Time Out’s 100 Best Sci-Fi Movies got so much right, but here are ten ignored films that deserved a place.
Time Out recently released their list of the 100 best science fiction films of all time. While many entries are spot on, the inclusion of superhero films like Iron Man and Superman feels like a bit of a populist cop-out when still so many brilliant science fiction films missed the cut. And so, here are ten great science fiction films snubbed in Time Out’s epic list.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Tom Cruise harnesses the power of the aliens that are trying to conquer Earth – every time he dies, he resets the day, which finally gives him the edge to save the planet. This fast and funny action spectacle is Buddhist science fiction; the hero is born (and reborn) to suffer and die until he earns his rightful place in Nirvana.
Planet of the Vampires (1965)
Answering a distress call, two spaceships land on an alien world, where the crews get possessed by a mysterious entity and then attempt to kill one another. Directed by Italian horror legend Mario Bava, this film is not only the template for Alien (#3 on Time Out’s list), but is also a 1960s pop sci-fi extravaganza; the insanely wild sets and costumes, plus Bava’s obsession with bright colours, make this film explode off the screen.
Death Race 2000 (1975)
In a dystopian America, every year a transcontinental road race is held where the contestants are scored less on speed and more on the amount of pedestrians they can kill. This pitch black satire from producer Roger Corman lampoons reality television (despite the film being made long before there even was such a thing), while also commenting on celebrity culture and American politics.
Strange Days (1995)
Ex-cop-turned-hustler Ralph Fiennes deals in SQUID vids, devices that can record everything the wearer experiences, which is then played back as virtual reality. When he comes into possession of an illegal vid, he finds himself involved in a police cover up. Kathryn Bigelow’s science fiction actioner takes an extremely dark view of the human condition at the end of the 20th century, but her film is also strangely prophetic of the over-saturation of media we experience today.
Ikarie XB-1 (1963)
On a deep space mission, the crew of Ikarie XB-1 must contend with the catastrophic risks of space travel and the psychological deterioration of their shipmates. Made under the auspices of the Soviets, this Czechoslovakian science fiction film is not only an entertaining and thrilling space film, but it also influenced every film of its kind that came after, notably 2001: A Space Odyssey (#1 on Time Out’s list) and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.
In an irradiated post-apocalyptic world, a scavenger salvages a junked robot and gifts it to his artist girlfriend. Unbeknownst to them, the robot was designed to kill humans and is about to wake up. Drenched in red and encased in metal, the future of Hardware is an extremely tactile place that feels real and lived in. The overbearing sense of dread only increases until the film reaches its tense conclusion.
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
A young boy and his telepathic dog traverse a post-apocalyptic wasteland looking for food to eat and women to have sex with. During their journey, they encounter a community called ‘Downunder’, whose citizens live in a ridiculous simulation of 1950s America. Based on stories by sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison, this dark and twisted tale explores the idea that what we call civilisation is merely a veneer, beneath which lies our more authentic, animalistic nature.
In the future, gaming consoles have become organic ‘game-pods’ which interface directly with the human body. This direct interaction with technology begins to blur the lines between both human and machine, reality and dream. Released the same year as The Matrix (#13 on Time Out’s list), Cronenberg’s film is a far more interesting rumination on humanity’s evolution toward a more technological state of existence.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
An American soldier is captured during the Korean War and becomes a brainwashed assassin that targets the obstacles to a communist plot for world domination. John Frankenheimer’s sci-fi masterpiece is on one side a blackly comic political satire, and on the other side a taut political thriller that delves deep into the darkest paranoid fantasies of the Cold War.
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
The United States develops a super-computer to take control of the country’s nuclear arsenal, in order to one-up the Soviets. But when Colossus gains sentience, it decides that only one thing stands in the way of peace: humanity. This bleak sci-fi parable was released two years after 2001: A Space Odyssey and is the complete flip side to Kubrick’s optimistic film. There are no happy endings here, as humanity’s hubris reaches its apotheosis. This is sci-fi at its best, thought-provoking and terrifying.
Featured image: First Run Features
Inset images: Warner Bros; American International Pictures; New World Pictures; 20th Century Fox; American International Pictures; Palace Pictures; First Run Features; Momentum Pictures; United Artists; Universal