Your Favorite Classic SciFi & Why

THE OUTER LIMITS (Season One, 1963) The Architects of Fear

THE OUTER LIMITS (Season One, 1963) The Architects of Fear

If you are into Pre-1967 Sci-Fi, can you help me? I am collecting resources for an Early Science Fiction Production Design class.

This is mainly about movies as inspiration. What old Sci-Fi (or Sci-Fi-ish) movies do you consider worthy to inspire?

Below is my first-draft list. If it’s missing a must-see, tell me, and feel free to add comments, recommendations and warnings…

  • Metropolis (1927) (148 minutes)
  • Dracula (1931) (85 minutes) Not science fiction, but distinguishes Fantasy from SciFi.
  • Frankenstein (1931) (71 minutes)
  • The Invisible Man (1933) (71 minutes)
  • Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (75 minutes)
  • Young Frankenstein (1974) (105 minutes)
  • The Thing from Another World (1951)  87 minutes
  • The Man in the White Suit (1951) (85 minutes)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 91 minutes
  • Invaders from Mars (1953) 77 minutes
  • THEM! (1954) (94 minutes)
  • Godzilla 1954 (96 minutes) and Godzilla 2014 (123 minutes)
  • Forbidden Planet (1956) (98 minutes)
  • The Blob (1958) (86 minutes)
  • The Crawling Eye (1958) (84 minutes)
  • Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) (98 minutes)
  • ZOTZ! (1962) (87 minutes)
  • La Jetée (1962) (28 minutes)
  • Last Man on Earth (1964) (86 minutes)
  • Alphaville (1965) (99 minutes)
  • Seconds (1966) (100 minutes)

THE TIME MACHINE (1960) sucked, but the few minutes of the special effects were great. Examples with caveats like that are welcomed. This is a production design class, so cool looking stuff is priority, and I appreciate it if you warn us away from full viewings that don’t pay off. So little time, and so many movies!

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22 Responses to Your Favorite Classic SciFi & Why

  1. Vera says:

    Village of the Damned (1960) 77 min. That one always gave me the creeps.

  2. Philip Hamrick says:

    One of my all-time favorite scifi movies is ‘Robinson Crusoe on Mars’. I love it because, using the knowledge we had at that time of Mars, the producers and director tried their best to make it as believable as possible. It had a simple plot – survival, and a small cast to make that plot work. I also think MGP-1 is a believable design (again for that time) for a spacecraft to be used to reach Mars.

    • Marshall says:

      Wow – just looked it up and watched the Criterion restoration trailer. I’m in! I remember the name of it being touted when it came out (I was six) but never saw a clip from it. Seems like a jumping-off point for Kubrick to begin 2001. Thanks Philip!

  3. Irene says:

    Forgot to mention – I watch Svengoolie. On MeTV. He does a lot of the older movies. http://svengoolie.com/
    Also, not a movie – but what about the org Twilight Zone series?
    Oh, and I found this (when looking for dates) http://www.windows2universe.org/art_and_music/films.html
    It’s a list of a LOT of scifi movies. Not what you want exactly, but it gives the dates and may give you some ideas…

    • Marshall says:

      Thanks for the links.
      The original Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes are important parts of this class for other reasons (themes, and OL’s “monster of the week” approach) but right now I’m focused on movies – and there is only so much time. Incidentally, if you have not see the Twilight Zones on BluRay (they scanned them from the original 35mm film) they are stunning. I’ve spent a good portion of the past four years in them – the extras make it like a graduate course on the history of the show. It could hardly be a better package…

  4. Irene says:

    Not sure these are entirely what you want, but off the top of my head…

    The Walking Dead (1936)
    The Angry Red Planet (1960)
    It Came from Outer Space (1953)
    Personally, I added these two as well… Not really a lot of special effects. But at the same time, it shows how something simple, with the right atmosphere can be made truly terrifying. The Pit and the pendulum scared the crap outta me when I was younger.
    Tales of Terror (1962)
    The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

  5. Dan Colonna says:

    How did I forget “Journey to the Center of the Earth”?

  6. Cara Nilsen says:

    The 1936 Flash Gordon serial starring Buster Crabbe. It entranced me as a kid when I came across it on some old movie channel & recorded it. I still love it. I feel like it captures some of the magic of the old Alex Raymond comic strip (which I used to check out from the library cuz they had a bound collection of them)

  7. Cliff Cramp says:

    1958 – The Fly
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
    Day of The Triffids 1962 – I know, but I like it.

    I would say Planet of the Apes 1968, 2001 – 1968, Omega Man 1971, Soylent Green 1973, West World 1973 – But they all miss the cutoff. These were when I was beginning my movie attending experience at the drive-in with my parents. They thought my brother and I would fall asleep in the back of the station wagon – we didn’t.

  8. Dan Colonna says:

    Many of my favorites are already listed, but I would add:
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    Trip to the Moon (maybe first ever)
    The Fly
    Last Man On Earth
    Fantastic Voyage
    and Dr. Strangelove (sort of Sci-Fi) and speaking of Kubrick I know 2001 is a year late, but I thought I would mention it since it is one of the best ever.

    • Marshall says:

      Thanks Dan – I use Invasion and Strangelove in other classes, but they belong, and of course 1967 is the cutoff date precisely because of 2001 – I feel that it’s one of the big bridges between classic and modern cinema, and for sci-fi – the big leap.

  9. Mike says:

    Invasion of the Bodysnatchers – film noir and existential dread

  10. Steve Harris says:

    First Men on the Moon and 20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea seem like important omissions…

  11. Vitalii says:

    Hello Marshal,

    You wrote an intriguing post and I hope your future class will be very interesting.

    Please let me suggest some films to your list. I was surprised that the list of films is lacking such pieces like:

    – A Trip to the Moon (1902);
    – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920);
    – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920);
    – The Phantom of the Opera (1925), while not a science fiction but horror film this one can still be considered by you.

    While recalling the list of films above I also found some that I have not seen before but assume they can be quite interesting:

    – The Mechanical Butcher (La Charcuterie mécanique, 1895), they consider this film as the first science fiction film;
    – Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924)
    – The Death Ray (1925)

    I have a feeling that there are some more films that I saw before but cannot remember them now. So I will post if I recall them.

    Kind regards,
    Vitalii Khalak

  12. The Quaternass Xperiment , classic British sci-fi set in everyday world with the extraordinary happening .
    Good Atmosphere , great script and acting .

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