Genre Blenders: Jacob's five favorite Science Fiction / Horror films
Science Fiction and Horror have come as a package deal since the very beginning of filmmaking, and to great effect, too. In the early days of movie history "science" was as scary a word as "boo," and so it's only natural some of Hollywood's best blends of the two genres come early in its history.
That's not to say we haven't seen some late, great pushes, but this is my list and you can make your own list on your own movie website. Here are my five favorite Sci-Fi / Horror films, from fifth to first. Hold onto your butts.
5. The Invisible Man (1933)
James Whale, the director of "The Invisible Man" shows up three (3) times on this list, all between 1931 and 1935. Turns out the dude could direct the shit out of a horror film, huh? This hits on the mad scientist paranoia that swept through many of Universal's classic monster films (and you'll find it abundant on this list) but in a much more sinister way.
What makes "The Invisible Man" so frightening is its dark tone and shockingly high body count. It may do its dirty work from a distance, but make no mistake: this is the darkest of Universal's monster movies. Mix that in with special effects that hold up remarkably well for a movie that's nearing its 90th birthday and you've got an all-time classic.
4. Frankenstein (1931)
In many ways we have "Frankenstein" to thank for the popularity of the horror genre (though certainly not the invention of it). The film works as horror, science fiction and drama because its characters, while misguided, are sympathetic. That goes from Dr. Frankenstein down to The Monster.
The humanity of the film is found in the man brought back to life, which makes this a fundamentally sci-fi experience. While this isn't going to scare a hardened teenager, many of the fears present in this film carry over into what society faces today. In some ways that's almost as scary as anything the film presents itself.
3. The Thing (1982)
No one dares accuse John Carpenter of subtlety, nor should they. One of the greatest examples of genre blending of all time, "The Thing" is haunting, horrific and a bold piece of science fiction. It's a little campy, but it also presents alien visitation in a bolder, more horrific way than shown on screen in the past.
Imagine "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," but you don't get to sleep for a week after. That's "The Thing." Despite the gore and horror, it doesn't lose any of its subtext. Carpenter often loses the forest for the trees in his films (hi, "Halloween!") but that's decidedly not the case in "The Thing." Whether that's because of good fortune or good directing ... well, we'll never know.
2. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Sequels ruin everything! Except when they don't. Whale got back in the director's chair for a stunningly good sequel in "The Bride of Frankenstein," a film that stands up as one of the greatest ever made. This isn't just good horror or good science fiction: this is a perfect film. It gets deeper into exploring what makes us human by focusing more on the character development of a reanimated corpse.
Somehow that works! In 1935! Go watch this movie!
1. Alien (1979)
At some point (probably immediately after this film) Ridley Scott lost his way when it came to this franchise, but my goodness what a beginning. Alien is taught, terrifying and holy shit the special effects Stan Winston and company came up with for this film are amazing. This is, by my estimation, as good a blend of these two genres as we're ever going to get; though I'd love to be proven wrong.
Where future films in the franchise up the gore (hi Ridley!) or the action (hi James Cameron!), the original movie is happy to use tension to create a phenomenal horror picture. It works as a science fiction film, as do all the films that follow, but this is the best horror movie of the bunch thanks to Scott's pronounced restraint.