Leave Space For Space Horror on your Halloween Watch List

Flat Earth Theatre
Oct 18 · 7 min read

And then see Flat Earth Theatre’s X, November 1–16

While working on Flat Earth Theatre’s X by Alistair McDowall, a play that centers on a crew of astronauts marooned on Pluto, our intrepid cast and crew have been mining space horror movies for inspiration… or just for fun. What we’ve learned through our sci-fi adventures is that space is terrifying!!! The whole place wants you dead. There’s no air or pressure; it’s way too cold AND way too hot; the vastness of space will drive you out of your gourd. And that’s even before you start to factor in that alien life will find newer and cleverer ways to hunt you down and make you into a stew.

Embark on our journey through the creepy cosmos for the rest of October with our Top 13 Space Horror Movies. And then join us for the blood-curdling X, November 1st through 16th at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA. Earth is seeming a whole lot less scary now.

Top 13 Space Horror Movies:

A man screams from inside a cryogenic freezer labeled “BOWER”
A man screams from inside a cryogenic freezer labeled “BOWER”

13) Pandorum (2009) (R)

For better or for worse (probably worse), this movie is two great films Frankensteined into one, so try to keep up. We’ve got an interstellar colonist ship that’s not working. That’s Bad Thing 1. Bad Thing 2 is the massive number of cannibal mutants between them and the reactor. And to round it off, Bad Thing 3 is the space psychosis of the C.O. who brings along with him a bunch of plot twists that are Bad Things 4 and beyond. Got all that? Because there is a LOT (some might say too much) going on on this ship.

Serial killer Jason Vorhees wearing a hockey mask, being thawed from a cryogenic freezer
Serial killer Jason Vorhees wearing a hockey mask, being thawed from a cryogenic freezer

12) Jason X (2001) (R)

Looking for something more in the slapstick slasher category? Where would we be if we didn’t include something just extraneously camp on the list? Someone (scientist? film writer? both?) had the bright idea to put Jason Vorhees in cryo-sleep, and 400 years later a group of punk scavengers wake him up on their spaceship. It’s an extremely entertaining dumpster fire you just can’t tear your eyes away from. Other body parts though, they may get suitably torn apart.

A specimen in a petri dish leaning toward someone’s hand in a rubber glove
A specimen in a petri dish leaning toward someone’s hand in a rubber glove

11) Life (2017) (R)

David Bowie famously asked “Is there life on Maaaaars?” Well let’s hope not if it’s the kind of creatures in this movie! And let’s extra hope it doesn’t get loose on the International Space Station and — oh no it just did! This movie is all ground (or the opposite of ground? space?) we’ve tread before in better films and there’s an alien that sorta looks like a used bandaid, but you’ll see a lot of cool antigravity and some actors everyone loves. As Bowie also said, “Look at those cavemen go. It’s the freakiest show.”

A figure looking out at a sun about to be eclipsed by an alien ringed planet
A figure looking out at a sun about to be eclipsed by an alien ringed planet

10) Pitch Black (2000) (R)

This one manages to be great and bad at the same time, and comes with a cult following typical of something of great-badness. It stars Vin Diesel, so it’s got that going for it at least. The visuals are sublime, as the story follows a spacefaring crew stranded on a planet with no night… until an eclipse plunges them into darkness and things start to get ridiculous, but the lighting is just entrancing! There’s even more in The Chronicles of Riddick series, if you want more of that great-bad feeling.

A figure walking into a computer simulation of stars and planets
A figure walking into a computer simulation of stars and planets

9) Prometheus (2012) (R)

Never meet your heroes, kids. Or your ancestors, evidently, because the origins of humanity may also be its ultimate destruction. While serving as a prequel to Alien, this movie ticks a lot of the same boxes as its horror kin while simultaneously mixing a little bit of Indiana Jones for that archaeology flavor. Mmm, tastes like viscous alien sludge.

A woman on a space station holding a photograph of herself
A woman on a space station holding a photograph of herself

8) Solaris (1972) (PG)

If you’ve got the stamina, you might find Solaris really interesting. But it’s also really long and slow. And the original is all in Russian. And just… boy, it’s long. But it’s a freakin’ classic and considered one of the greats! Skip the first hour or so, and enjoy the existential crises of a team on a space station being visited by figments of their memories… and then more existential crises of those visitors learning they’re not real! And then have an existential crisis yourself when you realize you’ve been watching this movie for close to three hours.

An astronaut on the moon holding a cracked helmet
An astronaut on the moon holding a cracked helmet

7) Apollo 18 (2011) (PG-13)

Currently available on Netflix, and way better than its IMDB rating purports. In the vein of found-footage films like The Blair Witch Project, Europa Report (read on for that one), and Cloverfield, the movie is an assemblage of video footage of a lunar mission that was purportedly scrubbed from history. Officially, Apollo 17 was the last mission to the moon, but what if there was an 18th? And what if they weren’t alone up there?

A figure retreating from an orb of light
A figure retreating from an orb of light

6) Event Horizon (1997)

This movie is “WTF” made into a film, and far and away the goriest thing on this list. If an experimental starship that went missing on its maiden voyage — attempting to break dimensionality by creating a black hole, like you do — suddenly reappeared, you’d want to know where it’s been, right? What if where it’s been is hell, and the deeper you go, the more horrifying things become? Too late to decide; you’re already there and also hallucinating.

Astronauts piloting a ship, with two pilots in the front and four crewman in the background
Astronauts piloting a ship, with two pilots in the front and four crewman in the background

5) Europa Report (2013) (PG-13)

A solid example of the found-footage film genre. This mockumentary uncovers what happened to the crew that went radio silent while investigating life on Jupiter’s moon Europa. All the camera angles are clever, it’s all frightening but there’s actually no gore to speak of, and I really respect that most of the horror comes from the environments: space, ship, and planet. Ya know, until all that goes out the airlock.

A man silhouetted in front of a screen displaying the sun
A man silhouetted in front of a screen displaying the sun

4) Sunshine (2007) (R)

This movie just shines and shines and shines. The transition from typical science fiction in space to otherworldly thriller… still in space is just seamless. So seamlessly that you don’t even notice when you started clinging to your throw pillow on the couch, lifting your blanket up to your chin, or screaming that there’s some kind of monsterman on the ship! When did that even happen? That’s how seamless.

A man playing table tennis with a man who looks exactly like him
A man playing table tennis with a man who looks exactly like him

3) Moon (2009) (R)

Less slasher horror and more psychological nightmare, utterly captivating to watch. The core of Moon is an existential crisis that strips a man’s sense of identity straight out of his body, which of course is stranded on the moon. Can you really be alone when you have yourself to keep you company? The implications of this movie will have you checking to make sure you’re real. Like you could actually tell.

Closeup of the HAL-9000 camera lens with glowing red center
Closeup of the HAL-9000 camera lens with glowing red center

2) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (G)

If you thought we weren’t going to include one of the most iconic and monolithic films of all time on this list, then I’m sorry, Dave; I’m afraid I can’t do that. Stanley Kubric’s sci-fi masterpiece ranges all of history to plumb sci-fi’s depth and soar in its heights, and give you a lot of manic visuals too. You’ll see it parodied by everyone and their grandmother, but no one quite does it like the original, which still looks great at 50 years old. Would that we all had that stamina.

Ellen Ripley holding a flamethrower and walking cautiously down a corridor of a spaceship
Ellen Ripley holding a flamethrower and walking cautiously down a corridor of a spaceship

1) Alien (1979) (R)

A classic and the top of just about every sci-fi list. And for good reason, so it (and its sequels by proxy) is at the top of this list too! A violent, murderous alien is loose on a space tug and could be lurking around nearly any corner — what’s not to love? Considered one of the best films of all time, this one has a very special place in our hearts… right next to where something not of this world has burst out of our chests.

Well there you have it, space cadets. Sci-fi horror isn’t limited to the big screen; for a truly mind-bending, up-close-and-personal experience in the same realm as the films on our list, Boston-area readers should not miss the much-hyped X! Hop on a spaceship and come find out how our crew of Plutonians fares compared to the greats of cinema. Surely, you’ll make it back alive! https://www.flatearththeatre.com/shows/season-14/x/

Written by

Egalitarian fringe theatre company in Watertown, MA, crafting experiences that challenge the worldview of artist and audience. https://www.flatearththeatre.com

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