25 Great Cult Sci-fi Movies You May Have Missed

9. Five Million Years to Earth AKA Quatermass and the Pit 1967

Quatermass And The Pit

“Force more powerful than 1,000 H-Bombs unleashed to devastate Earth! World in panic! Cities in flames!” [10]. While digging a new subway line in London, unusual skeletons are found and what is believed to be an old German bomb.

A group of paleontologists, the military, and professor Bernard Quatermass all become involved as the military deals with the mysterious bomb and the others examine the ape men. They discover giant locust like insects in the bomb, and Quatermass deduces that it is an alien ship and that these aliens were actually the cause of human evolution. Buried deep in some of the human’s minds are the memories of these aliens and their instincts to kill anything that is inferior to them.

This film was a sequel to several previous British studio Hammer Films about Bernard Quatermass, including The Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass 2. There was also a BBC television series that this film was based upon called Quatermass and the Pit, released in 1958 and 1959.

Despite the dated special effects, this is a very well done thriller mystery film that quickly turns into a terrifying sci-fi horror film in the closing fifteen minutes. Director Roy Ward Baker had made films for both Hammer and its rival Amicus Productions, and his “unraveling of this crisp thriller is tough and interesting. […]

The film has moments of pure terror, perhaps the most effective that in which the drill operator, driven off the spaceship by the mysterious power within is caught up in a whirlwind that fills the excavation with a mass of flying papers.” [11]. It featured appearances by James Donald, Julian Glover, Barbara Shelley, and Andrew Kier. Kier is very good as Quatermass and his arguments with Colonel Breen (Glover) are some of the best scenes of the film.


10. Barbarella 1968


“The space age adventuress whose sex-ploits are among the most bizarre ever seen” [12]. Based upon a French comic, this is the ultimate in sexual science fiction. Set in the 41st century, Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is sent by the President of Earth to rescue Doctor Durand Durand and retrieve his Positronic Ray. She travels to the planet of Lythion, where a new sin is invented every hour. In order to achieve her mission, she must subject herself to the sexual horrors of a neurotic city.

This includes a sex organ keyboard, a fantasy dream chamber, a lesbian queen, a giant hookah that dispenses the essence of a man, creepy children of the corn kids with biting dolls, leather robots, a blind bird man, a clumsy revolutionary, and a living labyrinth; all of this while appearing in eight different scantily clad outfits.

The film is a unique mix of sex, comedy, cheesiness, “pop-art psychedelics, free-love promiscuity and free-for-all politics” [13]. If you don’t take it too serious and just enjoy the ride, this is a hilarious sexy version of Flash Gordon. The sets design and outfits are creative and colorful, a combination of campy and kitsch. They are reminiscent of the low budget sci-fi space films from the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Jane Fonda does a good job in her performance, even though a large portion of it is looking sexy. Despite the large amount of sex involved, Barbarella is an empowered female. She is never forced into anything; she does it all out of her own free will. This film would go on to inspire the X rated sex comedy Flesh Gordon (1974). It is also a predecessor to Demolition Man, with a future where natural sex has been eliminated.


11. The Astro-Zombies 1968


“Dismembered Bodies, Transplanted Organs, Are Used To Create The…” [14]. A sci-fi horror film that was written, directed, and produced by Ted V. Mikels, who was one of the major kings of super low budget films. It is high up on the list for one of the worst films ever made, which automatically makes it essential viewing for hardcore low budget film fans.

Basically, poor John Carradine plays a mad scientist who creates a zombie like monster that pretty much runs on a car battery (they call them photocells) and is made up of criminal’s dead body parts. So naturally, his monster goes on a killing spree. The astro-zombie does have a pretty cool skull like helmet that makes him look almost alien. The movie has a really kick ass poster and the original trailer is pretty great also.


12. THX 1138 1971


“Visit the future where love is the ultimate crime” [15]. Set sometime in the future in an underground dystopian society, the population is strictly controlled; sexual intercourse is not permitted, they are required to take drugs in order to regulate emotions and improve job productivity, they all wear identical white clothing and have shaved heads, they are monitored by android police, and worship a god that produces the same prompted responses during confessionals.

THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) and LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie) stop taking their drugs and develop a sexual relationship, which leads to the trial and imprisonment of THX 1138. He is imprisoned with SEN 5241 (Donald Pleasance) and they seek to escape along with SRT 5752.

This was the first film directed by George Lucas and it was based on a short film that he made while attending the University of Southern California. You could tell the potential that he had for world building and the direction is outstanding, with this being a far superior film to Star Wars depending on your personal opinion. The film features gorgeous set designs and stark colors of the mostly all white buildings and uniforms, versus the black uniforms and silver heads of the android police officers.

The performances by Duvall, McOmie, and Pleasance are all very good, with Pleasance particularly standing out as a strange and slightly unhinged character. There are some excellent shots in the film; mostly involving close ups of Duvall and McOmie’s characters.

There is also a very great overhead scene of Duvall in an all white location, surrounded by several black police with long poles electrocuting him. There are several versions of this floating around, as Lucas re-released this in 2004 with new footage and additional digital effects added.


13. Turkish Star Trek AKA Turist Omer Uzay Yolu’nda 1973

Turkish Star Trek

This is a Turkish produced film that is considered Turksploitation, which were unauthorized Turkish film adaptations often using American copyrighted characters, movies, and television series. These films would often use soundtracks from the original films, and various clips from the films.

What’s great about the Turkish Star Trek is that they didn’t even try to change anything; they lifted everything from the original series including the set design, monsters, costumes, and characters. The Turkish film is a recreation of the episode entitled “The Man Trap” except for the addition of a Turkish character called Omer the tramp, who was a well known comedic character in the country.

The Omer character creates a fish out of water scenario and is able to add some comedic elements that wouldn’t have been part of that episode. In order to make it a feature length film, they added some additional scenes from other classic episodes including the fight between Spock and Kirk.

This Turkish rip off isn’t as action packed and entertaining as Turkish Star Wars, 3 Dev Adam, and some of the other rip off films. This one would interest true Star Trek fans the most in order to see how another country handled the original source material.


14. Zardoz 1974

Zardoz 1974

“I have seen the future and it doesn’t work” [16]. In the year 2293, the world has been divided into two groups, the civilized immortal Eternals and the barely civilized mortal Brutals. A group of Brutal Exterminators maintain control and kill the other Brutals, at the orders of a huge flying head called Zardoz.

In exchange for food that is collected, Zardoz exchanges weapons for the Brutal Exterminator. One Exterminator named Zed (Sean Connery), hides on Zardoz to discover what is on the other side. There he meets two Eternals and discovers that a plague is among the Eternals, causing them to lose interest in life and fall into catatonia. While there he discovers the true origin and nature of the god called Zardoz.

This one will probably cause a divide in opinion among sci-fi fans, you’re either going to love it or hate it. It has some amazing imagery, especially the large Zardoz head and the look of the Brutals. The overall cinematography is great; it is a pretty mesmerizing movie. There is some humor, plus you’ll either love or laugh at the way Sean Connery looks in the film. The downside is the plot can get confusing and slow at times, plus the big reveal moment may not be as exciting as people had hoped for.

This was written, produced, and directed by John Boorman, who had previous success with Point Blank, Hell in the Pacific, and most notable Deliverance. It was his commercial success with Deliverance that gave him free reign on this film.

In his career, he has been noted for being a bit pretentious and for going on ego-trips [17]. He should be commended for trying to push the boundaries in the hopes of making something that was on the level of a Stanley Kubrick and 2001 [17]. The movie did not do very well at the box office, but has cult following among sci-fi fans, “playing at revival houses, on college campuses, and on the midnight movie circuit for several years” [17].


15. Flesh Gordon 1974


“An outrageous parody of yesterdays’ super heroes!” [18]. The opening tagline essentially says it all; as a trio of earthlings (Flesh Gordon, Dale Ardent, and Flexi Jerkoff) goes to the planet porno in order to stop the evil Emperor Wang and his powerful sex ray that makes everyone on earth crazy sex fiends. With the help of the obviously gay Prince Precious, Gordon battles monster chicks with dicks, a one-eyed penisaurus, Amazon lesbians, a mechanical praying mantis, and the giant ape like Great God Porno.

So much could be said about this film, it is a masterpiece of low budget comedic filmmaking that mixes satire, campyness, gratuitous nudity and sexual situations. It also has stop-motion animation effects, great low budget miniatures, a great opening comic style title scene, and a great score that is able to combine both the classic hero sound with the whimsical.

Yes there is a lot of nudity, but it’s a comedy not a porno. Depending on your tastes, this is a nonstop laugh riot with tons of great dialogue and bits. Almost every line of dialogue could be listed, along with the character names and various moments throughout the movie. The stop-motion animation and miniature effects are excellent and call back to the low budget sci-fi films of the 1950’s, oh and the spaceship that Jerkoff creates is shaped liked a penis and all of the parts came from the Sears catalog.

This is just a great movie that I don’t have enough words to talk about. Some people may be put off by the large amount of nudity, but despite its exploitative nudity it is essentially a comedy.


16. Dark Star 1974

Dark Star (1974)

“What would you be like after 20 years aboard DARK STAR the spaced-out spaceship. The ultimate cosmic comedy!” [19]. This is a low budget sci-fi satire that was John Carpenter’s first film, starting out as a film project while he was still at the University of Southern California.

The story revolves around a crew’s mission to destroy unstable planets that may threaten future inhabitable planets. During their time on the ship, they deal with personal boredom by listening to music, smoking cigars, playing practical jokes on each other, playing on a weird handmade jug and can organ, sunbathe, and deal with the ship falling apart and having malfunctions.

They also battle an alien mascot that they have and a bomb that believes in its own existence and that its sole purpose in life is to explode. Despite the extremely low budget you could tell that Carpenter had talent, as he makes good use of extreme close ups and angles and creates a sense of tension in the confined spaces. The alien subplot was created by Dan O’Bannon and would serve as the basis for his script for Alien (1979).


17. Bug 1975

Bug 1975

“They Look Like Rocks…Possess A High Intelligence…Have No Eyes…And Eat Ashes…They Travel In Your Car Exhaust…They Make Fire…They Kill” [20]. Based on the Thomas Page novel called The Hephaestus Plague, an earthquake releases a group of prehistoric bugs resembling cockroaches that create fires in order to feed off of the carbon ashes.

The result is a large group of fires and some brutal deaths as houses, cars, and people get set on fire. A science professor played by Bradford Dillman figures out that they will die from the earth’s surface pressure, but he keeps one alive and cross breeds it and ends up creating a super bug; one that’s intelligent, can communicate, creates fires, and can fly.

This movie is strange, creepy, and is somewhat confusing. If you are scared of bugs, then this movie will creep the living shit out of you; with big cockroaches going around setting fires, crawling into a woman’s hair and setting her on fire, setting a cat on fire, and tons of close up bug shots.

The high pitched tonal music and the noises that the bugs make to communicate add to the overall creepiness of the film. The confusing part of the movie is what exactly is the motivation for this scientist to try and cross breed this bug, as a scientist shouldn’t he have realized that that was probably going to be a bad idea.

The direction is well done, with some very good scenes; including the church falling apart, a truck on fire in the background with one of the bugs staged close up to the left on some dirt, and several close ups panning towards Dillman’s face showing him break down. This film is as much about bugs as it is the scientist’s descent into madness, with Dillman having a good performance as essentially the only important character in the film.