2012′s Spotlight on Horror continues this week with another edition to the series. Today I take a look at a big genre mash-up: Sci-Fi Horror. Continue reading to see what films I chose to highlight for this category of horror films.
Sci-Fi Horror is a sub genre of horror that deals with science fiction related elements. These films often deal with futuristic or alien environments. Common themes revolve around the unknown/unexplainable and the advancement of technology to a negative societal effect.
THE MIST (2007)
Adapted from a Stephen King novella, this sci-fi horror film focuses on a group of strangers that quarantine themselves within a Supermarket after an eerie mist surrounds the building. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of reason to freak out but when you add in the element of other-worldly vicious monsters in the fog, the characters panic is pretty justified. The situation is further complicated by the human conflicts and tension that overwhelm the townspeople forced to share the grocery store space. Even though there are a few elements I wasn’t happy with in the story, the large majority of The Mist does a stellar job with executing terror. For the creatures, the film relies heavily on CGI but the real scares come from the threatened survivors. Scary Sci-Fi: This note is easily reserved for the creatures. Giant tentacles, creepy crawlers and even some winged-beasts comprise the horrors that occupy the mist.
A decisive film among the FTS crew, I for one am very fond of Pandorum. Set sometime in the future, the movie follows Corporal Bower (played by the under-appreciated Ben Foster) and Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) as they wake from hyper sleep on a spacecraft traveling through deep space. They can not remember their identities or mission and soon discover terrible secrets on their journey throughout the ship. The mystery plot line isn’t Pandorum‘s strongest asset but what works well are the film’s solid action and horror components. I like to describe it as a mixture of Alien and The Descent. It may not be the smartest sci-fi you will ever sit through but it delivers as a thrill ride. Scary Sci-Fi: The title Pandorum refers to a mental condition experienced by some passengers of deep space travel. Essentially causing travelers to ‘go mad,’ this adds a tense mixture of both science fiction and psychological terror to the film.
Cloverfield is found footage used effectively. There might be a few instances where you will need to have a lapse in logic (why are they still filming!?) but it won’t happen often enough to take you out of the story. The movie takes place in crowded New York and follows a group of friends as they gear up for a going away party. A night of celebration quickly turns into a struggle for survival as the city is attacked by a gigantic monster. The movie uses tricky camerawork to it’s advantage but the real success depends on the likable characters. Scary Sci-Fi: The creature of Godzilla-like proportions is scary because of it’s unknown origins and unknown power.
Essentially the pinnacle of sci-fi horror. Alien includes all the classic elements of what scares us about the future and jam packs it into one hell of a monster movie. The movie’s protagonist is Ripley (the forever badass Sigourney Weaver) who is at the center of a deep space towing ship crew’s journey in space. After landing to investigate a signal of unknown origin, Ripley and crew follow it to investigate but learn too late that the message was warning them of the danger that inhabited the area. What follows is a perfect mixture of suspense, gore, terror and action. Alien continues to withstand the test of time. Scary Sci-Fi: Obviously the fact that this movie revolves around aliens is the central sci-fi here but keep a watch out for the unexpected artificial intelligence which has become a reoccurring theme throughout the Alien franchise.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
A classic overall in the horror genre. Body Snatchers has since been copied countless times in other films including direct remakes. In fact, the 1978 film is a remake itself, from the 1956 original but it considered one of the best ever made. In the film, people are being replaced by exact replicants that lack human emotion. As health inspector Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) discovers what is happening, he tries to preserve his friends from a similar fate as everyone around them slowly falls victim to the pod people. Beyond the terrifying visions put on screen, the film serves as a commentary on the horrors of a conformist society. Scary Sci-Fi: Trust me when I say that watching the pod transformation scene is not a pleasant sight. Oh you don’t trust me? Fine then, you can watch it here.
THE BROOD (1979)
This David Cronenberg directed sci-fi horror is not for the faint of heart. You’ll see DC pop up a lot on lists for Body Horror (coming soon to my Spotlight on Horror) and The Brood would fit on that list too. But this film is so loaded with fake-science that is belongs right here. This plot synopsis could get a little verbose but the word you need to know is psychosomatic. Yes psychosomatic science and hoards of terrifying mutant children. I feel like I could go on but it wouldn’t benefit potential viewers. There are plenty of WTF moments to be found in The Brood and a few scenes that are sure to stick with you afterwards. Scary Sci-Fi: Shit, I thought I went over this already? The killer kids take the cake here. Please refer to this film’s header image for brief reference.
This post is part of the Countdown to Halloween blogathon, a month-long blogging marathon dedicated to honoring the Halloween season. For more information and a full list of participating sites, please visit www.countdowntohalloween.com.