Lots of things are scary: walking dead people, dudes with chainsaws, aerosol cheese (it's just wrong, I tell you). Sometimes, though, the chills can come from outer space, another dimension or a laboratory experiment gone horribly wrong. The greatest fear is a fear of the unknown, and what's more unknown than an alien life form or the endless expanse of space? Let's take a look at seven movies whose scares come from the world of science fiction.
"In space, no one can hear you scream," or so they say. I guess this is the obvious one to start with. Isolation is a key element of horror, and can you get more isolated than a space ship light years from home? The crew of the mining vessel Nostromo are awakened prematurely on their return trip to Earth to investigate a transmission from an alien world. The crew finds an ancient alien spacecraft, the mummified remains of one of its non-human occupants, and several large eggs. The creature inside one of the eggs gains entrance to the Nostromo by latching onto one of the crew members. Once aboard, the little beastie quickly grows into one of the most horrific and memorable monstrosities the screen has ever seen. I saw this one when it first hit theaters, I've seen it many times over the years, and I recently watched it again. Like Dorian Gray, this film just refuses to age. The effects are just as magnificent as ever, the story is tense and fast paced, and the cast is excellent. More importantly, though, this is one scary ride.
The Thing (1982)
A lot of people took me to task for not including this one in my Cinematical Seven: Cool Horror Films of the 80s. With a list of only seven you're not going to please everyone. Regardless, John Carpenter's The Thing is a remarkable film for a number of reasons. Not only is it one of the greatest horror films of all time, it's also one of the rarest of the rare: a remake that surpasses the original. Based on the novella "Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell, Carpenter's version of the story is more faithful to Campbell than 1951's The Thing From Another World. In Carpenter's film, the members of an Antarctic research station find an alien space craft that's been buried in the ice for centuries. A creature with the ability to absorb and mimic other life forms gets thawed out and infiltrates the camp, creating one of the greatest combos of isolation and paranoia in horror history. Kurt Russell is one of the great movie bad asses as MacReady, the helicopter pilot who becomes the de facto group leader. The creature's pre-digital transformations are a thing (pun definitely intended) to behold, to say nothing of seriously gross.