RJ Corner – OMG! Top 20 Nightmares
I never realized just what a task it is to make a Top 20 list for science fiction films. Discussing it with Lee compounded the problem when it became apparent that an actual numerical list ranking one film the absolute best and counting down from there is sheer madness. I have to agree with Lee on one point: the genre of science fiction cinema is far too vast to boil down into a numerical best list of any size. So we came up with the “If I Were Stranded On A Desert Island” list of 20 films each of us would want to have. The great thing about this list from my point of view is that I can modify it at any time according to my whim and fancy.
RJ’s Desert Island List of SciFi Films Listed Alphabetically
Had trouble choosing between these so I made them share the billing. Alien is the classic ‘haunted spaceship film” first seen in old classics like It: The Terror From Beyond Space. Both films use tension like a rapier.
Angry Red Planet(1959)
This one had me squirming in my seat as a child. A tremendous story penned by Sydney Pink.
Bound to be considered a classic of the 21st century. Not only are the special effects stunning, the story is one of corporate greed versus indigenous species and environmentalism.
Beast From 20,000 Fathoms(1953)
As discussed in my previous column this flick was the beginning of dynamation. A great story, written in part by Ray Bradbury, combined with great effects.
Film Noir in a science fiction setting. Great story adapted from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. What’s not to love about this film?
Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Once again a film that questions the beginning of the Cold War. Heavy on characters and plot, the special effects were adequate but the real gem here is the story and the acting. “Gort. Klaatu barada nikto!”
One of my favorite films. Again, the special effects for the day were stunning and the robot Robie was endearing. Sad what they did with him in a later TV series: Danger Will Robinson!
What grown up kid wouldn’t love this movie? Living dinosaurs. The Velociraptors and the other dinos make this an unforgettable experience. Great story, great acting and outstanding special effects.
An excellent adaptation of the cyberpunk genre in scifi. Well written and well acted. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) was excellent as the antagonist of the film. “Isn’t that right, Mr.Anderson?”
Men In Black(1997)
A scifi flick with a comedic heart. There are more one liners in this movie that you can shake a stick at. Both Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are excellent and the effects well done.
Planet of the Apes(1968)
Charlton Heston in any film is good. A scifi one is even better. This is another excellent merging of plot, character and action. A must see.
The second of the Mad Maxx post-apocalyptic films with Mel Gibson playing the title character. Outstanding villain in Humungus.
Robinson Crusoe On Mars(1964)
In 1964 America was heavily invested into the Space Race with the Soviets. Good effects and an excellent story line. Good performance by Paul Mantee.
Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan(1982)
Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!! What else needs be said?!
Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back(1980)
The scene with Luke and Darth Vader (“Luke. I am your…”) battling in the CloudCity was one of the best swashbuckler scenes from any Hollywood film.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day(1991)
Although the first Terminator was outstanding, the second ratcheted up the francise to another level. Robert Patrick’s T1000 liquid terminator was awesome.
This is another film from my childhood scifi/horror fests on Friday and Saturday. Giant ants – again blame nuclear testing – Vs humans. What’s not to like?
Time Machine (1960)
This film was a feast for the mind as well as the eyes. Rod Taylor was superb as George Wells, the inventor of the machine.
2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)
This is the film that started the craft of intense realism: Special Effects. Stanley Kubrick along with Arthur C. Clarke and Douglas Trumbull set out to make “the proverbial good science fiction movie.” I think they succeeded.
The War of the Worlds(1953)
This film rocks. Great story, great action, excellent aliens, well acted and cast and beautifully filmed. Well worth the time spent watching an iconic movie.
Missing from my list are a slew of new films. With the test of time I’m sure they will eventually find a place on my list. Many of those flicks are heavy on tremendous special effects and light on character development. My guess is that the lack of (or great cost of) special effects made the older films more dependant on characters and plot and less beholden to the special effects houses.
Iconic films such as 2001, Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still and the Beast From 20,000 Fathoms have become prime examples of the genre at its best with many of them holding their own against the more modern films.
A great many of the films on the list have been relegated to students of scifi cinema. I would urge the younger generation to take a look at these older films and find out that they are treasures to be enjoyed. Most of the older films on the list stand up to today’s viewing without the benefit of multimillion dollar special effect extravaganzas.
So that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Please, send in your list and we’ll put it out there. You can send them to us by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or you can reply in the opinion portion of the blog. Either way, comments are thankfully solicited. Next post will be LJ’s list.