31 Days of Ghosts: It Came From Space
When we often think of ghosts or haunted places and even horror movies, a gothic castle or some old Victorian mansion or even a location in Eastern Europe is the first thing that springs to mind. Sometime ghost stories, at least for the Western World, are told about African locations or Asian locations (which, I’ll try to look into for future).
But rarely do we have a truly horrifying story that takes place in space. Science Fiction is often thought in the same sentence with Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, or Buck Rogers. Even Flash Gordon comes to mind, which came about during an intense interest in that genre of pulp fiction. But there have been sci fi stories that have taken place in space.
The first one came in 1958. Instead of giving my own review of these, as I haven’t seen them all, I’ll use the accompanying write up about the story, found originally here.
At last, a film that might have actually inspired Alien instead of ripping it off. A space ship is sent to Mars to investigate the crash of another ship, and when the new crew rescues the lone survivor, they accidentally leave their hatch open, allowing an…”it” to climb aboard. In mid-flight, the creature begins to kill the astronauts in typically bloodless ’50s fashion. Despite the outlandish title, it’s one of the better, more serious-minded monster flicks of the decade.
While a film like this may be more akin to something that resembles the creature from the black lagoon, it still was an early attempt at horror mixing with science fiction. Horror stories don’t have to always be about ghosts. Monsters, in particular incredibly terrifying ones, really add to that scare factor.
And one of the most famous sci fi monsters came almost twenty years after It: The Terror Beyond Space premiered.
When a spaceship responds to a distress signal on a nearby planet, it unexpectedly picks up an alien life form that hides on board the ship, killing the crew one by one. The outer space horror movie that all others are measured against, Alien is one of the most influential horror movies of all time, spawning multiple rip-offs and three more space-set sequels:Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection.
Alien is considered the best of the sci fi movie monsters to come out in a while, and one of the reasons was for how Ridley Scott originally presented the alien on screen. We saw very little of it, or if we did, it was in shadow with few details visible. Since then we know very well what the creature looks like, with the three sequels along with two tilts against the alien hunters the Predators. And now, we’ve seen what even came before Alien with the recent release of Prometheus.
While most of these films that take place in outer space include some terrifying alien monster, such as Critters, Dracula 3000, Doom, Creature and the Japanese film The Green Slime. But one film had Hellraiser like effectiveness. It didn’t deal with just a monster, it dealt with terror of the mind.
Oft-maligned director Paul W.S. Anderson (AKA Mr. Milla Jovovich) delivers this dark, disturbing tale of a space ship, the Event Horizon that pops up in the year 2047 after disappearing for seven years. When a rescue ship is dispatched to investigate, the crew discovers that theEvent Horizon has been to another dimension, bringing back with it an evil presence that makes people’s fears materialize.
Event Horizon was chilling. It had a jump in your seat factor that did scare the crap out of the viewer (not literally, mind you). Even when the movie came to it’s conclusion, you were sure if the nightmare was really gone or not.
Even the standard slasher movie has made it’s way into space, as we’ve seen with Jason X and Leprechaun 4: In Space. Jason X keeps it’s formula but in a new place as we learn the machete wielding undead was captured by the government, frozen and forgotten until a group of 25th Century students find him and do the one thing that you never do in that situation. They unfreeze him.
Movies aren’t the only place to find good sci fi horror fare. Books have been producing a lot of this cross genre story telling for over a century, with one of the best known being Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson‘s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. More recent is Scott Sigler’s Infected and Contagious. A complete list of user suggested sci fi horror can be found at Goodreads, though there are some which might be considered questionable to put into either the sci fi or horror genres. One such would be George Orwell’s 1984, though that could be seen more as dystopian future instead of horror or sci fi.
Even somic books have taken a stab at the sci fi horror mix, with so many titles and stories that have been about creatures from space or some alien invasion by a horrifying force. Before the Comcis Code Authority kicked in, there were some truly on the edge stories being created.
So if science fiction is more your liking, but still want to have some scary Halloween viewing, these may be of interest.