October 29, 2008 3:08 PM   Subscribe

What are some classic, old sci-fi movies?

By classic & old I mean films from the 1950s or 1960s. Particularly, I'm looking for films that feature things like monsters (such as Godzilla), robots, aliens, science experiments gone wrong. One that I can think of is "The Day the Earth Stood Still". I'd prefer them to be good films rather than MST3K fodder.

And if such a place exists (these films might be old enough to be in the public domain), where can I watch these online?
posted by god particle to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
posted by shmegegge at 3:12 PM on October 29, 2008

War of The Worlds
posted by shmegegge at 3:13 PM on October 29, 2008

Forbidden Planet

posted by gmm at 3:21 PM on October 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

1968 was a good year:
Planet of the Apes (not public domain, but worth the 4 bucks to rent)
Night of the Living Dead (can watch in many, many places online)
posted by piedmont at 3:25 PM on October 29, 2008

The Quatermass Xperiment. Quatermass 2. Quatermass And The Pit.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:30 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

20 Million Miles to Earth, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers are all good. Ray Harryhausen did some excellent special effects for them all.

The Quatermass Experiment
, Enemy From Space, and Five Million Miles to Earth are a swell series of films with a conceited scientist as the main character. (Five Million Miles, or Quatermass and the Pit is easily the best of the bunch.)

I Married a Monster from Outer Space
is much better than its title would indicate.

Invaders from Mars is top notch visual entertainment.

The original version of The Fly is pretty compelling.

As is The Incredible Shrinking Man

And there's always The Blob, which also posses one of the finest theme songs ever.

Those are the first ones that would pop into my head anyway...
posted by mr.grum at 3:41 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I loved "It Came from Beneath the Sea," as a native San Franciscan. Watching the monster tear apart the Golden Gate Bridge and climb the Ferry Building was cool!
posted by Carol Anne at 3:45 PM on October 29, 2008

Damn! Beaten to the punch on the Quatermass films.

Well I'll throw in X the Unknown, Day the Earth Caught Fire, and It Came From Outer Space to make up for the losses.
posted by mr.grum at 3:48 PM on October 29, 2008

Island of the Lost Souls 1932 -- not the remake -- is a mad scientist classic based on an anti-vivasectionist H G Wells story.

The Blob 1958 with Steve McQueen is pretty campy but it's got a great theme song, a great monster and Steve McQueen!
(okay, on preview, I'll second Mr Gum.)
posted by Jode at 3:48 PM on October 29, 2008

2nd vote for Forbidden Planet.
posted by O9scar at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2008

I should add Curse of the Demon (aka Night of the Demon) although it often get lumped in with horror films, it is about a scientific investigation of the supernatural, and it is truly excellent.

And since this is MeFi, I must add Matango the Fungus of Terror! Mushrooms have an illustrious heritage here.

Okay, I'll stop now...
posted by mr.grum at 3:59 PM on October 29, 2008

There's always one of the classics of giant monsters:

Tarantula (actually a really good flick).

Forbidden Planet of course, nthing that. Featuring a very young Leslie Neilsen and Richard Anderson (of Six Million Dollar Man fame) no less.
posted by elendil71 at 4:13 PM on October 29, 2008

Kingu Kongu no gyakushĂ» / King Kong Escapes is silly, but I like the synopsis:

"When a mechanical replica of King Kong is unable to dig for the highly radioactive Element X at the North Pole, the evil Doctor Who and his sponsor Madame Piranha (Madame X in the American release) decide to kidnap the real Kong."
posted by martinrebas at 4:15 PM on October 29, 2008

Don't forget Jules Verne:

20000 Leagues Under the Sea

Mysterious Island

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Also: wikipedia
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:16 PM on October 29, 2008

Day of The Triffids
posted by Midnight Rambler at 4:17 PM on October 29, 2008

And a real classic: Them!
posted by martinrebas at 4:17 PM on October 29, 2008

Fantastic Voyage
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:19 PM on October 29, 2008

Anything with Peter Graves saving the earth. Beginning of the End. It Conquered The Earth. Killers from Space.

They're all terrible in just the way these films should be.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:30 PM on October 29, 2008

H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon from 1964 is pretty fantastic.
posted by Nelsormensch at 4:33 PM on October 29, 2008

Colossus: The Forbin Project is an amazing 1970 "computer takes over the world" movie that is unjustly forgotten.
posted by johngoren at 4:35 PM on October 29, 2008

The Angry Red Planet doesn't get enough attention. It's a cool film.
posted by wfrgms at 4:36 PM on October 29, 2008

creature from the black lagoon and the brain that wouldn't die
posted by Redhush at 4:45 PM on October 29, 2008

Great question, a few of my favorites:

The Time Machine (1960)

Journey to the far side of the sun

Fahrenheit 451

posted by octothorpe at 5:31 PM on October 29, 2008

the Last Man On Earth with Vincent Price.
GREAT movie and public domain. Based on the same material as I Am Legend. The first 20 min. alone are worth the download. Available all over the Internet.
posted by raygan at 5:40 PM on October 29, 2008

My favorite Godzilla (and granted I haven't seen them all) is Godzilla Vs. Hedorah. Very trippy 60s effects and soundtrack. Plus an environmental message!

The interesting thing about the Godzilla series is that the newer movies still use rubber suits and old school combat with better supporting special effects. So, you could get a 50s-60s monster movie feel with a newer feel in movies like Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah : Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. I've also heard it called "Godzilla GMK."

Good luck!
posted by Slothrop at 6:21 PM on October 29, 2008

A little bit later (1972) but still a forgotten classic IMHO: Silent Running
posted by Chairboy at 6:53 PM on October 29, 2008

And not forgetting Dark Star ...
posted by Chairboy at 6:55 PM on October 29, 2008

A lot of these covered previously, but here's a list with links for additional info on them - 1950's films - there's a link to Godzilla films and Serials on the home page as well. Also, a bunch of links to lists going as far back as 1910, including horror as well as sci-fi.
posted by nanojath at 7:22 PM on October 29, 2008

An early dystopian classic: Logan's Run
posted by captainsohler at 7:56 PM on October 29, 2008

The Thing from Another World. Also, some of the best sci-fi from the 60s were stories on The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
posted by tula at 8:06 PM on October 29, 2008

2001. No monsters, unless you count HAL, but aliens, albeit nice ones.
posted by lukemeister at 8:33 PM on October 29, 2008

A Boy and His Dog
Soylent Green
posted by angiep at 9:18 PM on October 29, 2008

Going somewhat outside your scope (earlier than the 50's) —

Aelita. Soviet science fiction, silent, 1924.

A review on Amazon of the film by Bruce Sterling:
It's a work of totally visionary science fiction from an utterly vanished revolutionary Soviet Constructivist world. Which is weirder: royal life on Mars, or the fact that this film somehow got produced and distributed?

The sets and costumes are utterly mindboggling. This is my favorite work of science fiction cinema.
posted by Sitegeist at 9:31 PM on October 29, 2008

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
posted by brujita at 10:33 PM on October 29, 2008

2001. No monsters, unless you count HAL, but aliens, albeit nice ones.

Hard to believe that this movie is forty years old, and still holds up well. It should be at the top of your list.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:50 PM on October 29, 2008

I'm flabbergasted, simply flabbergasted, that nobody's given a shout-out to This Island Earth (1955). A tad hokey, but the special effects were top-notch, and hold up well to this day. The three-strip technicolor print truly pops off the screen.

All the necessary items are on the menu: flying saucers, a ray-gun-slash-telescreen, eerie planetary landscapes, spooky space monster. "Island" is a must-have addition to your Netflix queue.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:01 AM on October 30, 2008

Cat lovers note: "This Island Earth" features a (brief) appearance by Orangey, the Hollywood feline whose work can be enjoyed in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and other movies.

Your useless factoid of the day.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:07 AM on October 30, 2008

This Island Earth also stars Russell Johnson, The Professor from Gilligan's Island; always fun to see people from iconic television shows in other roles...
posted by mr.grum at 2:56 AM on October 30, 2008

You might want to take a look at Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive. You can download these movies in high quality or watch them online in low quality.
posted by leigh1 at 5:34 AM on October 30, 2008

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