Ten Underrated Sci-Fi Movies

With science fiction in various guises, proving to be as popular as ever at the box office, we take a look at 10 cult classics which are vastly under-rated,.

  1. Trancers (1984)

Zombies, a Phillip Marlowe-inspired time travelling detective and a pre-fame Helen Hunt as the love interest, and you have an instant classic which has a welter of pastiche and in-jokes.

Trancers is low-budget sci-fi at its best with Tim Thomerson in the lead role of Jack Deth, a detective in 2247 who time travels to stop a criminal mastermind from killing off the ancestors of Earth’s ruling council.

An homage to Blade Runner in its look, the script is full of quips and witty prose. Other jokes abound when Hunt’s punk rock chick enters the story. Yes, Leena is a punk rocker…

  1. Paul (2011)

It features an alien so this counts as sci-fi! Simon Pegg with erstwhile partner Nick Frost take the buddy movie and pick up a dope smoking alien Paul, who has escaped from Area 51.

Japes ensue as they seek out the young girl who rescued the Seth Rogan voiced alien when his craft crashed in 1947. It does for ETs what Ted does for cuddly bears.

Chased by Federal Agent Lorenzo Zoil, played by Jason Bateman, the trio drive their way through this loving parody of sci-fi movies in a Winniebago.

  1. Repo Man (1984)

Alex Cox’s cult classic stars Emilio Estevez as the young Otto who learns how to repossess cars from Harry Dean Stanton’s wizened outsider, Bud. It’s a love letter to Los Angeles punk culture at the time.

Along the way, Estevez and Dean Stanton become embroiled with the CIA, aliens and mad scientists, all shot by Cox with impeccable timing and a stellar soundtrack as the pair delve into the seedier side of life through drug use, fast living and car chases.

Star of the show is the Chevvy Malibu and the contents of its’ trunk, which frazzles a cop, kills a punk, and eventually accounts for J Frank Parnell, as well as anyone else who approaches it.

  1. FAQ About Time Travel (2009)

A night out down the pub ends up with Ray, Toby and Paul as time travelers. It’s amazing what a few pints of Stella will do to people.

It turns out to be the fault of Cassie, an American time traveler who take the intrepid trio on a journey they never forget, pretty much without leaving the confines of the public bar.

And in time-honored fashion, the film ends with the trio walking home when Cassie appears in a pastiche of Flash Gordon, telling the friends they have “fourteen hours to save the Earth”.

  1. Abbot and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)

One of sci-fi’s most enduring stories, HG Wells classic book has received just about every treatment Hollywood, television and the gaming industry where Net Ent’s Invisible Man slot appears at Betway Casino.

Abbot and Costello, one of America’s finest comedy double acts, gave the story their own twist when they moved it into a detective story involving boxing, murder and plenty of gags along the way. A great comic outing from the pair when they were the fourth biggest draw in the box office.

It was part of a series of films where the intrepid duo were cast opposite The Mummy, Frankenstein, Boris Karloff, Captain Kidd, and, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

  1. Zardoz (1974)

Sean Connery had shed the sophistication of James Bond for the second time in John Boorman’s fantasy film. Set in 2293, the Earth is divided into the Eternals (immortal) and Brutals (mortal). The former live in the lap of luxury while the latter grow crops for the Eternals.

Connery is a Brutal Exterminator kills at the behest of a flying stone head called Zardoz. He hides in the head on a mission and enters the Eternals world, known as the Vortex.

Thus begins Boorman’s railing against decadence and corruption. There’s no happy ever after for Connery and love interest Charlotte Rampling; just man’s freedom through death.

  1. Omega Man (1971)

While Sean Connery jumped around in his mankini for his sci-fi outing, Charlton Heston eschewed his loin cloth from Planet of the Apes and dove into Omega Man which should appeal to everyone now with its vampire zombies.

Heston is one of the last surviving men on Earth, pursued by the zombies all the while seeking to find a cure for the disease. There’s plenty of beat ‘em up action as the legendary NRA supporter and Hollywood legend shoots, torches and bludgeons the bloodsuckers to death.

  1. Scanners (1981)

David Cronenburg possesses a mind you wouldn’t want to get lost in. Along with Naked Lunch, Scanners is a dark sci-fi cult classic.

Revolving around psychics with the ability to make heads explode, there’s plenty of blood splattered across the screen. Daryl Revok, evil scanner, faces off against Cameron Vale, good scanner, at the behest of Patrick Magoohan’s malevolent Dr Ruth.

The story’s twist makes the Windsor’s seem an entirely normal family.

  1. The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Although one of the Ealing Comedies, this is a cult classic starring Alec Guinness (of course) and Joan Greenwood.

The film, a satire on consumerism and excess, sees Guinness as the scientist who invents the everlasting suit which, management and workers realise, will eventually cause mass unemployment as anything constructed of the fabric need be bought just the once.

An outstanding film which parades Guinness’ comic timing to perfection, sees trickery and subterfuge intertwined with a biting criticism of greed.

  1. Rollerball (1975)

A bleak dystopian future where the masses are controlled by corporations and the only sport in town is Rollerball. A mix of roller hockey and violence – lots of violence – the crowds lap it up.

James Caan, in his first serious role since Sonny Corleone, is Jonathan, the hero whose refusal to retire costs him including a wife who is taken from him without explanation.

A story of the crushing of individualism by corporate greed, and control, Caan rises up as the savior, freeing his fellow man.

The film is set in 2018…

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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