alien invasion film of the 1950s. Though arguably less relatable to modern audiences than its 1978 remake, this sci-fi/horror classic deserves a place on the IMDb Top 250.
See also: The Thing from Another World and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
What other science fiction films belong in the IMDb Top 250? Share your own selections in the comment section.
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