When I was a kid we went to the drive-in movie every Saturday night. Usually we loaded up in the back of a neighbor’s pick-up truck and hoped there was a horror movie or sci-fi movie showing. I especially liked the vampire movies, the werewolf movies (things haven’t changed much), King Kong, Mighty Joe Young (another gorilla), and all of the Japanese monsters.
There is no way to list, or remember all of the Sci-fi movies that I have seen. Some I really enjoyed and others were just a way to pass the time. I have listed here only a few of the ones that I can remember. Maybe some of your favorites are here.
It Came from Outer Space (1953)
It Came from Outer Space, made in 1953, was Universal’s first film made in 3-D. It starred Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush.
What the people of Sand Rock, Arizona believe to have been a meteorite crash, actually turns out to be an alien spaceship crash, and it seems that some of the good people of Sand Rock are beginning to disappear. When some do return, they are not quite themselves. But all is not lost. It ends up that the aliens are benign beings whose spacecraft crashed because of malfunctioning components. They planned to stay on Earth long enough to replace the parts, then continue their voyage. They temporarily took control of a few humans since they looked so different than humans and could not move about inconspicuously, since humans would panic. When they finally repair their ship and leave, all of the missing and controlled townspeople returned to normal.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 – remade in 1978)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American science fiction film directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Daniel Mainwaring adapted the screenplay from Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers.
The story depicts an extraterrestrial invasion in a small California town. The invaders replace human beings with duplicates that appear identical on the surface, but are devoid of any emotion or individuality. A local doctor uncovers what is happening and tries to stop them.
In 1994, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
I was suspicious of watermelons for years after seeing this movie, because the pods that the imposters popped out of, looked liked watermelons to a young kid. Come to think of it, I still don’t like watermelons.
Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars works because it is pure, escapist fun and because it successfully builds a believable, cohesive galaxy that we are still exploring to this day. Followed by The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Sequels don’t get any better than this. Opening with the Hoth battle and concluding with Darth Vader’s dramatic revelation to Luke, The Empire Strikes Back is constructed of scenes awash with imagination. The film also saw real emotional development for its leads and some great new characters like Lando and Boba Fett. Next came Return of the Jedi (1983).
OK, so the Ewoks and abrupt death of Boba Fett continue to divide opinion, but ROTJ contains more memorable sequences than most movies could dream of: Luke’s battle against the Rancor monster; the Sarlacc’s pit; the speeder bike chase and a fitting conclusion.
On paper the plot sounds simple stuff: the crew of a spaceship are stalked by a relentless monster. Yet this is anything but a simple movie. It’s been much analysed by theorists for its portrayal of femininity (both in the strong heroine of Ripley and the film’s sexual imagery), while all of the crew members are complex and believable creations. And, of course, it’s incredibly frightening: the unveiling of Ash’s true identity is almost as scary as the xenomorph itself. Finally a sequel, Aliens (1986). James Cameron cleverly eschewed aping the original, and instead upped the alien quotient and delivered one of the most purely exciting films ever made. But this is no brainless actioner. Cameron waits almost an hour before the acid-blooded xenomorphs make an appearance, while the film transformed Ripley into a bona fide iconic action heroine. There’s also a memorable selection of supporting characters (Hicks, Hudson, Newt, Vasquez) and instantly quotable dialogue (“game over man!”).
The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg’s best film is a deliriously gory remake of the hokey 50s movie about a scientist (a superb Jeff Goldblum) whose genes get mangled with the DNA of a fly. Cue crumbling body parts and a bone-breaking arm wrestle. The only thing I missed in this one was the part in the original with Vincent Price crying out, “Help me, help me.”
E.T. is warm-hearted without descending into mawkishness. In part this is down to natural performances from Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore as the children who treat their alien visitor with respect and kindness – in contrast to most of the adults in the picture. In fact E.T. becomes kind of frightening in the second half with the doctors flocking around the little fellow and suits waving guns around (or rather less threatening walkie-talkies if you’re watching Spielberg’s revised version).
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
The best Trek movie by miles, this is an edgy, exciting and often very funny movie that feels much more than an extended TV episode. The makers even had the guts to kill Spock! OK, so they did bring him back in the next one…
The army fight radioactive giant killer ants! As premises go, it’s a pretty hard one to beat, and the Oscar-nominated bug effects hold up better than the majority of films from the period. Plus the tagline is awesome: “A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!”
Others you might remember:
Planet of the Apes (1968) Total Recall (1990
Blade Runner (1982) The Matrix (1999)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Soylent Green (1973)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) The Fifth Element (1997)
RoboCop (1987) Godzilla (1954)
Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) (1981) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Jurassic Park (1993) The Invisible Man (1933)
The Terminator (1984) Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
By Nancy Morris