Best Sci Fi Horror Movies (List)

Enjoy this list of the best sci-fi horror films that contain unexpected jump scares, and high-budget special effects that create an atmosphere of pure terror.

Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron starred in the sci-fi thriller The Astronaut’s Wife (1999).

When people think of science fiction, movies like Star Wars and Star Trek are usually the first thing that come to mind. However, not all science fiction movies occur in outer space. A lot of them occur on our own planet. They might involve an alien invasion threatening the Earth, a mad scientist experimenting on other humans, a monster preying on a small town, or a serial killer with extraordinary powers. The possibilities are much broader than most viewers realize.

The success of Resident Evil (2002) led to five sequels concluding with The Final Chapter in 2016.

Although science fiction commonly gets put in a generic, narrow box, it’s actually common for it to overlap with other genres. Most sci-fi movies can also be considered a psychological thriller, a mystery, an action film, or even a comedy. However, most often, science fiction ties in with the horror genre. A sci-fi movie and a horror movie will have a lot of common elements, such as unexpected jump scares, high-budget special effects, and an atmosphere of pure terror. Most of the time, a horror fan will also consider themselves a science fiction fan.

Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss plays a domestic abuse survivor haunted by an unseen presence in The Invisible Man (2020).

Science fiction is much more diverse than many people believe. Even if you aren’t a fan of spaceships or aliens, there are still plenty of movies you can watch. There are plenty of scripts with fun, fresh plots and unexpected twists and turns. Here are some of the best science fiction horror movies currently available to watch on Amazon, Netflix, or their original DVD. You can also watch their trailers on YouTube to get a better feel of their atmosphere and storyline.

Frankenstein (1931)

Author Mary Shelley was only 19 years old when she penned the 1818 novel Frankenstein.

This movie, directed by James Whale, is based on the famous novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. It’s about a scientist who becomes obsessed with creating a living creature out of the body parts of corpses. However, once the creature gains sentience, the townspeople don’t take kindly to him. The universal belief that Frankenstein’s skin is green is because of this movie. The make-up used on the actor who played the monster had a grayish-green tint. This made him take on a pale gray tone in the black and white film. That way, he looked different than the rest of the characters.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

This remake of the 1956 classic is considered one of the greatest remakes in film and is a highly regarded sci-fi horror classic.

This film, directed by Philip Kaufman, is about strange seeds drifting down to earth from space. These seeds create pods which end up replicating the citizens and turning them into emotionless creatures. Basically, they each act as a body snatcher. The script is based off a novel by the same name, written by Jack Finney. Several famous faces are in this film, from Donald Sutherland to Jeff Goldblum. More than one film critic has considered this one of the best remakes in cinematic history.  

Alien (1979)

Oscar-winning actress Sigourney Weaver starred in this blockbuster.

Ridley Scott directed this classic movie about a space vessel receiving a distress call. When the crew is suddenly attacked by a mysterious creature, they must deal with the deadly consequences. Although the Xenomorph is one of the most famous horror movie monsters of all time, it only has four minutes of screen time throughout the entire movie. This film stars Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, and Veronica Cartwright. This movie was so beloved that it spawned several more hits, such as Aliens (1986), Alien Resurrection (1997), and Alien vs. Predator (2004).

The Thing (1982)

This sci-fi horror spawned collectibles such as comic books, board games and video games.

This film is directed by John Carpenter and stars Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley. It’s about a research team stationed in Antarctica who are hunted by a shape-shifting alien that takes the appearance of its victims. Carpenter has actually stated that this is his favorite of all the films he has ever created. However, not everyone shared his love for the film in the beginning. This film was released the same day as Blade Runner (1982) and were both met with unfavorable reviews during their premiers. However, they both went on to become classic movies in the science fiction genre.

The Terminator (1984)

Worldwide box office sales topped $78.3 million.

This famous film, directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, is about a human soldier. He must stop a cyborg killing machine from murdering a woman who is destined to birth the savior of humanity. This was Schwarzenegger’s first horror film – and it is his favorite film he has ever made. However, he wasn’t always set to play the lead character. O.J. Simpson was originally in the running. There was even a mockup movie poster that was created with him as the Terminator.

The Fly (1986)

The special effects department won the 1986 Best Makeup Academy Award for their work.

Jeff Goldblum stars in this body horror film about a scientist who accidentally transforms into a man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes wrong. During his scariest scenes, Goldblum was wearing over five pounds of makeup. It took nearly five hours to apply those prosthetics. However, the time and effort put into the effects was well worth it because Chris Walas, the creator and designer of the fly, won the Academy Award for best makeup.

Event Horizon (1997)

Production design took place within four weeks before shooting began.

This film, directed by Paul Anderson and starring Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, is about a spaceship that disappears into a black hole. A rescue crew must investigate the ship and figure out what else is hiding on board. Hellraiser (1987) was a huge influence on this film. Its creator, Clive Barker, consulted on Event Horizon during pre-production. Despite the care that went into making it, the film only took ten months to complete. This is a short timeframe for such a complex film filled with special effects.

Gattaca (1997)

The name “Gattaca” is made up of the letters G, A, T, and C, which stand for the four nucleobases of DNA.

In this dystopian sci-fi thriller, all children are born via genetic selection and society is obsessed with eugenics and people with the best possible genes. Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was not born through genetic selection and as a result of the predominant culture of genetic discrimination, he worries that he will never achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut. Freeman meets an athlete (Jude Law) who was recently paralyzed in a car accident who allows him to use his genetic material (hair, flakes of skin, urine) to pretend to be him.

The Astronaut’s Wife (1999)

Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron were a couple torn apart by alien hijinks in The Astronaut’s Wife.

While it was a box office bomb and critics didn’t like it, The Astronaut’s Wife is a perfectly compelling 90’s sci-fi thriller. Astronaut Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp) experiences a problem on a space mission that results in a loss of communication between the astronauts and mission control. Armacost and another astronaut eventually make it safely back to work and are reunited with their families. However, neither is the same after the mission and Armacost’s wife (Charlize Theron) is suspicious about what exactly happened while lines of communication were down.

Existenz (1999)

Jude Law stars in this simulated reality sci-fi film.

This David Cronenberg film has it all: technology, virtual reality, adventure and spinal infused technology cords that bring you into a hyper-realistic video game. The movie has several twists and turns and one IMDB reviewer put it, you just need to see this film: “By far the most bizarre and inventive films from David Cronenberg, and a film that is sure to become a cult classic. The story cannot easily be summarized in a small review without spoiling the movie completely, so you’ll have to see it for yourself.” In some ways this movie also a similar cyberpunk aesthetic as The Matrix (1999).

The Ring (2002)

A 1998 Japanese horror film inspired this remake.

This classic film, based on a novel by Koji Suzuki, is about a journalist investigating a videotape. The tape causes viewers to die exactly one week after they watch it. The killer video in the film was used as a commercial long before the premier as a form of clever, relevant advertising. Those ads worked. Until It (2017) was released, this was the highest-grossing horror remake in cinematic history. It went on to sell more than two million copies during the first twenty-four hours it was released on DVD in the US.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Despite being shot on a $6 million budget, this film grossed $102 million worldwide.

This movie, which was Zack Snyder’s directorial debut, is about the living dead. It follows a nurse, a policeman, a married couple, and a salesman in a shopping mall as they deal with deadly, flesh-eating zombies. Because of how many zombies were present in the film, as many as fifty makeup artists were available each day to transform the actors. Production even had a blood cart on set due to the amount of fake blood being used. According to the tomato meter on one of the most famous review sites, Rotten Tomatoes, this film has a 75% rating among critics.

Hellboy (2004)

Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed this fantasy horror.

This film, directed by Guillermo del Toro, is about a demon raised to defend the world against darkness. Both Guillermo and the co-executive producer, Mike Mignola, were adamant about getting Ron Perlman to play the lead character. In order to prepare for the role, Perlman read all of the Hellboy comics. He also worked out three hours per day, five to seven days per week. Meanwhile, on set, his makeup took four hours to apply. When it was finished, the only visible part of his body was his eyelids.

The Descent (2005)

Editor Jon Harris directed the 2009 sequel The Descent Part 2.

This film, which was written and directed by Neil Marshall, is about explorers on a cave expedition who are pursued by predators. They film was not actually recorded in a cave because the filmmakers believed it would be too dangerous. Instead, they built twenty-one separate cave sets in Pinewood Studios. Shauna Macdonald, one of the lead actors, is claustrophobic in real life. She has admitted she found it easy to act panicked underground because she felt some of that panic herself.

The Mist (2007)

Director Frank Darabont previously adapted King’s novels into successful films with
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999)

This film, which was written and directed by Frank Darabont, is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. Although many of the elements remain the same, the ending is much different in the film than in the book. Darabont believed the book ending was too ambiguous, so he came up with a more straightforward ending which many consider controversial. However, King approved of the change and even claimed he wish he would’ve thought of it himself.

I Am Legend (2007)

The 1954 novel I Am Legend inspired this post-apocalyptic thriller.

This film, starring Will Smith, is about a plague that kills most of humanity. The remaining humans are transformed into monsters, leaving the main character stranded alone with his dog. This movie is based off of a book by Richard Matheson, but it was green lit without a script. The computer-generated creatures used throughout the movie took a team of one-hundred people fourteen months to create. The red eyes and veins in the dog were also a visual effect.

Cloverfield (2008)

Music does not play in this film until 1 minute after the end credits start rolling.

This film, directed by Matt Reeves, is about a group of friends who are in New York during a monster attack. It is meant to look like the entire movie was shot using a hand-held camera. Some footage in the film was even shot by the actors. Due to the way the scenes were shot, some movie theaters actually put up warning signs about motion sickness. At least 104 people left due to dizziness.

Prometheus (2012)

Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba star in this sci-fi horror.

This movie, directed by Ridley Scott, was the first Alien film to be formatted in IMAX. It is about a team who discovers they are not alone on a distant moon. Because of this movie, Guillermo del Toro stopped working on his film adaptation of At The Mountains Of Madness, a novella by H.P. Lovecraft. He believed the set pieces were too similar, the big reveal at the end was similar, and some scenes would be almost identical.

World War Z (2013)

A rough script was leaked onto the internet and garnered a cult following before its release.

This film, starring Brad Pitt, is about a man who tries to stop a zombie pandemic before civilization completely falls. At the time, this was Pitt’s highest-grossing film of his career. Despite its success, Marc Forster, the director, prefers the extended, unrated cut of the film. Not only does it have more gore, but it is much more intense than the PG-13 version. Forster claims a lot had to be paired down for the theatrical release, which has a runtime of two hours.

Train to Busan (2016)

Worldwide box office sales grossed $93.1 million for this action horror thriller.

This film, directed by Sang-ho Yeon, is about a zombie virus in South Korea. It follows passengers on a train from Seoul to Busan who are trying to survive the journey. Although the whole plot centers around zombies, the actual word zombie is only mentioned once in the film. The director also created Seoul Station (2016), an animated film released in the same year. It takes place one day prior to the events in Train to Busan.

Get Out (2017)

Jordan Peele became the first Black writer, producer and director to earn $100 million in a debut film.

This famous film, written and directed by Jordan Peele, follows about a black man who is dating a white woman. When he meets her parents for the first time, he notices some strange activity around their property. Soon, he realizes his life is in imminent danger. Peele became the first African American writer, producer, and director to earn more than $100 million in a debut film. After this success, he went on to write and produce more horror movies, like Us (2019). He also worked on The Twilight Zone (2019) series, which belongs to CBS properties.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Characters communicate by ASL throughout the film to avoid making sound.

This film, directed by John Krasinski, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. It follows a family who lives in hiding in order to protect themselves from monsters with sensitive hearing. In addition to directing and acting in the film, Krasinski also played the monster in a motion capture suit for a few scenes. He acts alongside Emily Blunt, who plays his wife. They are also married in real life. The family photos shown in this film are legitimate photos of their relationship and their children.

Bird Box (2018)

American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson plays Sandra Bullock’s wife in this sci-fi horror.

This film, directed by Susanne Bier, is about a world where most people have been driven to suicide by an unseen presence. It follows a mother, played by Sandra Bullock, and her children who are trying to reach safety. The film is based on a book of the same name by Josh Malerman. However, there are quite a few differences in the adaptation. The book takes place in Detroit rather than California, its timeline is more spread out, and its ending is much darker. Bier wanted a slightly more positive ending in the film so the audience would feel hopeful.

Other Sci Fi Horror Movies

  • Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Dr. Frankenstein builds his monster a mate.
  • I Married Aman From Outer Space (1958) Aliens arrive from outer space and possess the bodies of innocent humans.
  • God Told Me To (1976) A series of murders are committed by strangers who believe God ordered them to kill.
  • Demon Seed (1977) A scientist creates a sentient machine that becomes obsessed with human beings.
  • The Fury (1978) A telekinetic boy is kidnapped so his powers can be used for evil.
  • The Brood (1979) A man gets suspicious when his wife visits an unconventional psychiatrist.
  • Altered States (1980) A scientist performs experiments on himself that cause him to regress genetically.
  • Scanners (1981) A man with extraordinary powers hunts down others like him.
  • The Sender (1982) A telepathic man transmits his dreams to everyone around him.
  • Videodrome (1983) A cable TV show programmer gets thrown into a dangerous situation.
  • Re-Animator (1985) A medical student tries to re-animate dead tissue.
  • Lifeforce (1985) Space vampires infect the population.
  • The Hidden (1987) Several regular, law abiding citizens unexpectedly become criminals.
  • Tetsuo (1989) A man gets revenge by turning another man into a hybrid of flesh and metal.
  • Screamers (1995) Soldiers realize robots they’ve built have become sentient.
  • Mimic (1997) Killer cockroaches try to destroy humankind.
  • Blade (1998) A man who is half-mortal and half-vampire sets out to slay other vampires.
  • Pitch Black (2000) A ship is marooned on a dangerous planet filled with bloodthirsty creatures — and a convict named Riddick.
  • Resident Evil (2002) Scientists turn into mutated, flesh-eating monsters after an experiment goes wrong.
  • Underworld (2003) A vampire warrior gets stuck in a conflict between werewolves and vampires.
  • Slither (2006) An alien plague turns humans into mutant monsters.
  • 30 Days of Night (2007) A deadly group of vampires attack an Alaskan town that has been plunged into darkness.
  • Rec (2007) A reporter and her cameramen get locked inside an apartment building with a terrifying monster.
  • Let the Right One In (2008) A young man falls in love with a girl who must drink blood to survive in this strange vampire movie.
  • Pandorum (2009) Two crew members on a spaceship realize the rest of their colleagues have gone missing.
  • Apollo 18 (2011) American astronauts go on a secret expedition.
  • Attack The Block (2011) An alien invasion threatens South London.
  • Under the Skin (2013) A woman seduces and murders men she meets in Scotland.
  • Riddick (2013) Produced by and starring Vin Diesel, this action/science fiction movie has Van Diesel playing a convict wanted throughout the whole entire galaxy.
  • Europa Report (2013) Several astronauts search for life on one of Jupiter’s moons.
  • Interstellar (2014) Brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote this time travel and time bending story of an astronaut in deep space.
  • Ex Machina (2014) A programmer falls for a highly advanced humanoid AI, this is one of the better artificial intelligence movies out there and was made by A24.
  • The Girl With All The Gifts (2016) A group of hybrid children in a dystopian future crave human flesh.
  • Await Further Instructions (2018) A family receives strange instructions through the television on Christmas.
  • Annihilation (2018) A biologist embarks on a dangerous expedition where the rules of nature are broken.
  • The Room (2019) A couple buys a house with a room that grants them an unlimited number of wishes.
  • The Invisible Man (2020) A woman is hunted by someone no one else can see.
  • Underwater (2020) Oceanic researchers search for safety after a mysterious earthquake.

Meet The Author

Holly Riordan

Holly is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in numerous publications and websites. She is also the author of the sci-fi novel Forget Her and Severed, a collection of creepy and gruesome poems.