Outer space is one of the best settings for a horror movie. Think about it. It's isolating, every elemental factor is against you. You have limited resources. You're pretty much F'd.
So let's take a look at some movies that either take place in space, on another planet or involve ETs coming to Earth to wreak havoc.
#10 -Invaders From Mars
I'd consider this one of those good intro horror movies for kids. It's a fairly simple plot and has some decent and humorous effects. It's also a Tobe Hooper movie so there's a plus right there. It's about a kid who sees a UFO land over a hill and suddenly people he knows start to act differently. As he suspects, they're all under some kind of mind control and the only person he can trust is the school nurse played by Karen Black. This film has some of the most memorable alien visuals I've carried in my mind since I was a kid.
#9 - Cloverfield
Even at the time of its release, found footage movies were nothing new. However, Matt Reeves and JJ Abrams were able to capture the level of panic and chaos that a big alien running around a city Godzilla-style would probably produce. It was also a successful attempt to work in an actual backstory of the characters without spoon feeding it to us. As if a big destructive alien wasn't enough, the true horror was shown with the gestational cycle of the parasite aliens. Poor Lizzy Caplan.
#8 - Starship Troopers
Ok yes -it's more of a sci-fi action movie but let's face it. Even by today's standards, the CGI is damn good. Why put this on a horror list? GORE! The appearance of the arachnid aliens isn't all that terrifying, but holy hell - those things are waking machetes. There's all kinds of slicing and dicing going on. If there's anything to appreciate about this movie, it's that it didn't hold back on much. Well. Maybe some of the acting.
#7 - They Live
Another John Carpenter masterpiece! "Rowdy" Roddy Piper falls into a discovery that reveals we are being subconsciously controlled by an alien race in cahoots with world government. Yeah you probably just heard someone shouting about this on the street corner last Tuesday, but what made this movie memorable were those super generic, magic sunglasses which lifted the veil and revealed the true world around us - and the hideous beings among us.
#6 - Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Cult Classic. Period. The Chiodo brothers got everything right with this one. If there was going to be an alien race that just happened to look like mutated clowns, then everything should follow suit. Cotton candy cocoons. Check. Circus tent spaceship. Check. Clown monster seeds in the form of popcorn. Check. Face-melting pies. Check. John Vernon as the asshole police sergeant -turned ventriloquist dummy. Check. For its theme, KKFOS really is perfect and I'll argue all day long that those are the freakiest looking clowns ever. I first saw this movie when I was 8 and have seen it 50+ times. I'm good for another 50.
#5 - Predator
I was on the fence about including this because it really is more of an action movie with an alien, but there's no denying that the Predator is a talented killing machine. Granted, a lot of that talent is heavily reliant on gadgetry but hey, it worked. However, finding skinned corpses in the middle of the jungle is just the tip of the iceberg of the gory kills in this movie. Severed limbs, exploding heads - yeah I think it qualifies for this list. Plus, we got the forever quotable, "Get to the choppa!" line.
#4 - Aliens
What's better than one alien? A shit load of them with an egg-laying queen. That's what we got with James Cameron's Alien sequel which teamed Ellen Ripley up with a group of Marines to seek out what happened to a colony gone dark. Aside from being one of Bill Paxton's best performances (we miss you!), this movie greatly expanded the xenomorph canon. While it certainly traded some suspense for fire-powered action, it still stands up today as being one hell of a movie all the way around. As if there was any doubt, it also re-certified that Sigourney Weaver is a bad ass.
#3 - Event Horizon
What if a spacecraft actually passed through hell while going through a black hole? Well...you'd get the material for this movie. A rescue crew is sent to investigate the return of the Even Horizon after it went missing. Shortly after arriving, it becomes clear something sinister has happened. The scenes of course that are forever burned in our memories are the footage found from the ships logs. While the scenes are frustratingly short, they are vividly brutal and truly look like hell in a Clive Barker kind of way. There is no happy ending to the movie and the fact that it takes place isolated in space only adds to the eeriness of it.
#2 - The Thing
Unquestionably one of John Carpenters top 3 movies, The Thing is a fantastic adaptation of the novella "Who Goes there?". Every quality element of a horror movie is present - isolation, paranoia, harsh elements and of course, grotesque effects. In an era preceding CGI, The Thing was a prime demonstration of effective, eye-catching practical effects. Several scenes containing these effects are easily recognizable at first sight. This is indeed a true horror classic.
#1 - Alien
Speaking of quality elements of horror movies, Alien reins supreme. Alien was ranked number one because it gave us a double dose of terror - not only with one of the most iconic horror monsters of all time, the xenomorph (which had been described as "the perfect killing machine"), but also the immense suspense this movie effectively drew out. All of us at some point towards the end were thinking, "Forget the damn cat! Get the hell out of there!"
The dark, dingy decks of the USCSS Nostromo were the perfect backdrop for such a lethal predator to hide in - chock full of uplighting, steel grates, wires and vent shafts. The parasitic means of which xenomorphs are born was nightmare fuel just by itself. Most of all, the imagery of HR Giger's unparalleled, bio-mechanical art brought to life on screen made everything about the alien and its (hinted at) origins more other-worldly than anything I've ever seen - still to this day!
What movies do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!