Inverse Ranking
The 50 Best Sci-Fi Horror Movies, Ranked

The best of the subgenre, here are 50 films, entirely beloved and casually ranked.

Kurt Russell

The line between science fiction and horror is not always clear-cut. It is, after all, all too common for a sci-fi plot to reveal a horror of our own making (“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”) or the frightening limitations of our understanding — like the unpacking of an alien language in Arrival (“We don’t know if they understand the difference between a weapon and a tool!”).

But for science fiction to be considered real horror, it needs to do more than just shed light on the science-based terror that is existence — it needs to give us a nice big dose of Hollywood-sanctioned danger. Whether it’s a jump-scare or five, some oozing body horror, or even a classic chase scene, when a sci-fi movie embraces tried-and-true horror devices, the resulting thrill is one no other subgenre can match.

This is why we compiled 50 of our favorite sci-fi horror movies. Whether you agree or disagree with the order or inclusions on this list, we’re sure that if you’re into a sci-fi movie with an eerie thrill, you’ll find hours of great viewing within.



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What could better define sci-fi horror than finding hell in space? This is exactly why Doom ends up on this list. It brings to life what a Doom adaptation should: creepy space mutants, a first-person shooter sequence, a BFG appearance. The cast (including Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban) knows the movie they’re in and delivers all the jump-scary violence you could ever handle in one film.


Repo! The Genetic Opera

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“A little glass vial? A little glass vial.” Have fun getting that earworm out of your head, Repo! The Genetic Opera fans. Darren Lynn Bousman’s organ-harvesting horror musical is one of the great contemporary horror musicals. Industrial goth vibes and a cast that can sing with the best of ’em bring the production together — body-chopping gore is just the cherry on top.


Deep Blue Sea

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We’re counting this shark movie as “sci-fi horror” because these aren’t just everyday makos — they're genetically engineered predators. Deep Blue Sea is a blast of aquatic horror action that uses practical effects whenever possible to tally an approvable body count. Between Samuel L. Jackson’s midmonologue death to LL Cool J telling the world his hat is like a shark’s fin, this movie rules for so many reasons.



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Remember that time David Cronenberg made an undulating, horny-as-heck video game movie? All the filmmaker’s signatures are on display between bone guns, biological game pods, and lubricated plug-in ports. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law tackle the headiness of using virtual realms to escape reality, villainizing obsessions that have only grown stronger as the iPhone generation evolves.


Sea Fever

Signature Entertainment

What if a mash-up of Cabin Fever and The Thing happened on a trawling vessel? That’s one way to describe Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever, another example of science fiction that’s visually glamorous (shimmery green goo) yet heavily dreadful. It’s a humbling story about our place in a universe that’s still very unknown, and what consequences may come from adventuring beyond factuality.



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Egor Abramenko’s Cold War-era alien flick is a Russian period piece that dances a fine line between creature feature chills and wartime social commentary. The concept is simple: A “hero” cosmonaut returns home with an extraterrestrial being living in his esophagus that comes out to play at night. It’s symbiotic horror inside a 1980s Russian research facility, impressively executed by Abramenko with an exploratory and ponderous spirit.


From Beyond


This won't be the only time you’ll see Stuart Gordon, Barbara Crampton, and Jeffrey Combs on this list, but it will surely be the only time they make a movie about wriggly exposed pineal glands together. From Beyond is an erotically charged H.P. Lovecraft adaptation about disfigured body horror and suckin’ out eyeballs; it’s a kinky and crazy sci-fi horror flick bathed in pink lighting that isn’t afraid to let its fetishistic nature be exposed to all.


Jason X

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There are a few Friday the 13th sequels that lose their way, but Jason X is not one of them. Jason wakes up in 2455 on the spaceship Grendel after being cryogenically frozen (before killing David Cronenberg) and starts hacking through field trippers on their way to Earth I. Director Jim Isaac and writer Todd Farmer knew the movie they were making — a mega cheesy, comically violent interplanetary slasher that ends with the creation of Uber Jason.


Under the Skin


Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin plays like the voyeuristic study of an alien who assumes human form to prey on men. Scarlett Johansson stars as the predator, charting a confounding journey through the reflection of her character’s actions. The cosmic hum of Mica Levi’s haunting score and the endless blackness that men plunge into define the unique experience, while Johansson resembles a kitten experiencing the world for the first time.


Night of the Creeps


Space slugs turn collegegoers into zombie-like hordes in this oh-so-’80s horror comedy featuring Tom Atkins. A fraternity prank goes wrong, accidentally freeing an on-ice alien experiment from 1959 in one of the most ridiculous setups for an extraterrestrial invasion. It only gets stranger from there, as the film proves there are worse things than obnoxious frat bros — undead, mind-controlled frat bros.




Splice is probably best known for its ability to shock — in no small part thanks to Adrien Brody’s character having sex with the human-animal hybrid he and his genetic engineer partner create. Vincenzo Natali proves his knack for telling complex and beguiling science fiction stories, this time with a creature angle. Delphine Chanéac delivers a standout performance as “Dren,” fulfilling the dangers of Natali’s warnings against playing God and paying the consequences.



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Kristen Stewart stars in this astoundingly pressurized aquatic horror flick with influences everywhere from Lovecraft to Leviathan. What else do you need in sci-fi horror? Underwater is the real deal.


The Hidden

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The Hidden is a grab-bag of genres depending on what scene you’re watching, but “sci-fi” and “horror” are undoubtedly evident. They’re just stuffed between outrageous Los Angeles car chases, fish-out-of-water humor as baby-faced Kyle MacLachlan plays a poorly camouflaged alien cop, and other zany tidbits that never stop coming. It’s truly one of the wackier films on this list, but it is easily one of the most fun recommendations to share with friends.


A Quiet Place


You could hear a pin drop at any given screening for A Quiet Place. The way John Krasinski used silence as a weapon against the audience is brilliant. The movie is jarring enough through its high-impact attack sequences, but what flourishes here is the sound design — thanks to sound-seeking aliens who require it.


Psycho Goreman

RLJE Films

Steven Kostanski is known for his do-it-yourself practical effects on par with old Power Rangers costumes or ridiculous Troma Studios gore, and that’s on full display in Psycho Goreman. A girl named Mimi finds an amulet that allows her to control an otherworldly warrior dubbed the Arch-Duke of Nightmares, and then hilarity ensues. It’s part family drama parody, part violent slaughter spree, and endless amounts of SFX-heavy entertainment for horror fans raised on after-midnight cable watches.




Alex Garland’s crowning science-fiction accomplishment is Ex Machina, but since this is a sci-fi horror list, we’re talking about the still quite impressive Annihilation. Natalie Portman leads an outstanding all-female expedition into the Shimmer, where they find anything from faceless mimics to nightmare bears. It’s trippy and terrifying — gorgeous and grotesque — nestling its existential paranoias deep in our minds to recall on rainy days.


The Invisible Man

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Despite its theatrical run getting cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man still found its audience as a fierce retooling of a classic Universal monster. Whannell creates an atmosphere where you’re constantly on edge, waiting for Adrian Griffin to pop out or grab a steak knife and ruin dinner. There are some magnificent scares and kill scenes, as well as a brilliant contemporary spin on what a mad scientist who can turn invisible would do with his morality-testing suit.


The Stuff

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Pour one out for Chocolate Chip Charlie before you bite into The Stuff. Larry Cohen’s satirical horror comedy about the dangers of consumer culture and devouring parasitic extraterrestrial sludge doesn’t keep its commentary subtle. Households slurp down undefinable white goo because it tastes good, and the only ones fighting back are junk food moguls and the ice cream industry because their profits are plummeting. It’s ridiculous, it openly mocks society, and it’s still entirely too relevant.




Andrea Riseborough stars as an assassin who carries out hits by taking over other people’s bodies in Brandon Cronenberg’s tremendous sophomore feature. Like father, like son. Brandon shows the same affinity for augmenting the human body in shots made prevalent for the film’s marketing campaign, but what’s more gut-wrenching is a third act that’s a heartbreaker for the ages.


10 Cloverfield Lane

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. hole up in a bunker as the world burns around them. Who needs a massive beast when enough tension is sealed underground to make you wish you were fighting monsters above?


Killer Klowns From Outer Space

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Not all sci-fi horror movies have to be about quantum mechanics or light-speed travel. The Chiodo brothers imagine an alien invasion from a clown species that shoots popcorn bazookas and slurps the blood from disintegrating humans wrapped in cotton candy cocoons. It’s way funnier than horrifying, scratching that particular late-night horror itch.


The Mist

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Everyone always talks about the bleak ending to Frank Darabont’s hazy Stephen King adaptation, but let’s not forget the whole movie is pretty darn good. There’s plenty of Lovecraftian dread as creatures appear in a thick mist that envelops a supermarket, as the people inside simultaneously fight what’s outside and their worst impulses. It’s both a creature feature and an examination of humankind’s nastiest instincts when faced with apocalyptic fears, all before Thomas Jane triggers the gunshot heard around the world.


The Platform

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The Platform details a kind of game-theory social experiment that gets little real scientific explanation, but will absolutely make you think. Captives are locked in tiered cells and can only eat food on an elevator platform when it stops on their level — a concept that functions like a diabolical social experiment. Maybe there’s cannibalism, or cellmates try to break the rules, but the platform keeps its routine no matter what, and the panna cotta is the message.



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Leigh Whannell’s bone-crunching action flick crosses into horror territory as a dystopian vision of article intelligence’s possible future. The only way Logan Marshall-Green’s grieving quadriplegic mechanic can get revenge for his wife’s death is to let a chip implant take over his body and turn him into a master assassin. It might not be straightforward horror, but it folds in plenty of existential dread and gratuitous gore delivered by a man who may or may not be able to control the voice in his head puppeteering his movements.



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Jordan Peele’s foray into alien science fiction is another banger from the comedian turned contemporary-horror pillar. It plays like “Space Jaws” with nods to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Signs, encapsulating heady fears of the cosmic unknown. Stalwart performances, steady tension, and a wild third act say it all — not to mention one of the scariest depictions of alien digestion ever.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

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Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 original is grander, ickier, and all the better for it. Actors like Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum portray a sustained strain of paranoia once they discover pod people are taking over San Francisco. It’s got a zippy pace, loads of tension, and balances a fine line between looming extinction and in-your-face extraterrestrial horrors.



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James Gunn goes wild for Slither, a B-movie with an A+ cast. Michael Rooker plays a wealthy South Carolina resident who is taken over by an extraterrestrial parasite that slithers out of a meteorite, and it’s all downhill from there. Gunn’s upbringing in the Troma Studios family and goofball sense of dark humor are on full display, bringing prestige to a type of horror film usually made for a couple of bucks and shown on the Syfy network at 2 a.m.


The Faculty

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A cast including Josh Hartnett and Elijah Wood play high schoolers defending their home turf from body-hijacking parasites that start inhabiting teachers. Robert Rodriguez directs the hell out of a Kevin Williamson script that lets its late ’90s freak flag fly, with evil teachers played by the likes of Robert Patrick and Salma Hayek. It’s a whole lotta fun as immature teenagers try to prevent a doomed global invasion, just remember this movie is more than 20 years old when you rewatch some of the digital effects.


The Host

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Before Bong Joon-ho was winning Oscars for Parasite, he made the endearing South Korean monster movie The Host. The film doesn’t hide its political commentary between U.S. military depictions and inept South Korean government bodies, standing by messages interwoven into a dangerous creature feature. Don’t be fooled by the entity’s smaller size compared to other monsters of the week; there’s still plenty of chaos around the Han River.



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If you haven’t caught James Ward Byrkit’s lo-fi mystery yet, do yourself a favor. Coherence is one of the sharpest indie science-fiction chillers of the 2000s, as Miller’s Comet ruins a dinner party when split realities collide. What results is a whip-smart rendition of doppelgangers and glow sticks, brilliantly conceptualized in a way that keeps your head spinning.



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Combining kaiju tramplings and found-footage executions makes for a tremendously immersive survival story in Cloverfield. From a first-person perspective, the film’s enormous monster is displayed with unthinkable scale as “Clover” destroys New York City. Cloverfield is a revolutionary release for the kaiju genre as long as you don’t mind a little “shaky cam” cinematography, bringing us up close and personal to a city destroyer like never before.




M. Night Shyamalan might be best known for his unexpected plot twists, but one of his best films was pretty darn straightforward. Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin fight an alien invasion in their rural Pennsylvania town. Shyamalan successfully blends conspiracy curiosities and high-anxiety scares into an extraterrestrial flick that’ll get your blood pumping — no need to get fancy when executing at this level.



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Vincenzo Natali accomplishes more with a reported $250,000 cash budget and generous service donations than most multi-million-dollar studio projects. Using a single reusable set and colored lighting techniques, Natali traps his cast like rats in a deadly maze as they try to escape a labyrinth of square chambers using advanced math calculations. It’s a little sci-fi horror miracle, boasting the talents of a director who can make so much out of so (comparatively) little.




Is Tremors one of the greatest creature features… ever? Without question. Graboids are nightmarish sandworms, Burt Gummer is a legendary monster hunter, and actors over-accentuate the comedy in this otherwise earth-quaking thriller. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are a dynamic handyman duo, delightful together when dodging Graboid attacks.


28 Days Later

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Yes, 28 Days Later is a zombie movie, but its careful plot and exposition definitely put it in the realm of sci-fi horror. Danny Boyle unleashes an outbreak at an Olympic sprinter’s pace and traverses a frightening Great Britain where the “rage virus” is raging like no other. This one is practically frothing at the mouth; 28 Days Later should come with a ​​Xanax to pop after.



Everett Collection

David Cronenberg is a master of body horror, and in Scanners, he focuses on popping heads like melons filled with dynamite. Superpowered individuals called “scanners” use abilities like telekinesis and psychokinesis in a movie that pits a private military company’s recruited scanners against an underground ring of rebel scanners. It’s the kind of high-concept madness that put Cronenberg on the map, handled with care yet let off the chain.


The Terminator


Is Terminator a horror film? The movie is about a time-traveling cyborg sent to kill a woman named Sarah Connor and is structured like any slasher where a “Big Bad” mutilates victims. Plus all that automaton-under-flesh body horror? Yeah, it certainly belongs here.


Project Wolf Hunting

Well Go USA

Imagine Con Air meets Under Siege meets Resident Evil: Rhat’s Project Wolf Hunting. Criminals on a boat break free from their shackles, kill a bunch of law enforcement in the process, but then confront a zombie-like creature with superhuman killing abilities. It’s a bonkers, stupendously bloody, and butt-whooping South Korean genre hybrid waiting to be discovered.



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James Cameron took Alien into action territory with Aliens, but it’s still a terrifying sequel. Colonial Marines try to blast their way through waves of Xenomorphs, only to meet violent bloodshed and cruel fates. The cast rocks, the thrills are intense, and Aliens would be the clear favorite in any other franchise. Game over? It’s more like a high score!




Long live the new flesh, and all hail King Cronenberg. James Woods may have fallen hard out of grace (rightfully), but Videodrome is still an exquisite and harsh examination of what you can find broadcast onto screens. It’s snuffy, psychosexual, and as fantastically unhinged as the best Cronenberg films are — from either David or Brandon.


Cabin in the Woods


MGM’s collapse threatened the release of Cabin in the Woods, but luckily, Lionsgate stepped in and saved Drew Goddard’s magnificent kitchen-sink monster mash. This compact blurb can’t convey even a fraction of this flick’s greatness, so we’ll just say “I’m sorry I let you get attacked by a werewolf and then ended the world.”


Attack the Block

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Remember John Boyega’s feature debut about troublemaking teens banding together to defend their tower block from a brightly fanged alien invasion? You should; it’s one of the best postmillennium science-fiction films. There’s so much energy and personality packed into this urban defense flick, with an especially creative monster design — gorilla-like creatures covered in abyssal-black fur, with teeth that illuminate like glow-in-the-dark novelty toys.



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John McTiernan is responsible for one of the most quotable action-horror-sci-fi flicks we’ve ever seen. The guns-out Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller is loaded with “hunter versus prey” suspense as an extraterrestrial champion rips calcified trophies out of an all-star cast. It doesn’t get much better in terms of ’80s genre mash-ups.


The Fly

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Directed by David Cronenberg, produced by Mel Brooks, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis? You’d better believe all that talent equates to a seminal ’80s horror classic in The Fly, a disgusting mutation flick that features Academy Award-winning practical effects. Brundlefly is a masterwork of prosthetics and cosmetics, and Goldblum’s performance as a scientist transforming into a human-fly hybrid is some of his best work. Eat your heart out, Baxter Stockman.


The Blob (1988)


Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob is in the same conversation as The Fly about the best practical special effects in ’80s horror canon. The image of Paul being devoured by the gelatinous pink “Blob,” his flesh and muscle being consumed under a thinly stretched translucent film, will forever be seared into memory. This is how you approach a remake that honors an original yet deviates into distinctly new territories.


They Live


John Carpenter’s They Live is the genre response to Reganomics and political commercialization that we deserve. Wrestling superstar Roddy Piper kicks ass and chews no bubblegum, as the film condemns American culture through sunglasses that reveal subliminal mass-marketed messages. It’s clever, anarchistic, and minces no words — Carpenter at his best.



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Stuart Gordon plus H.P. Lovecraft is a match made in heaven, never better than Re-Animator. Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton are ’80s horror royalty for many reasons. It’s got neon-green serums, morgues filled with now-alive corpses, and fantastic practical effects with a winky, laugh-and-scream sensibility about it all — a deranged delight.


Event Horizon


Paul W. S. Anderson’s magnum opus is one of the scariest sci-fi features. Interstellar travelers open a gateway to hell and face the nerve-shredding, visually repulsive consequences. It’s a little bit H.R. Giger, a little bit Hellraiser, and a whole lot of top-notch celestial horrors on display.



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What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? Ridley Scott is responsible for a sci-fi horror masterpiece in Alien, which is iconic for countless and exhaustively reported-on reasons. The list goes on: Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, Xenomorph baddies, the Chestburster sequence. Y’all don’t need me to yap on about golden standards.


The Thing


An Antarctic tale of assimilation and flamethrowers is easily one of John Carpenter’s best films. There are a billion reasons to watch this one, from beardy Kurt Russell to a 1980s practical monster effects showcase. When people say they don’t make ’em like they used to, they’re talking about The Thing — not even its remake-slash-prequel could hold a candle to Carpenter's original.

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