Deep Space Horror
I find outer space scary in the same way as I find the deep ocean frightening. It’s vast and claustrophobic at the same time. You are utterly reliant on technology to keep you alive, breathing, and to stop your brains from exploding out through your eye sockets. That’s what happens right??? If something bad happens, you’re millions of miles from help, trapped inside a tin can in a place where human beings are not designed to survive. As they say…
“In space, no one can hear you scream.”
The only rules are, that I’m trying to list horror films where the action takes place almost entirely on board spaceships. Horror films that take place on alien planets are slightly different, but also cool.
In no particular order – although I put Alien at the top because she’s the queen of deep space horror, here’s my list of the best horror films set in outer space (and a few clunkers!)
Top 10 Horror Films Set in Space
Ridley Scott’s science fiction, horror masterpiece (yeah, I said it!) Alien follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo, who encounter an aggressive, parasitic alien creature that gets loose on their ship, with horrifying consequences.
Event Horizon (1997)
A crew of astronauts sent on a rescue mission after missing spaceship the Event Horizon reappears, find (a lot) more than they bargained for when they learn that the Event Horizon was responsible for an experimental engine that opened a rift in the space-time continuum.
Awakening from stasis with partial amnesia, two members of the flight crew of The Elysium discover a seemingly abandoned ship. As they struggle to make sense of the situation, they find themselves immersed in a bizarre and terrifying reality.
A six-member crew of the International Space Station is ecstatic to uncover the first evidence of life on Mars… and then it all goes horribly wrong.
Europa Report (2013)
A found footage film, but don’t let that put you off! The Europa Report tells the story of the first crewed mission to Europa, one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter.
Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, as a medical engineer and a seasoned astronaut who find themselves floating through space, stranded after debris destroys their space shuttle. I don’t care if this is not strictly a horror film. Even re-watching the trailer makes me sweat a little!
Directed by Danny Boyle and adapted from a screenplay written by Alex Garland Sunshine follows a group of astronauts on a mission to reignite the dying Sun.
It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)
This 1950s B-Movie is one of two films – the other being Planet Of The Vampires (1965) that is credited with being an inspiration for Alien’s monster-on-a-spaceship premise.
Planet Of The Vampires (1965)
Planet of the Vampires (although Zombies would be more accurate I guess, but who cares!) follows the crew of spaceship Argos who are forced to land on a forbidding, unexplored alien planet known as Aura. Included because this is credited with being an influence for Alien (so its allowed to break the no planets rule)
Now let’s “Jump the Shark” with a few franchises that somehow ended up in deep space
Jason X (2001)
I mean it’s redonkulous, but kind of fun I guess. If this is your cup of tea there’s also Critters 4 (1992), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997) and Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
When I was writing this list I expected to find more entries. I’m quite surprised that there were actually so few. There were an awful lot of Alien rip-offs, and low budget clunkers (hours of my life I won’t get back – Galaxy of Terror, I’m talking to you.) And many that did make the list ended up being decent enough movies, but box office failures.
It’s a shame really as Deep space to my mind has such potential to be frightening. What do you think? Have I missed any Gems?