Need some nerdage.
January 27, 2008 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Help me find some great or good scifi watchables.

I couldn't find a thread anywhere on this through searches, so sorry if it's been asked.

I'm looking for some good scifi films or tv shows which I could find on DVD. I'd also be interested in films which straddle the horror/scifi line.

Some stuff i've seen and enjoyed in the past:
The Thing (kurt russell version)
2001 & 2010
Alien & Aliens
12 Monkeys
Star Wars & Star Trek films
Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
The Host
Cowboy Bebop
Neon Genesis Evangelion
The Abyss
Hitchhikers Guide
The Fountain

...lots of stuff i'm forgetting i'm sure. Older or foreign films are especially I haven't seen much of either.
posted by pilibeen to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Event Horizon
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:13 PM on January 27, 2008

Sunshine (haven't seen it, so I can't vouch for its quality)
The X-Files (TV and film)
posted by puritycontrol at 7:17 PM on January 27, 2008

altered states
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:17 PM on January 27, 2008

I hated Event Horizon. Eww.

The Andromeda Strain
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Bladerunner (not really a favorite, but if you haven't seen it, you probably should)
Terminator (& Terminator 2)
posted by cashman at 7:19 PM on January 27, 2008

Aeon Flux: kick ass sets, filmed in superb modern architecture of Berlin

Screamers: Canadian sci-fi!
posted by tarantula at 7:21 PM on January 27, 2008

Omega Man
Silent Running
The Black Hole
Soylent Green
Logan's Run
posted by zerobyproxy at 7:23 PM on January 27, 2008

NightWatch & the sequel DayWatch

...and you've got to check out the new Battlestar Galactica
posted by junkbox at 7:24 PM on January 27, 2008

The Lathe of Heaven
posted by plinth at 7:28 PM on January 27, 2008

For fun (these are kind of bad to me):

Day of the Triffids
The Quiet Earth
Silent Running
The Cell

If you're going to grab a bunch of these, use worldcat to find them at your local library(ies) for free. If you decide to buy some, you can grab many of them dirt cheap from ddd, where dirt cheap is like 5.99 or so.

There was a post about a supposedly great Russian sci-fi film - Kin-Dza-Dza a few days ago.

Another good movie, which fits the horror/sci-fi straddle: Coma.
posted by cashman at 7:28 PM on January 27, 2008

Bladerunner--any version of it! I think it is one of the best scifi movies ever made.
A.I. was also very good.

And, I know most people considered this one a resounding turkey, but Zardoz is one of my favorites--great atmosphere, and very interesting questions of mortality explored (although the special effects can get pretty cheezy).

As for TV shows, check out "The Prisoner" series (British TV program from the 60s). That series explores sociology, psychology, theology, you name it--again, some special effects are cheap looking, and writing was kind of uneven--but all in all, a facinating series.

You mention Solaris--there are actually 2 versions--first one is Russian (made sometime in the 60s or 70s--it is brilliant). Second one, American version is also very good.

For Anime--Spirited Away is awesome--bet anime I've seen.

soge"A Boy and His Dog"--this one is pretty rough, low budget, and according to many, horribly misogynistic.--but I still liked it a lot--running diolog between the Don Johnson character Vic, and his telepathic dog really makes this movie.

The best Star Trek movie I've seen is "The Voyage Home"--good blend of humor along with the drama--and just loved those whales!
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:34 PM on January 27, 2008

Ooops--not sure what the "soge" was about right before "A Boy and his Dog"--please ignore.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:36 PM on January 27, 2008

A Scanner Darkly
The Fifth Element
The 13th Floor

And, generally, everything on this list of "mindfuck" movies.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:42 PM on January 27, 2008

"A Boy and His Dog"--this one is pretty rough, low budget, and according to many, horribly misogynistic

An overlooked treasure. I've heard the charges of misogynism several times, but clearly from people who fail to realize that it's a satire.
posted by Neiltupper at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2008

also, The Butterfly Effect.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:45 PM on January 27, 2008

How about Minority Report?
posted by RichardP at 7:47 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension
Time Bandits
The Last Starfighter
War Games
Dune (not the David Lynch travesty, the surprisingly faithful Sci-Fi Channel miniseries with William Hurt)
Big Trouble In Little China
A Clockwork Orange
A Scanner Darkly
Children of Men (even though I HATED it, everyone else seems to love it)
The Fifth Element
Dark City

nthing Blade Runner - this is simply a must. nthing also A.I., Logan's Run, and the first Terminator.

Battlestar Galactica (the new series is excellent, can't speak for the original)
Futurama (by far the most intelligent cartoon series ever.)
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:48 PM on January 27, 2008

Because it's awesome: They Live
Because it's actually good: The Fifth Element
posted by General Malaise at 7:48 PM on January 27, 2008

Muppets from Space (if you like spoofs and/or Muppets)
Enemy Mine
Underworld (mostly horror but with some scifi elements)
Resident Evil (I like the first one)
The Fifth Element (meh to me but a lot of people liked it)
I, Robot
Spirited Away

Currently on my own "to watch" list:
Blade Runner
The Lathe of Heaven

Have you tried the Buffy and Angel DVDs? I don't care for Angel much myself, but they both have a scifi/horror subversion blend.
posted by Tehanu at 7:49 PM on January 27, 2008

Dark City? 28 Days Later?

Akumulátor 1 is a foreign (Czech) maybe-fits-your-particular-definition-of-scifi favourite of mine.

Some of the older BBC adaptations e.g. Day of the Triffids? The Australian kids tv scifi series Thunderstone also stands adult scrutiny surprisingly well.

(And, of course, Dark Star ;-)
posted by Pinback at 7:49 PM on January 27, 2008

And good lord--how could I forget:

Dark City
The Fifth Element (this one pays homage/rips off just about every scifi blockbuster out there!)
Metropolis (anime)
The Place Promised in Our Younger Years (anime--absolutely beautiful)
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:57 PM on January 27, 2008

And this may be the wrong kind of nerdage, but I found The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be both extremely strange and awesome. There's a scene where Robin Williams is rambling around as the headless King of the Moon. If you are brave of heart and curious of mind, seek it out.
posted by Tehanu at 7:58 PM on January 27, 2008

Vincent Price 1964: Last Man On Earth......... while it lasts
posted by hortense at 8:13 PM on January 27, 2008

Final Fantasy--The Spirits Within--(animated)
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 8:20 PM on January 27, 2008

For anime, you really can't get any better than Fullmetal Alchemist. 51 episodes, so it's pretty manageable. Bigger than Eva (6 eps?), but hey, 20 minute eps. It's not very Sci-Fi... Well. It is and it isn't. I actually don't know what to classify it as. It's a bit dystopian, a bit mind-fuck, but very, very well written with a very interesting plot. Basic premise involves alchemy.
posted by Phire at 8:27 PM on January 27, 2008

Pitch Black
The Time Machine (Guy Pearce)
posted by cashman at 8:38 PM on January 27, 2008

Primer: one of the more interesting and mentally challenging science-fiction films of recent years.
The Lost Room: a short, very well thought-out series about the fallout of an inexplicable event.
Ultraviolet: not the movie, but the short British series about vampires; not occultish at all, but strong, intelligent series that approaches the subject rationally (as far as is possible with vampires, anyway).
Quatermass and the Pit (Five Million Years to Earth): to me, the most perfectly-plotted weird film of suspense and alien invasion.
The Thing (Howard Hawks version): short, sharp, well-written and suspensful.

The one film I'd like to recommend that I can't find on DVD is The Incredible Shrinking Man, an intelligent, spiritual story that happily includes a fight with a giant spider.
posted by SPrintF at 8:43 PM on January 27, 2008

Thanks for the suggestions so far...I'm loading up my netflix queue. With BSG, should I just start w/ the miniseries?
posted by pilibeen at 8:43 PM on January 27, 2008

Oh, sorry, forgot about anime. I'll recommend:

Serial Experiments Lain
Now and Then, Here and There.
Ghost in the Shell
posted by SPrintF at 8:49 PM on January 27, 2008

Babylon 5 and Andromeda are both good (both also have their weak points, but when they're good, they're excellent).
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:56 PM on January 27, 2008

I'd most recommend The Iron Giant, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Minority Report

Others title include Dark City, The Thing, Forbidden Planet, original War of the Worlds, original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (only seen that one).

Maybe Plan 9 From Outer Space, just so you can say you saw it. And while you're at it, Tim Burton's "Ed Wood."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:59 PM on January 27, 2008

The mid-'90s series Earth 2 got moderately campy from time to time, but it also had some very good story arcs. Warning: it ended its first and only season with a cliffhanger that was never resolved.

Also, speaking of mid-'90s stuff, Sliders was pretty damn good for the first two seasons. After that it got pretty ridiculous, though.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:01 PM on January 27, 2008

The new Battlestar Galactica is one of the best things I've ever seen on TV.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:05 PM on January 27, 2008

No one has recommended Cronenberg??

The Fly
Existenz (not GREAT, but it is watchable sci-fi horror)
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 9:06 PM on January 27, 2008

I don't know how much play this got on your side of the border, so here's some more Canadian content: Existenz by David Cronenberg. It's about a virtual reality game that people literally plug themselves into.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:12 PM on January 27, 2008

Oh for heavens sake, when will I learn to preview?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:13 PM on January 27, 2008

Yes, the new BSG starts with the miniseries -- you'll be pretty lost if you start season one without watching it first.
posted by Alterscape at 9:22 PM on January 27, 2008

The Fifth Element
Blade Runner (the final cut)
I, Robot
Dark City
Code 46 (It has Tim Robbins in it!)

If you want something campy, you can always watch Flash Gorden ("Flash! A-a-a-a! He's here to save the universe!)


A few warnings:

AI- Some people like it, some hate it. I wish I had fallen asleep 2/3rds of the way through. Then I would probably have liked it.

Babylon 5- Do not judge this series on the first or fifth season. The seasons 2/3/4 are where the meat are in the acting and storyline.

Andromeda- Meh. I tried to like this, but it seemed to be the SciFi equivalent of a formula checklist.

Dune- the 2 different versions have pros and cons, though I think they both have merit. I would suggest both of them just to find out which one you are going to like better.
posted by slavlin at 9:35 PM on January 27, 2008

posted by EatenByAGrue at 10:05 PM on January 27, 2008

Seconding Serial Experiments Lain and A Boy and his Dog

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Gantz (pretty disturbing)
Martian Successor Nadesico (funny, meta)
posted by benign at 10:09 PM on January 27, 2008

So long as we're mentioning mid-90s science fiction series: Space: Above and Beyond.

Also, someone above noted the Aeon Flux movie with Charlize Theron, but what you should probably hunt down instead (or at least first) is the original Aeon Flux series of animated shorts, available in a convenient box set (whose cover you can see on the IMDB page). Where Aeon Flux the movie is a fairly straightforward futuristic rebel superhero thriller, Aeon Flux the series is pretty mindbending and bizarre.
posted by chrominance at 10:15 PM on January 27, 2008

Just about everything I would suggest has already been mentioned, but I'll add LEXX, just for hell of it.
posted by goshling at 10:59 PM on January 27, 2008

If I had time, I could brainstorm you a load, but instead I'll give you the first movie that popped into my head: Primer

Falls into the "mindfuck" realm, a la Memento, and absolutely demands repeat viewings to understand it all...if that's even possible. Great movie.
posted by zardoz at 11:12 PM on January 27, 2008

I loved the 1966 version of Fahrenheit 451

I see that there is a new version about to be released with Tom Hanks.
posted by mattoxic at 2:52 AM on January 28, 2008

Can I aslo reccomend anothe bradbury screen adaptation, The Illustrated Man A fantastic film.
posted by mattoxic at 3:09 AM on January 28, 2008

I freaking love Gainax's incredible, beautiful, tender, smart, often deranged and dark sci-fi animés:

Wings of Honneamise
.. and you've already seen Evangelion.

Not by Gainax:
Ergo Proxy
Wolf's Rain
Eureka 7

Wild Zero

Uh... I had a bunch of non-Japanese recommendations too, but they've all been mentioned already! This list should have some though.
posted by Drexen at 3:13 AM on January 28, 2008

[Oops - that link should be Wolf's Rain]
posted by Drexen at 3:15 AM on January 28, 2008

[Argh! Okay, MeFi doesn't like apostrophes in links - WR doesn't really seem to have an official website but you can search for it on Wikipedia.]
posted by Drexen at 3:18 AM on January 28, 2008

Paprika is an excellent sci-fiish animated film.
posted by howiamdifferent at 5:32 AM on January 28, 2008

Great sf humor: the British sf series Red Dwarf, particularly the first five series. (Serieses?)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:53 AM on January 28, 2008

Galaxy Quest is pretty good.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:27 AM on January 28, 2008

LA PLANÉTE SAUVAGE - Animated French science fiction film that was co-written and designed by Roland Topor and also features an excellent score by Alain Goraguer.
posted by cinemafiend at 9:29 AM on January 28, 2008

Brother From Another Planet.
posted by Hobgoblin at 10:35 AM on January 28, 2008

Not sure if anyone liked it but me, but I found Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow entertaining.

Mind you, I am also potentially the world's only Hudson Hawk fan, so my recommendations should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2008

posted by P.o.B. at 11:40 AM on January 28, 2008

You might like Blue Gender.

nthing Strange Days and Casshern as well.
posted by saturnine at 2:07 PM on January 28, 2008

Just FYI, Red Dwarf is availible on the Netflix "Watch Instantly" too,
posted by slavlin at 2:17 PM on January 28, 2008

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Donnie Darko
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the BBC series)
The Man in the White Suit
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:30 AM on January 29, 2008

Heavy Metal (toon)
Akira (anime)
Rock and Rule (toon)
Forbidden Planet
Natural City
Metropolis (the anime, the original, the version with music by Queen)
Planetes (anime) -- actually there's tons and tons of decent anime sci-fi, list could go on forever...

Love this thread, it's like a list of my favorites.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:50 AM on January 29, 2008

I gotta say, if you have any fealty at all to the original Aeon Flux cartoons, the film's a travesty. Its creator feels the same way.
posted by WCityMike at 10:48 AM on January 29, 2008

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