Outer space has become a go-to setting for horror and suspense movies over the years, aided by advances in special effects technology that allow for more realistic recreations of the interplanetary experience -- including the requisite alien eagerly awaiting a human meal. Here's a list of horror and suspense movies that take place primarily in outer space or on other planets.
© 20th Century Fox
When a spaceship responds to a distress signal on a nearby planet, it unexpectedly picks up an alien life form that hides on board the ship, killing the crew one by one. The outer space horror movie that all others are measured against, Alien
is one of the most influential horror movies of all time, spawning multiple rip-offs and three more space-set sequels: Aliens
, Alien 3
and Alien Resurrection
© Diamond Entertainment
One of many Alien
retreads, this one takes place on one of Saturn's moons, with a team (not to be confused with A-Team, which would be far more entertaining) of researchers uncovering a cannister holding a "creature" that proceeds to kill everyone on the team...and then sets about attacking the follow-up team that checks on the first team.
© New Line
In horror movies, going into space seems to be the equivalent of a sitcom adding a cute little kid to the cast in a last-ditch effort to revitalize the series. The fourth and final Critters
film features dimwitted hero Charlie getting locked in a space pod with two critter (Crite) eggs and being blasted into space, where he goes into suspended animation for over 50 years and is picked up by a space ship in the year 2045. The eggs, of course, hatch, and the Crites go on a killing spree aboard the new ship. Angela Basset is featured in a (no doubt embarrassing) before-she-was-famous
In this competent video game adaptation, a research colony on Mars unwittingly opens a doorway to Hell through with a host of creatures invades. On the bright side, they get the definitive answer to their experiment, "How Many Scientists Would Be Slaughtered If Someone Were to Open a Gateway to Hell?"
Certainly one of the worst incarnations of Dracula in cinematic history, this film places the legendary vampire inexplicably on a derelict spaceship in the year 3000. When a salvage ship comes to investigate, Dracula -- here called Orlock, in reference to Nosferatu
-- attacks the crew, which is headed by Captain -- wait for it -- Van Helsing. The D-list cast includes Casper Van Dien, Erika Eleniak, Udo Kier, ex-wrestler Tiny "Zeus" Lister and (sigh) Coolio.
Oft-maligned director Paul W.S. Anderson (AKA Mr. Milla Jovovich) delivers this dark, disturbing tale of a space ship, the Event Horizon
that pops up in the year 2047 after disappearing for seven years. When a rescue ship is dispatched to investigate, the crew discovers that the Event Horizon
has been to another dimension, bringing back with it an evil presence that makes people's fears materialize.
Forbidden World (1982)
Also known as Mutant, this is another cheap Alien clone, this time coming from legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman. In it, a research team on a fictional planet genetically engineers a life form as a food source, only to see it turn into a killing machine. Corman would later revisit this material in 1990's Dead Space, a remake of Forbidden World that no one really clamored for.
© United Artists
How many times can Roger Corman go to this well? This time, a space ship is sent to a distant planet to investigate a crash and encounters a creature that uses the crew's own fears to kill them off -- much like Event Horizon
would do years later.
© Columbia TriStar
Ignoring the loud flopping sound of previous cinematic Mars excursions Mission to Mars
and The Red Planet
, director John Carpenter
revisited the basic premise of his 1976 film Assault on Precinct 13
-- a small group of police officers guarding a notorious felon in an isolated police station under siege from a horde of nogoodniks -- by setting it on Mars and populating the horde with miners possessed by Martian spirits. Disappointing but not without some entertainment value, particularly if you enjoy seeing Ice Cube scowl.
The Green Slime (1968)
This silly Japanese production has attained a level of camp acclaim over the years, telling the tale of astronauts who, in Armageddon fashion, fly to an asteroid to blow it up before it hits Earth. Unlike Armageddon, however, a green alien blob hitches a ride off of the asteroid and mutates into tentacled beings that emit electricity to kill the ship's crew.