Sci fi movies work beautifully in the cinematic show: dozens of productions of this genre have become absolutely must-see movies and unmissable masterpieces. They manage to deal with philosophical and political issues with science fiction metaphors that attract a lot of the public. Topics that otherwise would have burdened the cinematic story such as the cold war, xenophobia, pacifism, pollution, social crises.
Sci fi and arthouse cinema often don’t get along very well. The same could be said of independent cinema, made with low budgets. Sci fi is one of the favorite genres of mainstream movies, exclusive to Hollywood territory.
Sci fi movies needs special effects, incredible studio sets, star clashes and forays into other planets. Sci fi movies have become the largest source of revenue for the Hollywood industry to cover almost 90% of the revenue in the 1990s. So you might think that science fiction cinema is exclusively something spectacular made with great resources, but it is not. .
Indie Sci Fi Movies
There is an independent science fiction cinema that tells little out of the ordinary stories without the need to show aliens or other planets. In the same way as there is a sci fi movies such as Solaris by Andrei Tarkovskij, Where is the science fiction genre meets important philosophical and existential reflections.
John Carpenter, one of the most famous directors of sci fi movies, has repeatedly stated that through his sci-fi and horror films he tells his political vision. A striking example of his filmography is They Live, a dystopian sci fi movies from 1988, where his anti-capitalist ideas about consumerism emerge clearly.
It took several years for sci fi movies to also establish itself as quality and arthouse cinema. It has long been considered a minor genre relegated to b-movie. Over time, however, the special effects have made it possible to achieve much more satisfying results.
Directors arrived who used the science fiction genre to make their own arthouse films, creating great masterpieces. This is the case, for example, of Stanley Kubrick with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky with Solaris.
Sci Fi Movies in Hollywood
Other authors, on the other hand, have used the extraordinary commercial potential of sci fi movies to satisfy the adolescent audience. As in the case of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. They are extremely spectacular films made in Hollywood that greatly simplify the complexity of the themes they deal with.
They use language suitable for a large audience and are often overrated by film critics. They are great global costume phenomena that have become franchises like the Star Wars, supported by huge global marketing that has influenced entire generations. Steven Spielberg’s ET was the biggest grossing film in film history for many years, only to be surpassed by Avatar.
The typical feature of cinema remains that of being extraordinary personal growth tool. A chance to confront ourselves with other possible experiences that we would never otherwise experience in reality. But there is above all a sci fi cinema that is just pure entertainment, galactic travel and adrenaline.
How is science fiction born?
The sci fi movies are born from the science fiction literature of the 1900s, which in turn was inspired by scientific literature. Scientific literature was the account of travel and scientific and technical theories. The intent was to study and reflect on the impact of these discoveries on human life.
These are often tales of exotic journeys to territories populated by strange creatures, where discoveries are made that go beyond all imagination. It is man’s age-old need to explore and imagine other worlds.
The most ancient roots of science fiction can be found in literary works such as The Greek novel The true story of Lucian of Samosata, written around 150 AD, the first document of a trip to the Moon, and of encounters with an extraterrestrial people called the Selenites. In this novel the main themes of science fiction already coexist: the journey to another planet and the encounter with an extraterrestrial civilization.
Another interesting precursor text of the science fiction genre is Bacon’s New Atlantis. It is the story of a technologically advanced civilization of the future in a philosophical key. In the 1600s science fiction began to explore scientific theories beyond rational understanding, the discoveries of other worlds. The techniques that seem impossible but are the norm for the future society or for alien peoples.
The characters who began to populate science fiction literature were aliens, cyborgs, mutants, monsters, robots. The English expression science fiction was created by Hugo Gernsback in 1926. Initially it was scientific fiction, then contracted into scientifiction, to finally be reduced to science fiction, often abbreviated to Sci-Fi. The official birth date of sci fi is April 5, 1926, with the first US science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. But there were already works like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The novels of Jules Verne and HG Wells.
The first sci fi movies
At the origins of the history of cinema, science fiction cinema mixes an exotic adventure with a film of exploration of distant worlds. The first sci fi movies were made by the French director and magician Georges Melies. At least three of his sci fi movies are unmissable: A Trip to the Moon, An Impossible Voyage and Conquering the Pole. Conquering the Pole initially presents itself as an exploration film, but quickly turns into a journey into the fantasy world of Melies. A fictional world that is closer to sci fi than adventure movies.
Sci fi movies of the 1920s
In the early 1920s, two masterpieces of expressionist cinema were made that anticipate the themes of Sci fi movies. Lang and Wiene take from literature the character of the mad scientist who uses science and technology for evil purposes. It will be one of the recurring characters of sci fi movies in the following years.
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari by Robert Wiene from 1920, The iconic film of cinematographic expressionism. Francis tells a story to a man: in 1830, in a small town, a guy named Caligari plays the barker at the fair to present his attraction, a sleepwalker who he holds under hypnosis in a coffin. The doctor argues that the sleepwalker is able to know the past and predict the future. Unreal atmospheres and deformed sets, stylized acting, split personality, confusion between dream and reality.
Dr. Mabuse from Fritz Lang is a 1922 film. Doctor Mabuse is an evil psychoanalyst, skilled manipulator who enriches himself with illicit means, gambling and fake money. He creates panic in the stock market and crashes the stock prices of a company which he then buys cheaply. Mabuse succeeds through the most evil actions to overcome the competition and to eliminate his enemies, even to direct the anger of the crowd against the police. He manages to subjugate people by manipulating their minds with hypnosis and magnetism. With these powers he makes a countess fall in love with him.
An extraordinary document of an era that Fritz Lang creates inspired by the news he read in the newspaper. It is the meeting point between the Expressionist cinema is The detective plot of which Fritz Lang also demonstrated in subsequent films to be a master. The grandeur of this masterpiece emerges from the precision of the details linked by a global vision: rhythm, atmospheres, dances, crimes and gambling. Cocaine, jazz and police raids. Allure of the occult and stock market scams, prostitution and smuggling. Nothing is missing in this cult film of the 20s, where we also find the mystery of hypnosis and the manipulation of the human mind.
In the 1920s, the tale of the lost civilization of Atlantis is the subject of two interesting films, precursors of the sci fi genre.
Atlantis of 1921 is directed by Jacques Feyder. Captain Morhange and his lieutenant Saint-Avit go on a mission to a distant desert area. They lose their bearings and wander aimlessly until they reach an area that seems hospitable. But a short time later they are captured by the inhabitants of the mythical city of Atlantis, full of amazing architectural structures. They are brought by the queen who manipulates their mind and takes away their will to escape the city. The queen also begins to create jealousies and resentments between the 2 soldiers with her beauty. But the cataclysm that will make the civilization of Atlantis disappear is imminent. In 1928 Atlantis the director Georg Pabst.
The Invisible Ray
In 1924 another film was made in France, The Invisible Ray, by the avant-garde director René Clair. Although René Clair’s interest is not at all to try his hand at the sci fi genre, in the film there are the foundations that would develop in subsequent productions of Sci-Fi.
Sleeping Paris is one of the prototypes of sci fi cinema: in it the figure of the mad scientist appears for the first time. He has invented a mysterious ray which he experiments on Paris, causing the entire population to fall asleep. Parisians remain paralyzed, still as statues. Albert, the guardian of the Eiffel Tower remains immune to the effects of the beam due to the height of the Tower and realizes that Paris has fallen under a strange curse. Another 5 people who landed with an airplane have not been affected by the ray and are exploring the deserted city.
In 1924 the Russian director Jakov Aleksandrovič Protazanov made one of the first sci fi movies of great impact: Aelita. A mysterious message in an unknown language of only three words is broadcast on the radio around the world: “anta … odeli … uta”. In Moscow, engineer Los and his colleague Spiridov feel spied on. Observing them is the queen of a distant planet who looks at them through a powerful telescope called Aelita. The engineer begins to live in a state of consciousness where reality and dream mix, without being able to understand what really happens and what is fantasy. He kills his wife in a fit of jealousy and sets off in search of the telescope to the planet Mars, where he will meet the queen. Based on a novel by Alexei Nikolaevich Tolstoy, it is the first Soviet cinematic blockbuster and the first sci fi movies shot in Russia. It was a great success with the public and critics.
The Lost World
The saga of sci fi movies inspired by the lost worlds of late 1800s Victorian literature begins in 1925 with The Lost World, based on a novel by Arthur Conan Doyle. Professor George Challenger, comes into possession of the diary of the explorer Maple White, who disappeared on a plateau in South America; the diary contains drawings of dinosaurs through which he understands that these animals are not yet completely extinct. Challenger exposes the theory to other scientists but is mocked. But soon the professor will organize an expedition to South America. The film brings dinosaurs to cinemas for the first time. Lost Worlds will continue to be one of the most successful subgenres in science fiction in the future.
In 1927, a film arrives that will become a true icon of the science fiction genre. This is Metropolis of Fritz Lang. A sci-fi film made with a large budget by the legendary German director who represents the class struggle with extraordinary visual metaphors.
We are in 2026. A group of wealthy capitalists live and govern in the city of Metropolis. The richest of all is the entrepreneur dictator Fredersen who lives on top of the tallest skyscraper. A teacher and prophet named Maria, accompanied by the workers’ children, talks to Fredersen and convinces him to visit the underground. The dictator discovers the inhuman conditions in which the proletarians live: they work in a disturbing assembly line where they cannot make any mistakes, otherwise the machine M that supplies water to the city by diverting an underground river would explode. Event that comes true and to which Fredersen witnesses with horror. The machine turns into a Moloch that eats humans.
It is the first film that manages to fully express the extraordinary potential of science fiction: to represent political and philosophical concepts with a spectacularity that also attracts the mass audience. Metropolis and also one of the first sci fi movies of dystopian genre.
A woman on the moon
In 1928 Fritz Lang makes a new sci fi movies called A Woman on the Moon. Four men, a woman and a child travel on a ship to the moon to find gold mines. A corrupt company that controls the gold trade takes command of the project. The first film where rockets and other space technologies are shown from a scientific point of view. The German director made use of the collaboration of scientists who dealt with missile technologies.
Sci fi movies of the 30s
Avant-garde films such as these cited will provide inspiration in the 1930s to the commercial film industry to make films such as Frankenstein, The Mask of Fu Man chu, Island of Lost Souls, The Woman the Monster. The science fiction genre begins to take on a more defined personality.
Island of lost souls
In the film Island of lost souls, shot in 1932 and based on the novel The island of Doctor Moreau. Edward Parker is a castaway who is rescued from a ship carrying animals to a remote island in Oceania. The master of the island is the mysterious Doctor Moreau. Parker opposes the ship’s captain who mistreats a passenger and is thrown overboard where he is rescued by Moreau. Doctor Moreau offers Parker hospitality on the island and introduces him to Lota, a beautiful and naive girl. Parker and the girl hear screams coming from a locked room, which Lota calls the “house of pain”. Parker investigates and sees Moreau operate on a person without anesthesia. He believes that Moreau is a madman who performs atrocious vivisection experiments and tries to escape, but meets monstrous men living in the jungle.
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man in James Whale‘s 1933 is one of Universal’s famous productions. The film tells the invention of a serum that makes invisible drags a man into the abyss of madness and evil. A mysterious man with his face covered in bandages and sunglasses is staying at an inn in a small village in Sussex. He doesn’t want to meet anyone and wants to be alone. He locks himself in the room and does strange experiments, he is grumpy with the hoteliers when they serve him meals.
After some time the man loses control and attacks the hotelier when he tries to move his belongings around the room. Then a policeman arrives to chase him away. But the hotelier, the policeman and other people present discover, when the man takes off his glasses and blindfolds, that he is invisible. The invisible man takes off his clothes and flees to the countryside. He is Dr. Jack Griffin, a chemist who discovered the secret of invisibility while conducting a series of experiments with a mysterious substance called Monocaine.
The end of the world
The prototypes of the catastrophic sci fi movies are The End of the World in 1931 and Deluge in 1933. The first is signed by the director of French avant-garde Abel Gance. Scientist Martial Novalic has discovered a comet that will collide with the Earth within a short time with fatal consequences. The end of the world seems inevitable and men fall into chaos. A banker wants to create a brotherly alliance between all the peoples of the Earth. Another businessman wants to exploit the terror of the population for a probable new world war. Martial Novalic, president of all the countries of the world, proclaims the universal republic.
The American director called Felix Feist tells in Deluge the danger on the city of New York due to an earthquake and a tsunami. Meteorologists face a mysterious problem: Earth’s barometric pressure is dropping like never before. A storm of unprecedented power could be unleashed. All planes are called back to the ground. Swimming champion Claire Arlington has to give up her sporting feat of swimming around the island of Manhattan. Suddenly a solar eclipse occurs. The phenomenon occurs all over the world and in Europe begins a series of large earthquakes. Panic begins to spread among the population. The situation is bound to get worse.
The forerunner of sci fi movies horror is Frankenstein, by James Whale, made in the Universal studios in 1931. In a village in the Bavarian Alps, Henry Frankenstein and his hunchbacked assistant Fritz create a human body by stealing body parts from newly buried corpses in a cemetery or from convicted criminals. to death by hanging. Frankenstein built a laboratory in an old tower to experiment with how to bring this being to life through electrical discharges. But he misses the most important piece: the brain. At a nearby school, Henry’s former teacher shows his class the brain of a normal human being by comparing it to the brain of a criminal. Fritz is sent by Frankenstein to steal the healthy brain, but the man accidentally knocks him to the ground and then brings the criminal’s brain to his master. The film is still one of the most successful versions of Mary Shelley’s novel today.
Bride of Frankenstein
After the great success of Frankenstein, the director also made a very interesting sequel entitled Bride of Frankenstein in 1935. In a Geneva villa, Mary Shelley tells her husband and writer friend George Byron the plot she has in mind for the sequel to his novel Frankenstein. The monster, who survived the fire, roams the countryside. Doctor Frankenstein, alive by a miracle, vows to abandon his crazy experiments forever. But one day Dr. Pretorius, his teacher years ago, visits him and proposes an experiment to create a new breed of androids, giving his creature a woman to marry.
Things to Come
A major dystopian film entitled Things to Come and also the most expensive sci fi production to date. It was shot by William Cameron Menzies in 1936.
A Second World War breaks out in the English city of Everytown. The war will last for decades and the survivors will not be able to remember why it started. The bombing has completely devastated human civilization, which has returned to a dark era similar to the Middle Ages. The carcasses of cars are pulled by horses. In this scenario, a mysterious pandemic called “The Wandering Plague” breaks out. A prophetic and disturbing film: the future told in the film would become reality after a few years with the Second World War. Likewise the cyborgs and other applications of technology told in the sci fi movies of the 90s are coming true in the 2020s
The “lost worlds” succeeds in making a name for themselves in the 1933 film, King Kong.
In the early days of the Great Depression, arrogant documentary filmmaker Carl Denham is on the verge of bankruptcy and is desperate for a leading lady to raise his finances with his new film. He decides to look for his actress among the common people and meets Ann Darrow, a beautiful blonde girl in serious financial difficulties. He offers her a role and Ann agrees to embark on a journey to a mysterious island, Skull Island, which doesn’t even appear on the maps. After a long voyage, the troupe arrives on the island and disembarks there just as some natives are celebrating a strange tribal ritual. The film marks a turning point in the history of the sci-fi genre thanks to extraordinary special effects and use of technology never before used so effectively. They are special effects based on step-one animation techniques, miniature sets and green screens.
Even the famous director Frank Capra tries his hand at the films on lost worlds in 1937, with the film Lost horizon.
Due to the growing unrest in China, Western citizens are being repatriated. The man who organized the evacuation, the British diplomat, military man and scholar Robert Conway, gets on the last plane, with his brother George, the paleontologist Alexander Lovett, the bankrupt businessman Henry Barnard and a seriously ill woman. Gloria Stone. Their plane is inexplicably hijacked by an eastern pilot and ends up crashing in a remote area of the Himalayan mountains. They are rescued by the mysterious Chang and taken to an isolated valley where the idyllic community called Shangri-La rises, an oasis of peace founded over two centuries earlier by a Belgian missionary to preserve humanity’s best results from the continuous conflicts of the outside world.
The first sci fi series appears in 1936 with Flash Gordon. A mysterious planet is about to collide with Earth, threatening the extinction of the human race. Polo champion Flash Gordon and Dale Arden after parachuting from the plane they were on board, destroyed by meteorites, board the rocket designed by Dr. Zarkov, in a mad attempt to reach the planet and hijack it from its trajectory . Thrown into infinite space, they land on the planet Mongo and fall into the clutches of the merciless Ming Emperor. Film in 13 episodes lasting about 20 minutes each, had two sequels: Flash Gordon conquering Mars (1938) and Flash Gordon – Conqueror of the universe (1940).
1940s Sci fi movies
The mad scientist character returns in Dr. Cyclops in 1940, the first film to use high-impact special effects with Technicolor technology. The director of the film is the same as King Kong, Ernest B. Schoedsack. In this film, after the enormous success of King Kong, he decides to focus again on an adventure in a jungle. This time it is an expedition in search of a new technology that can make humans smaller.
Scientist Thorkel carries out mysterious experiments in a remote region of Peru and invites a group of American scientists into the laboratory. His goal is for them to verify the accuracy of his experiments. The mountain near the lab has a large amount of uranium in its mines.
The Mad Monster
The Mad Monster of Sam Newfield tells of a blood transfusion that transforms a gardener into a monstrous werewolf. In The Woman and the Monster, 1944, a human brain is made to live after the death of its owner.
Full moon night in a landscape similar to a foggy moor a wolf howls. In a laboratory, Dr. Lorenzo Cameron is drawing blood from a caged wolf. Tied to a table lies Doctor Cameron’s gardener, Petro, on whom Cameron is carrying out his crazy experiment: injecting a serum with wolf blood into his veins. Petro then slowly passes out as his body begins to transform until he becomes a werewolf.
Krakatit other hand, is a Czechoslovakian sci fi movies from 1948 by director Otakar Vàvra, where a mad scientist must face the danger of a new atomic bomb.
After an explosion in the laboratory, its inventor enters a state of constant hallucinations. He realizes that he has given the formula of a very dangerous explosive to a colleague of his and that what he has done may threaten the survival of humanity.
The sci fi movies of the 50s
The sci fi movies genre, however, was officially created only starting from the 50s, when there is a vast production of sci fi movies that tell in a veiled way the fears of the cold war. The science fiction production of the 1950s focuses above all on the relationship between man and space: conquests of other planets, explorations, extraterrestrials arriving on Earth.
The independent director Roger Corman explores different subgenres of science fiction, from horror science fiction to adventures on other planets. Often they are low-cost films made in a few days, with little-known actors, with cheap sets and special effects, sometimes grotesque. It is about the b-movie.
The sci fi genre explodes in the United States, initially in comic book printing aimed at a teen audience. Then you get to the cinema, with films and cartoons. Many films are produced, both in the big studios and among independent productions, also inspired by the prolific industry of missiles and aerospace rockets that the US uses in the race to conquer space.contributed to the success of sci fi movies UFO sightings and the birth of ufology
The Day the Earth Stood
One of the great films of the decade is The Day the Earth Stood of Robert Wise. It is a 1951 film that tells the arrival of an evolved extraterrestrial being on planet earth, populated by still primitive humans.
Klaatu is a peaceful extraterrestrial with totally human-like features who lands with his flying saucer in Washington. He is welcomed by the army in war gear. When he raises his hand to greet a soldier, thinking that the extraterrestrial is arming himself, he shoots him and ends up in the hospital. Humans, suspicious by nature, have been accustomed to waging war for millennia, they do not trust him and his pacifist statements at all. They put him under surveillance. Klaatu realizes that he has landed on a difficult planet, which lives in a still primitive and aggressive state of consciousness. In reality, his mission is to save planet Earth.
The Thing from Another World
In the same year, another sci-fi film that became cult is also produced: The Thing from Another World by Howard Hawks.
Pat Hendry settles into a scientific research base with other scientists in Alaska. The professor. Carrington informs them that their mission is to investigate an extraterrestrial object stuck inside an ice floe. In the ice there is a spaceship but while they try to take it out with the explosion, the flying saucer is destroyed. They later discover the still intact body of a giant extraterrestrial who was probably one of the beings driving the flying saucer. Thus began the work to take it out of the ice and analyze it in the laboratory.
Ultimatum to the Earth and The Thing from Another World make a qualitative leap and are aimed at an adult audience with a higher moral and ethical vision.
Destination Moon by Irving Pichel, from 1950, anticipates the conquest of the moon by several years with an accurate scientific reconstruction of the technologies that will be used in reality.
Thayer convinces the US government to launch a satellite but after the launch the base loses control of the space object and is forced to destroy it by the USAF, after many efforts, convinces Congress and the Government to finance the construction of an artificial satellite . Shortly after launch, however, the missile exits the predetermined trajectory and the space project fails. Thayer believes it is sabotage but the government loses interest in the project. The man then turns to a wealthy businessman to find the necessary funds for his new idea: to reach the moon.
Conquest of Space
Conquest of Space, directed by Rudolph Matè in 1955, deals with the catastrophic sci fi subgenre. It is the story of an imminent catastrophe caused by the impact with another planet.
Pilot David Randall is paid by Dr. Cole Hendron to deliver photos of astronomer Emery Bronson, taken from an observatory in South Africa.
Hendon discovers that the red star “Bellus” is about to collide with planet Earth and the impact will cause the extinction of the human race and the destruction of the Earth’s surface. However, there seems to be a possibility: there is a planet named Zyra, which has the same conditions of livability as the earth and on which it could be possible to move.
The conquest of space
The conquest of space, in 1955, instead tells of an expedition to the planet Mars set in 1980 with a style of cinema-truth, with sets and special effects of an exceptional level for the time.
In 1980 humans managed to create a community in space called “The Wheel”. It is a space station in orbit 1730 km above the Earth; the station is commanded by Colonel Samuel T. Merritt. His son Barney would like to return to Earth after being stuck aboard for a year. The crew worked for years building a spacecraft to reach the moon. But the project is rewarded and taken to the next level by a delegation from Earth. Merritt can aim for the conquest of Mars.
Battle Beyond the Sun
Battle Beyond the Sun is a valuable Russian film by Mikhail Karyukov, made in 1959, at a time when the Soviet Union was the main opponent of the United States in the space race.
During the space race competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, an American spaceship finds itself in danger as it attempts to reach the planet Mars. But it is saved precisely by the Soviet enemies who are trying to carry out the same space enterprise.
War of the Worlds
Director Byron Haskin made another version of War of the Worlds, in 1953, with more realistic and evil alien invaders than the previous film.
The planet Earth, always at war as evidenced by the initial black and white images of the film, now must wage a conflict with aliens determined to conquer it. In fact, they chose it because it is the planet with the best conditions where their species can survive. The other planets have difficult conditions and inhabitants that are very difficult to conquer.
A strange red object that looks like a meteor crashes into the California woods. It is still too hot to study, but it does not resemble anything known. The aliens are about to launch their attack on the planet.
It came from Outer Space
The alien invasions return to It came from Outer Space. It is a film based on a story by famous sci fi writer Ray Bradbury, the first Hollywood project shot in 3D.
A meteorite falls in the Arizona desert. John Putman, an amateur astronomer, and his fiancée, Ellen Fields, rush to the crash site, an old mine. They discover that the fallen object is actually a spaceship, hexagonal in shape and similar to a large luminescent crystal. A landslide hides the spacecraft and when Putnam tells the village what he has seen no one believes him. In the following days in the small town of Arizona many people mysteriously disappear. They reappear in the following days but they no longer seem the same: they show a strange, mechanical behavior: as if they were remote control robots.
Invaders From Mars
Invaders from Mars was made in 1958 by director William Cameron Menzies. A little boy playing with his telescope sees a spaceship land in a field near his home. He runs to wake up the sleeping parents to warn them. But the man and the woman believe it is a fictional story that the son has made up. Then they are convinced to explore the area near their home. The father, while they are crossing a small bridge in the countryside, is sucked underground by quicksand, without the mother and son noticing anything.
The Quatermass Experiment
The Quatermass Experiment, 1955, directed by Val Guest, is a film commissioned by British BBC television. It is the first of three titles dedicated to the character of Quatermass.
The orbital flight of the first British manned rocket abruptly ends in the English countryside; the designer Bernard Quatermass arrives but of the three crew members the astronaut Victor Caroon survived, in a catatonic state. Hospitalized and unable to respond, doctors notice the gradual mutation of his body has begun. Terrified and aided by his wife unaware of his state, Caroon escapes making victims, both human and animal, horribly deprived of internal organs, to appropriate the vital energy. Quatermass understands the nature of the danger and decides to stop it.
Earth vs. Flying Saucers
Earth vs. Flying Saucers (1956), a sci fi cult by director Fred F. Sears, specializing mainly in westerns, is a film that uses interesting step-one animation techniques .
Dr. Russell Marvin works on a military base on the “Sky Hook” project, to put innovative satellites into orbit. To do this, missiles are launched but all Riccardo know-how on earth with disastrous consequences. What went wrong? Investigating it turns out that the difficulties are created by an alien spaceship. The aliens in fact think that the missiles are directed against them and try to defend themselves. The aliens try to communicate peacefully with the Grounders, but Marvin instead launches an attack on the alien spaceship. However, it turns out to be indestructible, protected by an invisible shield.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
A great result is also obtained by Don Siegel with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which anticipates the theme then taken up by John Carpenter in The Thing: aliens who take the place of human beings by becoming theirs. perfect copies.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell tells colleague Hill a story that is hard to believe. The town of Santa Mira has been invaded by extraterrestrials who clone people while they sleep, taking their place. The aliens breed in huge pods that grow until they create copies of the victims, but devoid of feelings, then killing the originals. Bennell tries to sound the alarm, but no one believes him: the inhabitants are now doubled. He tries to escape together with his girlfriend but during the journey the woman is unable to stay awake and falls asleep, being contaminated, and in turn becoming a replicant.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space
The same story line I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) by Gene Fowler Jr. Sci fi cinema perfectly interprets the fears of an era: nuclear war, cold war espionage, underground conflict with the Soviet Union.
Bill Farrell is abducted by aliens. The project of the extraterrestrial creatures is to replace human beings with perfect copies of their bodies to avoid extinction. Bill’s duplicate gets married and moves in with his wife, but the woman notices her husband’s strange changes. Until one night he follows him and sees the extraterrestrial creature come out of the man’s body. She tries to warn the police chief that her husband is actually a monster but the authorities don’t believe him.
This Island Earth
This Island Earth, 1955, by Joseph M. Newman, aliens arrive on Earth with good intentions but the dangers present themselves nonetheless.
Cal Meacham buys a product from a mysterious company to build a piece of equipment called the Interocitor. The equipment puts him in contact with a guy named Exeter. He invites him to join him at his scientific laboratory located in a remote location in Georgia, where he has assembled a group of scientists to free the world from wars and advance humanity from an ethical point of view. Cal discovers, however, that the scientists collaborating on the project have been deprived of free will and decides to rebel against Exeter. Universal’s first full-color sci-fi film, it’s a classic of the romantic sci-fi genre.
The Space Children
In The Space Children, 1958, there is a message of hope in which it is the new younger generations who can save humanity. Director Jack Arnold has since made several other sci fi cults taking the genre to the next level, dealing with busy issues such as racism, intolerance and discrimination against minorities.
A satellite with dangerous nuclear warheads is about to be launched by a group of scientists. The children of these scientists discover a huge alien brain in a cave that communicates with them via brain waves. The brain warns children that the parents’ experiment will destroy human civilization and gives them instructions on how to sabotage the project. Children get to work to prevent nuclear warheads from being launched. In this film there is a reversal of roles between good and evil: this time the villains are the terrestrial scientists and not the aliens.
The Monolith Monsters
In 1957 The Monolith Monsters by John Sherwood, the enemy arrives on earth via a meteorite and is a strange alloy of metal that grows and destroys entire cities.
A large meteorite crashes into the Southern California desert and explodes in hundreds of black fragments that have strange properties. When those fragments are exposed to water, they grow and become large and tall. The fragments begin to slowly petrify some of the inhabitants of a nearby town. When Dave Miller, the head of the San Angelo District Geological Bureau, returns from a business trip, he finds Ben’s body in a rock-petrified state. Dave’s girlfriend, teacher Cathy Barrett, takes her students on a desert trip; young Ginny Simpson pockets a piece of the black rock of the meteorite.
The meteor is also the danger in The Blob, but this time it brings a gooey liquid to the planet that engulfs everything. sci fi movie cult horror, with Steve McQueen for the first time in a starring role.
An elderly gentleman discovers a meteor in the Pennsylvania countryside. From it comes a strange fluid that sticks to his hands. The man runs away in terror and is nearly hit by a young engaged couple. The two boys take him to a doctor for an examination. The doctor looks at the old man’s hands and analyzes the liquid without being able to understand what it is. At that moment the alien fluid engulfs the old man and kills him. The doctor takes the gun to defend himself but in the meantime his nurse is assaulted by the fluid and incorporated into it. The doctor, shocked, shoots the monstrous creature several times without being able to stop it.
The Creature from The Black Lagoon
In the famous cult film The Creature from The Black Lagoon by Jack Arnold on the other hand, the monster does not come from outer space.
While exploring the Amazon River, a group of scientists find a prehistoric lagoon, where Gill-Man, a being half fish and half man, is hiding. The scientists manage to catch the monster only after he has killed some of the crew members, but the mysterious creature still manages to escape. Despite the opposition of the expedition’s financier who sees in his capture a possibility of enrichment, the members of the expedition decide that the best solution is to escape. But the only exit from the lagoon was blocked by some logs placed by the monster.
The fear of World War III and the radiation caused by an atomic war returns in Them! by Gordon Douglas from 1954. This time the killer monsters are gigantic ants grown from radiation.
Two policemen are on patrol in the New Mexico desert. They find a girl in shock and a wrecked trailer. They call an ambulance to take the girl to the hospital. Robert Graham, a federal police officer, begins investigating the case. Meanwhile, prof. Medford, an elderly scientist who visits the little girl. He makes her smell a bottle of formic acid: the girl wakes up from hypnosis and starts screaming. While exploring the desert, the policemen and the scientist discover something incredible: a colony of ants has been contaminated by radiation following an atomic explosion that took place nine years earlier: they have become gigantic aggressive monsters.
Radiation is the theme around which innumerable films of the 50s revolve, the cause of the birth of monsters. Like the ferocious dinosaur that comes out of the seas of Japan Godzilla, 1954 film from Japanese director ishiro Honda, which was a huge success.
A fleet of fishing boats off the coast of Japan mysteriously disappears. Authorities investigate possible underwater volcanic activity that caused them to sink. But one evening a gigantic creature 50 meters high destroys a fishing village. A young navy officer called to investigate discovers that the natives of the island of Odo, where the disaster occurred, call this creature Godzilla. It is a giant dinosaur that survived extinction that lived in the seabed. Now Godzilla has absorbed nuclear radiation by becoming aggressive and is able to launch deadly radiation from his mouth, destroying everything in his way.
Tarantula, from 1955, also by Jack Arnold, and a story populated by terrible giant spiders. Assistant scientist Gerald Deemer, who performs mysterious experiments at his mansion, is found dead in the Arizona desert near Desert Rock. Cops investigate the scientist. In fact, Deemer is creating a serum capable of making animals grow in an incredible way: a tarantula that acts as a guinea pig has already reached the height of one meter. His assistant had decided to stop the scientist’s experiments by setting fire to the laboratory.
It Came from Beneath the Sea
There is also a giant octopus in Robert Gordon’s It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955). A US submarine is attacked by a giant octopus but manages to escape. When he returns to the United States, some biologists examine the fragment of the octopus skin that was stuck in the submarine’s propeller. They discover that it is a gigantic creature that lives in the depths of the sea near the Philippine Islands. Nuclear tests carried out in that area have now made it very aggressive and dangerous. Numerous reports of ships and fishing boats arrive at the base of the navy indicating that the monster is approaching the American coasts. In fact, he arrives on the Oregon coast and kills a local sheriff.
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Killer crabs star in Attack of the Crab Monsters (1956) by Roger Corman. On a distant Pacific island, a group of scientists is studying the causes of the effects of radiation on plants and animals, a test that began years earlier. All the scientists who preceded them were killed by huge mutant crabs. The new scientists were not long in being attacked by monsters. They try to defend themselves from the crabs with weapons but they are invulnerable: their cellular structure has changed. If the crabs reproduce they could colonize oceans around the world.
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The theme of science that makes discoveries and produces monstrous inventions capable of endangering the survival of humanity continues with a long list of films. A diabolical invention manages to reduce humans to microscopic size in Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). A theme revived later in other films such as the recent Downsizing by Alexander Payne, in 2007, a funny and grotesque satire on capitalism and on mass approval.
Scott Carrey, during a speedboat trip, is hit by a strange radioactive cloud. In the following weeks it begins to lose weight and become smaller and smaller. He loses his job and his social contacts, tries to console himself by making friends with a dwarf. But when he gets even smaller he is forced to live in a doll’s house. His wife looks after him and helplessly watches his progressive shrinkage.
The misadventures of a scientist losing control over his experiments are the focus The Fly, 1958.
Helene Delambre confesses to police that she killed her husband, a scientist, by crushing him with a hydraulic press. The woman seems to have gone mad and gives no reasons for her crime. But her brother-in-law realizes that she is nervous when she sees a fly, and makes her believe she has found the fly she was looking for. Helene tells him an absurd story: her husband had made a device capable of teleporting matter. The scientist, after having ascertained that the device worked on objects, had decided to test it on himself convinced that it was possible to dematerialize and teleport human bodies with the same ease. When he got into the car he hadn’t seen that there was also a fly. The experiment had turned into a tragedy: in the arrival cabin had materialized a man with an insect’s head and leg and an insect with a tiny head and a man’s arm.
Invention for Destruction
Outside the United States and Hollywood there are other countries like Czechoslovakia that produce very interesting films on the subject of the danger that comes from corrupt science. For example Invention for Destruction (Vynález skázy, 1958) by Karel Zeman, in which a scientist who created an explosive that can threaten the destiny of humanity chooses his sacrifice in order not to deliver the invention into the hands of dangerous people.
World Without End
With World Without End, 1956, by Edward Bernds, we can instead in the sci fi sub-genre of time travel. This film is the first experiment of a genre that will establish itself over the following decades, reaching the pinnacle of success in 1980s films such as Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future.
Year 1957: Some astronauts have to understand if it is possible to colonize Mars and leave for the red planet; but when the on-board instrumentation fails, the crew passes out, and upon awakening they discover they have landed on a dangerous unknown planet. However, the atmosphere seems breathable. The astronauts will discover that it is not an unknown planet, but the Earth in the year 2508. There was a terrible nuclear war in 2188 and the population hid underground.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
In the meantime, cinema technology has also moved on and many sci fi movies can be enjoyed by audiences in CinemaScope. An interesting version of Jules Verne’s novels 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) by Richard Fleischer. Cinematic work that anticipates the current of steampunk, is the fourth adaptation of the novel by Jules Verne.
We are in 1868. A dangerous sea monster sinks all the ships it finds along its path. Professor Pierre Aronnax, natural scientist, is called to take part in the expedition to find the monster and embarks on the motor sailing ship Abraham Lincoln. After many months of navigation they find nothing and are about to return to base. But just then a lookout man spots something gigantic. The motor sailer opens fire in an attempt to kill the monster but the ship is rammed and sinks. Professor Aronnax and his assistant Council end up in the sea. After many hours they manage to escape to safety on what appears to be a floating island. In reality they realize that it is the monster itself: a monster that is a submarine boat.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1959, by Henry Levinis probably one of the most fascinating sci fi movies ever made about the discovery of a lost world, which this time is in the bowels of the earth.
Edinburgh, late 19th century. Professor Oliver Lindenbrook receives as a gift from his students a fragment of volcanic rock with an unusually high specific gravity. He tries to melt the rock to analyze it, but the furnace he is using explodes. Thus he discovers a lava fragment bearing ancient engravings. These are indications left by the explorer Arne Saknussemm to access a passage towards the center of the Earth. Lindenbrook writes to Professor Götaborg in Stockholm for a consultation. After a while without a response, Lindenbrook and his protégé Alec leave for the place indicated by the inscriptions, in Iceland. Here they discover that Gothenburg was killed, and that he was about to steal the discovery from him, setting off on his own expedition.
1984 by Michael Anderson is the first cinematographic work inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian novel.
In 1984 the world is divided into three big blocs: Oceania, Eurasia and Estasia, perpetually at war with each other. London is the capital of Oceania and power is held by the dictatorial regime of Big Brother, leader of the one party. The lives of all citizens are monitored by means of television screens carrying cameras. Winston Smith and Julia, despite being integrated into the system, have some doubts about the world in which they live and find themselves involved in a love relationship, a feeling forbidden by the regime.
1984 (tv version)
Television also makes a television version of Orwell’s novel entitled 1984. Orwell’s most controversial film adaptation of 1984, which prompted questions in the British Parliament about its alleged subversive nature. TV movie rated by the British Film Institute as one of the best British television programs of the 20th century. The planet is divided into 3 states: Oceania, Eurasia and Estasia, which have always been in conflict. In London, the dictator of the state of Oceania is Big Brother, which controls the population through a policy of violent repression and video cameras located everywhere. Winston and Julia fall in love, but love is strictly forbidden and punished with death. Dark environments that perfectly convey the despair of this famous dystopian work.
Sci-Fi movies from the 60s
In the 60s, thanks also to movements such as the French Nouvelle Vague, sci fi cinema is used by many director-authors to make theirs arthouse films. These are completely different films from those of the 50s where the special effects and the spectacular scenographic component are completely secondary, if not entirely absent.
One of the most innovative sci fi movies and La Jetée, by Chris Marker, 1962, an experimental film made exclusively with still images. It is an existentialist film that deals with the theme of time travel with a philosophical perspective.
At the Paris airport, a child witnesses the murder of a man. The images of that moment remain etched in his mind, along with the face of a woman staring at him. Some time later the Third World War broke out and the French were forced to take refuge underground to escape the German invaders. Paris and probably the whole planet is contaminated with atomic radiation. The only way out of the conflict and seek salvation is through time travel.
I Love You, I Love You
Another French filmmaker was inspired by Marker’s film with the film I Love You, I Love You, 1968, by Alain Resnais.
Claude Ridder is struck by a deep disappointment in love and wants to commit suicide, but the attempt fails. He discovers he is the guinea pig of an experiment by a group of scientists who are experimenting with time travel. He is sent back to a past episode in his life, which took place on a beach. An episode that obsessively repeats itself without end. Then a machine malfunction causes him to wander aimlessly through his memories. And again he has to deal with the disappointments of his life and with the thought of suicide.
But the greatest transformations of sci fi cinema into arthouse cinema can be found thanks to the filmmakers of the Nouvelle Vague who introduce elements never seen before in their sci fi movies. For example, sex, the grotesque element, social criticism, and existentialist reflection.
Many French avant-garde directors will experience the genre of science fiction: Jean-Luc Godard, with Alphaville, 1965, a parody of Hollywood spy cinema with a fierce criticism of capitalist society and a dystopian vision of society.
From the future comes agent Lemmy Caution, under the false name of Ivan Johnson, is a correspondent for the Figaro-Pravda newspaper, in the city of Alphaville, the capital of another galaxy. To take care of the total management of the company on this planet is a supercomputer called Alpha 60, created by prof. Nosferatu, which banishes all individual emotions and all illogical behavior. Among the seductresses of the hotel where he is staying, Caution meets the daughter of the professor who invented the supercomputer and who now goes by the name of Nosferatu. His mission is to bring him back to earth.
François Truffaut filmed Fahrenheit 451 in 1966, a transposition of Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name.
A patrol of firefighters patrols the city, enters the houses with the aim of finding literary novels and burning them with their flamethrowers. Montag, the fire captain gets promoted for the rigor and quality of his Triumphant Homecoming But his wife is more interested in the TV quiz he’s following and his pills.
In 1968 another French director Roger Vadim made Barbarella, a sci fi movie with elements of comedy that experimented with a new genre by recounting the grotesque erotic space adventures of the protagonist.
Barbarella is commissioned by the prime minister to find the scientist Durand Durand, who has mysteriously disappeared. Thus begins a journey into space made up of many encounters in which he will show his uninhibited sexuality. At one point in his Space Travel he will arrive in the city of Sogo, where the population feeds on a substance that feeds evil and perversion.
The Time Machine
In Hollywood, meanwhile, the production of traditional sci fi movies, based on special effects, sets and dangerous monsters, continues unabated. A memorable one cult film of the 60s is The Time Machine (1960) of George Pal, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the most visionary adventures concerning the theme of time travel, taken from a novels by HG Wells.
We are in England in the late 1800s. George Wells has built a time machine and invites his friends to show him. The men are not convinced that the device really works and Wells decides to directly experience the journey into the future on himself, giving them an appointment a few days later. Thus begins an absurd journey into the future in which Wells learns that he has disappeared and tries to find himself.
Village of the Damned
Village of the Damned, 1960, chronicles an alien invasion by extraterrestrial children in a village in the English countryside, and has had two sequels, Children of the Damned, 1963, by Anton Leader, and John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned, in 1995.
In Midwich, a small English village, really strange events happen, people faint and faint for a long time and when they wake up all the women in the village are pregnant. also virgins and those who have not had any sexual intercourse. Thus children very similar to each other are born almost simultaneously, apparently normal human beings but with cold and disturbing behavior. Children also have paranormal psychic abilities. The country becomes dominated by these strange beings.
The Day of the Triffids
The threat of evil aliens continues in The Day of the Triffids, adaptation of the the English writer John Wyndham published in 1951.
The earth is bombarded by a rain of meteorites and all who observe it go blind. The seeds of triffids, plants capable of detaching themselves from the ground, attacking people and feeding on human flesh, are spread all over the world. Bill Masen, a British naval officer, did not go blind because he had a blindfold due to convalescence after surgery. Meet Susan, a little girl who ran away from boarding school, who has also avoided blindness. He adopts it and together they go to France where they discover communities of sighted people who assist the blind.
Quatermass and the Pit – Five Million Years to Earth
Quatermass and the Pit – Five Million Years to Earth, 1967, by Roy Ward Baker. In this film, the aliens are hiding underground and are found during the construction of the London Underground Line.
During excavations for the construction of the London Underground, workers find the skull of a humanoid creature and entire skeletons. Later you also found me a strange metal object. According to professor quatermass it is an alien spaceship. Meanwhile, the authorities communicate the discovery of a German missile that fell during the Second World War.
The 10th Victim
In Italy, except for the B series films, the sci fi genre is not widely practiced. However, some notable films are certainly made, such as The 10th Victim by Elio Petri.
In a dystopian future, human violence and destructiveness is contained through a project called the great hunt that allows its participants a license to kill. The aim is to prevent new world wars. It is conceived as a kind of game where hunter and victim participate. Those who survive at least 10 hunting sessions are rewarded with fame, money and honors. The young American Caroline Meredith is aiming for the prize and must eliminate her latest victim, a peaceful Marcello Poletti.
Terror in Space
Terror in Space is a fictional horror by Mario Bava of the same year, both made in 1965. The Mario Bava film would have served as inspiration for Ridley Scott to shoot Alien.
Two spaceships are exploring space and receive a distress call from Aura, an unknown planet. They decide to land by finding a desolate and lifeless landscape. The astronauts are engulfed by an unknown energy to kill each other. Only Captain Markary has the will to resist, managing to arouse the other crew members from the violent hypnotic state.
Other cult films of the period are Fantastic Voyage, 1966, Richard Fleischer, Oscar winner for extraordinary special effects. The lost world to explore this time is inside the human body.
Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s novel of the same name, the film follows the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union in the competition to create a technology that can reduce any material object to microscopic dimensions for 60 minutes. Jan Benes, a scientist, discovers how to increase the duration of the shrink in an unlimited way and with the help of the CIA you manage to escape from the Iron Curtain in the west, but is the victim of an attack. Hospitalized in a coma, US doctors try to save him to learn about his findings on miniaturization.
At the end of the sixties, sci fi movies and novels are enriched with political and sociological themes. The events are often inserted into one dystopian scenario. Directors and screenwriters perceive an impending danger in social reality, linked to power and totalitarianisms.
Planet of the Apes
In 1968 Planet of the Apes by Franklin Schaffner, transforming the classic idea of Bivona into something different. A high-budget film, with amazing special effects, starring a star like Charlton Heston. The b-movie story is enriched with a more mature and conscious style, with different food for thought.
In 1972 a group of astronauts hibernates to undertake a journey into space that will last 700 years aboard the spaceship Icarus. The goal is to find a new world that can be colonized by humans and that favors the development of a more intelligent and peaceful civilization. But while they travel in hibernation their spaceship crashes into a lake on an uninhabited planet. The astronauts are automatically revived by the computer and discover that one of them has died in space from a technical failure in the cockpit. Meanwhile the spaceship is sinking in the lake and they have to get to safety.
2001: A Space Odyssey
But 1968 is especially the year of 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968, by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick combines spectacular high-budget science fiction cinema with spiritual and existential reflection. He also packages the film with an avant-garde style that surpasses even the authors of the Nouvelle Vague. 2001 A Space Odyssey is probably the pinnacle of science fiction cinema in the history of cinema.
Science fiction journey told on different temporal planes. From the prehistory of the ape-men we move on to astronauts at the end of the 1990s. The space mission Jupiter discovers during a mission to the Moon a gigantic monolith, the same one discovered by primitive men in the first chapter. Immortal masterpiece of the science fiction genre 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film composed as a musical score divided into four parts, with an opening sequence and an intermission. Almost exclusively visual cinematic tale, with very few dialogues, is one of the most amazing figurative works ever made.
Science fiction movies of the 70s
No Blade of Grass
The 70s produced a long series of cult movies, especially in the apocalyptic and dystopian vein. No Blade of Grass, 1970, by Cornel Wilde.
In a dark future, a mysterious virus prevents plants from growing and destroys all crops. Humanity no longer knows how to feed itself and ferocious riots break out everywhere. A London family travels to the countryside hoping to save themselves. On the way, however, he meets unscrupulous gangs of criminals and the checkpoints of government authorities that prevent him from moving.
The Omega Man
In The Omega Man, by Boris Sagal, based on a novel by Richard Matheson, few surviving humans have mutated into vampires.
The only survivor of a bacteriological war unleashed by China and Russia is called Robert Neville and is a former military doctor. Now he tries to survive in the spooky and uninhabited city of Los Angeles by getting the basic necessities. After sunset he is forced to defend himself from the assaults of a group of human beings called the family that the bacteriological war has transformed into violent albinos that cannot stand the sun’s rays. Their leader Matthias guides these beings every night to destroy with fire all that remains of the technological civilization. Neville represents for them the last vestige of an era that must be permanently erased.
The Andromeda Strain
The Andromeda Strain by Robert Wise, in which an alien organism threatens life on Earth.
A military team must recover a satellite that has landed in a remote area of New Mexico, but the men of the expedition lose all radio contact with the base. A team of scientists working in the Nevada desert makes an aerial survey of the area and discovers that the villagers have all died after the satellite’s landing. Dr. Mark and Dr. Jeremy wear diving suits to get to town and retrieve the satellite. They find it open in a doctor’s office: probably some pathogenic organism that caused the massacre came out of it. However, there are two survivors: an elderly man in a state of shock and a baby who cries constantly.
Soylent Green, 1973, by Richard Fleischer is instead a disturbing story on the increasingly topical theme of overpopulation.
We are in 2022 and the planet Earth is reduced in disastrous conditions due to pollution and overpopulation. Nature has almost completely disappeared. The temperature remains above 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Metropolises like New York are inhabited by tens of millions of people living in poverty sleeping on the stairs of dilapidated apartment buildings. The consumer society and technology are disappearing because raw materials no longer exist. Often there is no electricity, food and water are rationed. A priest tries to help the poor by letting them sleep in his church, while in the rich neighborhoods life is still sustainable: there is air conditioning, running water and television. But meat has become very rare and sold at prohibitive prices even for the wealthy.
THX 1138 is debut film George Lucas, also set in a dystopian future.
In the 25th century, humanity has fallen into one dystopian scenario terrifying the population lives underground controlled by the machines that organize everything. The minds of human beings are totally conditioned by a dictatorial regime that supplies drugs to escape from reality. Religion has become just an outlet for its own sake. The men no longer have names but are called with numbers, they are all shaved to zero and dressed in white. Every manifestation of the individual personality has disappeared. Those who do not obey the government are beaten on live television or killed. Sex is practiced as an outlet with erotic holograms and reproduction is programmed with artificial insemination. The allocation of accommodation is also decided by computers.
In Westworld, 1973, by Michael Crichton, robots living in an amusement park become dangerous killers. The theme of robots with artificial intelligence is a sub-genre of science fiction destined to have more and more productions, also of growing relevance today.
In the year 2000, human beings now coexist with perfect androids capable of feeling emotions and using the physical body just like real men. In the city of Delos an amusement park has been created for wealthy tourists where you can experience adventures in different historical periods, like in a movie. The extras and actors of the park are androids who interact with visitors to entertain them. These robots are monitored by humans in a control room. But there are sudden breakdowns in the computer system: a robot-snake bites the tourist John Blaine and a robot courtesan drastically refuses the seduction attempts of another tourist.
Zardoz (1974) John Boorman and Logan ‘s Run (1976) Michael Anderson are post-apocalyptic and dystopian tales where artificial intelligence is taking over humanity.
We are in the year 2293 and the planet Earth is dominated by a band of killer fanatics called the Exterminators. They are led by a mysterious deity who, Zardoz, mercilessly kill every man they find in their way. Zardoz, a cyclopean stone head capable of flying, continually orders them to kill. The goal is to purify the planet of all human forms that are carriers of corruption and degradation.
Rollerball (1975) Norman Jewison deals with the violent power of the gods mass media. In 2018 the world is run by a single world government that ensures a life without wars, crimes, violence and poverty. Nations no longer exist and well-being is not denied to anyone. One of the main entertainment is Rollerball, an extremely violent mass entertainment used by governments as a means of social control. It is a sporting challenge in which two teams made up of runners on roller skates and motorcycles face each other on a circular track trying to hit a magnetic hole with a steel ball.
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976, by Nicolas Roeg, tells the dramatic story of an alien who gets stuck on Earth.
A tramp with a British passport goes to a jewelry store in a small town in Kentucky to sell a gold wedding band. Some time later, a New York lawyer specializing in industrial patents receives a visit from Newton, who asks him for an analysis of the patents of his inventions. The lawyer realizes that they are revolutionary patents in the fields of Electronics, Chemistry, Photography and Music. A chemistry professor at the University of Chicago intrigued by a new photographic process, he abandons his work to devote himself to this innovative technique.
Some interesting works by comedy science fiction like the Woody Allen movie The Sleeper, from 1971.
We are in the year 2173. The United States of America no longer exists, destroyed by an atomic and is under a dictatorship. The body of Miles Monroe, who lived in 1973, owner of a vegetarian restaurant and jazz clarinetist, is awakened by a group of doctors from the state of hibernation in which he had been placed 200 years earlier after a surgical operation that ended badly. As he has no identity and is not registered, he must investigate the IRES, designed to eradicate the leader’s resistance to the dictatorial regime.
Frankenstein Junior by Mel Brooks (1974), is a parody of the Frankenstein films.
The young doctor Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of Doctor Frankenstein, changed the pronunciation of his surname to Frankenstin to distinguish himself from his grandfather, whose crazy medical theories he rejects. After a lecture at the university where he teaches, he insists on considering the reconstruction techniques of the human nervous system absurd, he receives a visit from a notary who tells him that he has inherited his grandfather’s castle. Frederick goes to Romania, where he meets the hunchbacked helper Igor, grandson of his grandfather’s old assistant, the busty assistant Inga and the sinister and mysterious Frau Blücher: the pronunciation of her name is enough to terrify the horses and make them neigh. Blücher, who was the Baron’s lover, makes Frederick read his grandfather’s notes: he questions his prejudices and begins to think about continuing the experiments to give life to a creature.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show by Jim Sharman from 1975, is a musical comedy inspired by the story of Frankenstein, shot with a psychedelic style, between sex and rock music.
A criminologist tells the story of two young men, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. In November 1974, the two boys participate in a wedding of two of their friends, after which Brad asks Janet to marry him. The two decide to go and visit one of their former university lecturers, Dr. Scott, but during the journey they get lost in a forest at night in the middle of a strong storm, while on the radio Nixon announces his resignation. Left with a punctured tire, the two boys go to look for a telephone in a nearby castle; to welcome them they find the factotum Riff Raff and the maid Magenta, who take them to the main hall, where the meeting of the Transylvanians, who dance the Time Warp, is taking place. The performance scares Janet who asks Brad to leave. At that moment the ambiguous Dr. Frank-N-Furter enters the scene and invites them to go to his laboratory.
Dark Star is the first film by the genius John Carpenter, shot in 1974 with a surreal and comic style about space travel.
The Dark Star spaceship explores space and unknown planets to aid human colonization. the crew members, including the deceased commander who has been hibernated, do not get along at all. Some of them are disheartened by life in space and want to return to earth, others are arrogant and misbehaving. In addition, the operation of a self-destruct mechanism of the spaceship is accidentally triggered and an alien who has been rescued by the crew creates chaos and must be stunned with a tranquilizer dart.
In the seventies, the great Russian director Andrej Tarkovskij made two sci fi movies: Solaris and Stalker, shot respectively in 1972 and 1979. They are among the most beautiful arthouse films ever made in the science fiction genre.
The planet Solaris and its mysterious gelatinous ocean have been the subject of study on Earth for several years. Psychologist Kris Kelvin leaves for the science station that orbits Solaris and joins the crew, now reduced to 3 people. Leaving the Earth he is aware that the journey will be very long and that he will never see his father again. He receives a visit from a family friend who warns him of mysterious events that would have happened years earlier on the planet: the commission that manages the study project had defined him as a madman in hallucinations. Affected, arrived on the space station, Hris witnesses strange phenomena, including the suicide of a crew member.
A poor man, accompanied by a writer and a professor, ventures into a forbidden territory called La Zona, where not even the military dare to enter. It is a ruined rural area where mysterious phenomena occur. The legend says that inside the Zone there is a room where the most intimate and secret desires can be realized. To face the exploration, the three men make use of an expert guide of the territory called Stalker.
In the meantime, two blockbusters are produced in Hollywood destined to become the largest commercial gross in the history of cinema up to that moment: Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, made in the 1977. Star Wars by George Lucas bets everything on special effects, leaving aside the characters and the development of the plot, to focus on adventure in space and action.
Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to the planet Naboo to mediate a dispute between the Galactic Republic and the corrupt Federation of Traders, employed by the Dark Lord of the Sith. After the mediation fails, they meet a Gungan named Jar Jar Binks and decide to help Queen Padmé Amidala leave the planet to report the crisis to the Senate of the Republic.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg humanizes the figure of the extraterrestrial to the point of transforming the film into a fairy tale for children, a style that he will retain even later with ET the extraterrestrial.
In the Sonoran desert, the French scientist Claude Lacombe, together with other scientific researchers, find the famous “Squadriglia 19”, 5 planes that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle area in December 1945. The aircraft are intact and functioning, but there is no trace of the pilots. This and other strange events begin to be investigated in an attempt to find an explanation. Meanwhile in Muncie, Indiana, a three-year-old boy, Barry Guiler, suddenly wakes up in the night at a time when his toys and belongings in his house start incredibly moving on their own.
Star Trek Star
Wars is inspired by the subsequent Star Trek, in 1979, directed by Robert Wise, which will also become a popular television series.
Planet Earth is threatened by a mysterious alien entity, which is approaching it at great speed in the form of a nebula, leaving behind a trail of relentless destruction. The dangerous Klingon cruisers and a terrestrial outpost are paying for it, dissolved by spheres of energy, scanned and reduced to data.
The black hole
In 1979, Disney invests a huge budget to make the film The black hole.
On a space expedition to find habitable places in space, the land-based spaceship USS Palomino is on a return route to Earth. Their journey is interrupted by the discovery of a gigantic black hole with a mysterious spaceship in its vicinity, which somehow avoids being sucked in by the hole’s gravitational pull.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
In the same year, independent films with a less reassuring vision were made, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers of Philip Kaufman, a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers of 1956.
Creatures made of jelly depart from their dying planet and reach Earth, landing in San Francisco. The aliens fall on plants, turning into pods with pink flowers. Elizabeth Driscoll is one of the people who bring alien flowers into the house. The next morning, Elizabeth’s partner Geoffrey Howell starts acting very strange. Health Inspector Matthew Bennell advises her to see psychiatrist David Kibner, who is giving a presentation on his new book.
Capricorn One by Peter Hyams, is another indie film that instead tells a political conspiracy that organizes a fake space exploration to deceive the population.
In Cape Canaveral the spaceship of the Capricorn One. The purpose of the expedition is to reach Mars, after fifteen years of research and costly design. The crew consists of the military Charles Brubaker, commander of the mission, Peter Willis and the African American John Walker. The politicians, however, are not interested in the project. Dr. James Kelloway, creator of the project, knows a defect in a vital component to the mission, which could be lethal to the astronauts. In order to carry out the space mission, he invented a staging to avoid disputes of any kind.
Sci fi Movies of the 80s
Science fiction reaches the peak of its success in the 80s with some films becoming the highest grossing ever made. The other very successful genres are horror and fantasy. Hollywood commercial cinema begins the 1980s with two sequels to Star Wars: The Empire strikes back in 1980, by Irvin Kershner, and Return of the Jedi in 1983, by Richard Marquand. .
Flash Gordon returns in 1980 Mike Hodges, in the vein of Sci fi Movies inspired by comics. The treacherous galactic emperor Ming the Terrible locates the planet Earth and decides to annihilate it to fight boredom. Using his alien technology, Ming unleashes various natural disasters and besieges the planet’s surface by storming it with meteorites. One of these meteors crashes a private plane in which “Flash” Gordon, player of the New York Jets, and the journalist Dale Arden travel.
Joe Dante made Explorers in 1985. Ben, a young boy with a passion for science fiction, constantly dreams of flying on printed circuit boards. Intrigued, he takes note of the circuits he sees in a dream and one day shows them to his friend Wolfgang, a genius of computers and electronics. Wolfgang discovers that the circuits seen in Ben’s dreams can actually be built. After some daring experiments, they manage to fine-tune the circuit, apparently of an alien nature. The circuit allows the creation of a bubble of force that counteracts the law of gravity and inertia and can be controlled with the computer to travel in space.
Back to the future
Robert Zemeckis signs one of the cult movies of the youth of the 80s, Back To The Future.
Marty McFly is a high school student, lazy and often late but brave and kind, engaged to Jennifer Parker, his age and schoolmate. Marty dreams of becoming a rock star and plays the guitar in an amateur rock group, albeit without much luck: the group is in fact rejected the audition to play at the school dance. The boy longs for a better life and greater economic wealth and is tormented by the boring life he leads with his family. Her father George is bullied by Biff Tannen, now his boss, who smashed the car Marty was supposed to take Jennifer on vacation; his mother Lorraine is an alcoholic, disappointed in life.
Even the mix between science fiction and horror was very successful in the 80s with Ridley Scott ‘s 1979 Alien.
We are in 2122. The spaceship Nostromo is on its way back to Earth from the planet Thedus with a cargo of minerals. The crew, in a state of hypersleep, is made up of five men and two women. The computer controlling the spaceship picks up a strange distress signal from the satellite of an unknown planet and awakens the astronauts. The crew, even if they have serious doubts about what they are about to do, are obliged to investigate the procedures. Having landed in a spacecraft on the satellite’s surface, Dallas, Kane and Lambert don their spacesuits and go out to explore to locate the source of the distress call. After a short journey they find a huge alien wreck.
The same mix is in The Thing, made in 1982 by John Carpenter.
dog Siberian husky to kill him. The men of the base are shocked to witness the explosion of the helicopter, accidentally hit by a bomb that one of the Norwegians wanted to throw at the dog. The Norwegian survivor still tries to shoot the dog, but accidentally hits one of the team members; a shooting ensues and the Norwegian is killed. The US team, led by Commander Garry does not understand what is happening and decides to investigate the origin of the helicopter.
James Cameron made the sequel to Ridley Scott’s film Aliens.
After 57 years of hypersleep, in 2179, Ellen Ripley is rescued by the Gateway Space Station Recovery Team. Ripley’s return to Earth proves anything but heroic: the members of the company hold her responsible for the destruction of their spaceship Nostromo and are skeptical about the existence of the alien monster that would have exterminated the crew, so they suspend her license to flight non-commissioned officer. Ripley also learns that the planetoid they landed on was terraformed and colonized by the Company during his absence.
Do science fiction movies become reality?
Some of these are becoming reality in today’s society, which is developing more and more in the direction of artificial intelligence and robotics. Cyborg man is an increasingly concrete reality. There are people all over the world who are having microchips or electronic and computer components installed in their bodies. These interfaces connect to the internet through wireless or Bluetooth systems.
These chips allow some people to overcome their disabilities, such as moving an injured hand, seeing colors that one cannot see with natural eyes. Facebook and multi-billionaire Elon Musk are studying the connection of the human brain with artificial intelligence and the internet.
Elon Musk after years of studies and investments carried out with his company Neuralink, states that by inserting a very small microchip in the brain it is possible to perform actions only by thinking about them. Such as driving a car without putting your hands on the wheel or typing without typing on the keyboard.
The virtual reality scenarios are exactly the same that have been told to us in the past decades by science fiction films, such as Blade Runner. With augmented reality characters, environments and objects that do not exist overlap the real world, as in Strange Days, by Kathryn Bigelow.