If you think about it, mashing up the sci-fi and horror movie genres is pretty much a perfect match. Both genres are designed to show movie fans characters, settings, and themes that are outside their normal lives. The best films in this category are among the best movies in either science fiction or horror films. But what are the best sci-fi horror movies to stream? Here are our top 10 picks, in no particular order, with a few honorable mentions to check out as well.
Best sci-fi horror movies
The Thing (1982)
The original 1951 movie version of The Thing was basically “Frankenstein’s monster is an alien.” The 1982 version, directed by John Carpenter, was much more faithful to the original source, the 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. An American Antarctica expedition has to deal with an alien that has been freed from the ice after crash landing in the region thousands of years ago. This is no ordinary E.T.; it can shapeshift into any form it touches, and unfortunately, that includes some of the members of the expedition. The paranoia that sets in among the team is almost as scary as the alien effects that were created by Rob Bottin and Stan Winston. Kurt Russell leads an excellent cast. The movie, which was a box office and critical bomb when it was first released, has now become a classic. A 2011 prequel, also called The Thing, wasn’t nearly as good.
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The premise of this 1979 classic sci-fi horror movie is simple: an alien starts to kill everyone on a spaceship. However, this “haunted house in space” premise is amplified thanks to director Ridley Scott’s overall gothic look to the movie and the design of the alien itself by famed biomechanical artist H.R. Giger. In fact, there are three different forms for this Alien that he created, and all are frightening. The movie also has a near-perfect cast, led by Sigourney Weaver, who would go on to star in several of this movie’s many sequels and spinoffs. Only one of them, 1986’s Aliens from director James Cameron, came up to the level of the 1979 original, but that film was more of an action movie than a horror film.
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This 1997 film, like The Thing, was not a commercial or critical success when it was first released, but it has achieved cult movie status since then. It’s easy to see why as the visual effects and art direction give this movie a look unlike any other film. A rescue ship from Earth heads to Neptune to discover a long-lost spaceship, the Event Horizon, that was designed to go faster than light. However, the rescue crew soon discovers that this lost ship also went through another dimension that brought back something very dark and evil. It’s a true “haunted house in space” movie, even more so than Alien.
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The original 1987 movie that started the Predator franchise begins as an action movie. Arnold Swaggenager’s character Dutch and his US special forces team get tricked into blowing up a rebel camp somewhere in South America. However, the movie quickly moved into the slasher film category, as an alien hunter picks off Arnold’s team one by one in the jungle. This is one of the few movies made by Arnold where you think his character might not win in the end. There’s been a bunch of sequels and spinoffs to this movie, including 2022’s Prey (currently available on Hulu) which puts this alien hunter back in time to the 19th century.
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This 2000 movie takes place in the far future, where a spaceship carrying a number of passengers gets hit by a meteor storm and crash lands on a planet that is almost always in sunlight. Unfortunately for the surviving passengers, the planet is going into one of its rare periods of total darkness. When that happens, swarms of flying alien creatures come out of their caves and kill anything that moves. The design of these creatures are truly scary, and the movie itself has a few interesting twists in its plot. Vin Diesel plays the “hero” of this movie, the dangerous convict Riddick that can go toe to toe with these aliens. Two more movies were made after Pitch Black with this character and actor, but only the third, simply called Riddick, is worth your attention.
The Fly (1986)
Director David Cronenberg remade this classic sci-fi horror movie, starring Jeff Goldblum as a scientist working on a way to teleport people instantly. Of course, when he tests this tech on himself, he didn’t see a small fly that was caught inside the teleportation container. This mixes his DNA with the fly, and, well, things start changing with Goldblum’s character. The creature effects are both impressive and scary, but Goldblum’s performance manages to get through all that makeup. You can bypass the sequel, as it’s mainly a quickly-made money grab.
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H.R Giger is back, as he designed another biomechanical alien for this 1995 movie. Scientists on Earth receive an alien transmission on how to splice human DNA with alien DNA. In a case of the “idiot plot” the scientists do just that, and create a being that eventually turns into an adult, played by Natasha Henstridge in her film debut. Of course, this human form is just a ruse; the H.R. Giger-designed alien is this being’s true form, and now it has to be stopped before it starts multiplying. The movie had several sequels but none are as good as the original.
Attack The Block
Vicious aliens show up on the strees of London in this 2011 movie written and directed by Joe Cornish. This alien invasion movie has some truly terrifying creatures that are almost all teeth with no eyes. Only a teenage street gang can save the world from these invaders. The movie has some early performances from two people that got much more famous in future roles: John Boyega (Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy) and Jodie Whittaker (the 13th Doctor Who). Oh, and it’s also the shortest movie on this list at 88 minutes.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
There have been four movies based on the novel Body Snatchers, but the second one, made in 1978, is the best. Alien spores have traveled across the stars and landed in San Francisco, where they start going into the ecosystem. Soon, they evolve into plant pods and start duplicating humans when they go to sleep. The idea of people being turned into emotionless versions of themselves is pretty scary, and the movie goes into full paranoia mode. The cast is also excellent, including Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and (once again), Jeff Goldblum.
James Gunn wrote and directed this 2006 movie a few years before he started making the Guardians of the Galaxy films for Marvel. This is a B-movie premise if there ever was one. An alien parasite lands in a small town and infects a local man. That’s just the start for this film that has some of the wildest human-to-alien transformations ever seen in a movie. It also has some solid actors like Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Rooker.
Best sci-fi horror movies – Honorable mentions
Here are a few more films that didn’t quite make it into our top 10 list:
- Lifeforce – Space vampires invade Earth, and also get in some sexy time, in this guilty pleasure movie. (Rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – The first movie adaptation is still pretty effective at creating paranoia and horror. (free on The Roku Channel)
- A Quiet Place – Aliens have decimated Earth thanks to their speed and their audio detection. This is a movie where the lack of sound is a positive. (Paramount Plus)
- The Faculty – This is a teenager’s worst nightmare: Their high school teachers have been replaced by shape shifting aliens. (HBO Max)
- Killer Klownes from Outer Space – Yep, it’s space clowns. However, this sci-fi horror comedy does have some scary moments (Free on Pluto TV)