SciFi movie night – get your popcorn while it’s hot!

This is my second attempt – the first, almost done, disappeared into the depths of cyberspace, after a day of work. This is actually be the first of several installments on SciFi movies – this one is from my personal DVD collection (and will in several parts, alphabetical, due to length), the next will be from my VHS collection, then those that are based on comicbook adaptations, one on post-apocalyptics (so you’ll see ones like Mad Max, and On the Beach missing from this list), one for Kids, Anime, and Animated, and one for those movies I don’t actually own (sigh…). And maybe later, one of TV series on DVD. Keep in mind that as this is a list of those in my collection, there are many I am missing, and some I have are not the “best.” But for whatever reason, I have them, and so they will be included. All of them are available in DVD on this list.

Whenever possible, I will pull up the place on the list from the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS): International Critics Group Celebrates a Century of Sci-Fi With List of the Top 100 Films from the Past 100 Years. Also, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA puts out a Saturn Award each year, and I will try and note it if the film wins the award for Best Sceince Fiction Film of that year.

I will pull most of the information from IMDB and also include Wikipedia cites. For more information there is the Online Film Critics top 100 SF movies:, and SciFi Movie reviews:

So here goes- get the popcorn, dim the lights, and enjoy the show:

Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The (1984)

User rating 5.9/10, IMDB. #93, OFCS. Directed by W.D. Richter, and starring Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd and John Lithgow. “Neurosurgeon/Rock Star/Superhero Buckaroo has perfected the oscillation overthruster, which allows him to travel through solid matter by using the eighth dimension. The Red Lectroids from Planet 10 [evil creatures from the 8th dimension (all named John)] are after this device for their own evil ends, and it’s up to Buckaroo and his band and crime-fighting team The Hong Kong Cavaliers to stop them. Jon Reeves and Greg Boles, IMDB

“Expect the unexpected. He does.” A cult favorite, inclduing mine, it’s a non-stop, rollicking adventure, campy and very ’80s, but a riff on SciFi. Do not make the mistake of trying to understand it, or take it seriously – this is just popcorn fun.

AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

User rating 6.8/10, IMDB. #25, OFCS. Directed by Steven Spielberg, from a short story by Brian Aldiss. Won the Saturn. Starring William Hurt, Haley Joel Osmont, and Jude Law. “In the not-so-far future the polar ice caps have melted and the resulting raise of the ocean waters has drowned all the coastal cities of the world. Withdrawn to the interior of the continents, the human race keeps advancing, reaching to the point of creating realistic robots (called mechas) to serve him. One of the mecha-producing companies builds David, an artificial kid which is the first to have real feelings, especially a never-ending love for his “mother”, Monica. Monica is the woman who adopted him as a substitute for her real son, who remains in cryo-stasis, stricken by an incurable disease. David is living happily with Monica and her husband, but when their real son returns home after a cure is discovered, his life changes dramatically. A futuristic adaptation of the tale of Pinocchio, with David being the “fake” boy who desperately wants to become ‘real.'” Chris Makrazohopoulos, IMDB

“David is 11 years old. He weighs 60 pounds. He is 4 feet, 6 inches tall. He has brown hair. His love is real. But he is not.” This is a box of kleenex movie. A good tale, with a nice classic Spielberg ending: think Close Encounters. Definitely worth a look, if not a place on your shelf.

Alien (1979)

User rating 8.5/10, IMDB. #10, OFCS. Directed by Ridley Scott. Won the Saturn. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerrit, and John Hurt. “When commercial towing vehicle Nostromo, heading back to Earth, intercepts an SoS signal from a nearby planet, the crew are under obligation to investigate. After a bad landing on the planet, some crew members leave the ship to explore the area. At the same time as they discover a hive colony of some unknown creature, the ship’s computer deciphers the message to be a warning, not a call for help. When one of the eggs is disturbed, the crew do not know the danger they are in until it is too late.” Graeme Roy, IMDB

“In space no one can hear you scream.” This was once my bug-a-boo movie, along with The Exorcist. My then boyfriend (now my ex) took me to it for my birthday, and I can only say I say up until the dining table scene and the rest was spent lying down in his lap. After the movie, we went a few days later to my mom’s for dinner, and she gave me a Russian onyx carving she had picked up – a bird-liek creature coming out of an egg. Needless t say, I was horrified, and had to explain it all. It’s now a family joke. Years (20+) later, I got over my horror film panic and began to enjoy the genre to some extent, and this became one of my staple films, along with Aliens, and the rest of the set. I only wished I could have bought the nine-volume quadrilogy set. I ony have the set in a silver boxed edition.

An Elegant Universe (2003)

User rating 8.3/10, IMDB. A 3- part series originally aired on NOVA, it’s a documentary based on the self-titled book by Brian Greene. “Eleven dimensions, parallel universes, and a world made out of strings. It’s not science fiction, it’s string theory.” Worth a look for background information on SciFact.

Astronaut’s Wife, The (1999)

User rating 4.8/10, IMDB. Directed by Rand Ravik, and Starring Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron. “Astronaut Spencer Armacoust was on a mission when he suddenly lost contact. When he got home, to friends he was the same, but to his wife he was different. She becomes pregnant, but as time progresses she begins to feel like the lives inside of her are not of this world.” Brian Levin, IMDB

“How well do you know the one you love?” This one is just pure entertainment and Depp value – nothing more. It’s not deep, visually exciting, but is your basic SciFi thriller.

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

User rating 4.8/10, IMDB. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and starring Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan. “The satellite of a company owned by the millionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) locates in Antarctica an unidentified source of heat and a pyramid with indication of three different primitive cultures built six hundred meters below a deactivated whaling station. Weyland hires expertize, including an archeologist and an electronic engineer, and organizes an expedition leaded by Alexa Woods (Sannaa Lathan). When they reach their target, they realize that the place is indeed the stage of an ancient war between two breeds, and humans are only kettle in this game. They pick a side, based on the saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Claudio Carvalho, IMDB

“Whoever wins… We lose.” This gets a much lower user rating than I would have given it – I LOVE this movie. It’s the culmination of the Alien movies and Predator, which also took me time to enjoy (oh, all those lost years of watching…). It’s a classic battleground flick, where you have to pick a side, the one you think is less dangerous, and if you pick wrong, you lose. This is pulse-pounding sherr fun. A persoal favorite, that will always be on my shelf.

Black Hole, The (1979)

User rating 5.5/10, IMDB. Directed by Gary Nelson for Walt Disney Productions, and starring Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine. The voices of the main robot characters in the film are provided by Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens. “The crew of the spaceship Palamino stumbles across the ”lost” ship U.S.S. Cygnus, hovering on the edge of an immense black hole. Once aboard, they find the ship is manned by robots – it’s only human inhabitant, one Dr. Hans Reinhardt; an eminent scientist, missing for the past twenty years. His plan – to enter the Black Hole . . . Whether Dr. Reinhardt is a genius or a mad-man, one thing is for sure, he will not be denied his life’s dream. What lies beyond the Black Hole? Immortality . . . or, Oblivion . . . ? ” Mark Harding, IMDB

“A journey that begins where everything ends!” Although not a serious science fiction work, it had notable special effects for it’s time, and was the first Disney movie not to have a universal rating (G), which led to the development ofTouchstone Pictures and it’s more adult oriented division. For it’s time, it’s a good film, a little dated now, but still worth a look in context, since it was revolutionary, but eclipsed by the earlier Star Wars movie. A sentimental favorite for those of my generation.

Cell, The (2000)

User rating 6.1/10, IMDB. #72 OFCS. Directed by Tarsim Singh, and starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaugh, and Vincent D’Onofrio. Won the Saturn. “Catharine Deane is a psychotherapist who is part of a revolutionary new treatment which allows her mind to literally enter the mind of her patients. Her experience in this method takes an unexpected turn when an FBI agent comes to ask for a desperate favour. They had just tracked down a notorious serial killer, Carl Stargher, whose MO is to abduct women one at a time and place them in a secret area where they are kept for about 40 hours until they are slowly drowned. Unfortunately, the killer has fallen into an irreversible coma which means he cannot confess where he has taken his latest victim before she dies. Now, Catherine Deane must race against time to explore the twisted mind of the killer to get the information she needs, but Stargher’s damaged personality poses dangers that threaten to overwhelm her.” Kenneth Chisholm, IMDB

“This Summer… Enter The Mind Of A Killer.” This one is a bit strange, and requires an extra viewing to really “get” it, at least for me, but it’s worth a look just for D’Onofrio, who is a favorite on mine for his work on Law & Order, Criminal Intent’s Det. Goren. He is an intense actor, and the perfect casting for this part.

Chronicles of Riddick, The (2004)

User rating 6.3/10, IMDB. Directed by David Twohy, and starring Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Judi Dench, with Thandie Newton and Colm Feore. “Five years ago… Escaped convict Richard B. Riddick escaped from a desert planet with his two companions, religious man Imam and runaway teenage girl Jack. After five years wandering across the outskirts of the galaxy and being hunted by bounty hunters calming the bounty on his head, Riddick arrives on the colonized planet New Mecca, he learns Imam placed the bounty on his head and Jack has been imprisoned on the prison planet “Crematoria” for murder. Riddick learns from Aereon, ambassador of the Elemental race is seeking out Furians, a race of warriors in a bid to balance the universe, as a warrior army known as The Necromongers led by the evil undead Lord Marshal are invading every planet in the galaxy and cleansing all of humanity in their goal for universal conquest. Beliving Riddick is a Furian warrior, Aereon decides to hire Riddick believing he is the one man who can stop The Lord Marshal and the Necromongers. When the Necromongers attacks New Mecca, Riddick is captured by cocky bounty hunter Toombs and his crew and he is transported to Crematoria, where he reunites with Jack now named ‘Kyra’, where Riddick and Kyra escapes to the planet’s sun ravaged surface, where Riddick helped by Necromonger warrior Vakko and his sexy wife Dame Vakko, sets out to defeat the Lord Marshal and save the universe from the Lord Marshal’s rule and save the rest of humanity from being converted into Nercomonger warriors.” Daniel Williamson, IMDB

“There is no future until you settle the past.” This is a much more sumptious Dune than it’s prequel Pitch Black. Full of court intrique, prison scenes reminiscent of the earlier Outlander, and plots, counter-plots, and twists and turns. Still a good, solid movie for Vin Diesel fans, and the final race against time is worth it. It’s on my must-have list.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

User rating 7.8/10, IMDB. #8 OFCS. Directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, and Teri Garr. “Cableman Roy Neary is one of several people who experience a close encounter of the first kind, witnessing UFOs flying through the night sky. He is subsequently haunted by a mountainlike image in his head and becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, putting severe strain on his marriage. Meanwhile, government agents around the world have a close encounter of the second kind, discovering physical evidence of otherworldly visitors in the form of military vehicles that went missing decades ago suddenly appearing in the middle of nowhere. Roy and the agents both follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact.” mlohner, IMDB

“We are not alone.” A landmark SciFi film, not only for it’s special effects, but also for it’s portrayal of aliens as benign, rather than the War of the Worlds type that had sterotyped generations of movies. For years, we mounded our potatoes into the classic Devil’s Tower shape, whcih we had visited many times as a kid before the movie, which came out a year after I graduated from high school (which didn’t stop the mashed potato thing). And the five note scale became a device used by many – that math would be the universal constant, along with music (mathematically based) that would allow aliens to connect with us. Indeed, much of what was sent out as a greeting to space consisted of mathematcis and music.


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