15 Great Sci-fi Movies Most People Didn’t See

8. Turbo Kid (2015)

Turbo Kid

Set in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of an alternate 1997, Munro Chambers plays an orphaned teen who must do battle with a ruthless warlord named Zeus (Michael Ironside) to save Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), this dream girl.

After the film’s SXSW premiere, We Got This Covered’s Matt Donato raved that “[Turbo Kid] is a magical can’t-miss experience that’s like a Saturday morning cartoon turned into an apocalyptic 80s fever-dream […] A stunning visual masterpiece that redefines the phrase ‘low-budget filmmaking’.”

Other genre-appreciative blogs son chimed in, with Dread Central calling it, “Funny, gory, hugely enjoyable and – most importantly – shining with spirit […] Everyone involved should be thoroughly proud of themselves.”

Written and directed by the pastiche-loving triumvirate of François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell, Turbo Kid is a goofy, gory, and fist-pumping cult film offering, and finger’s crossed the rumored sequel will materialize before too long.


7. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988)

The Navigator A Medieval Odyssey (1988)

Darkly thrilling, innovative and exciting, Vincent Ward’s The Navigator made a splash in the late 80s where it scooped up several Australian and New Zealand awards (the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film amongst them), but today seems largely forgotten. And that’s a shame as it holds up rather well as an all too rare example of medieval science fiction.

Unspooling in Cumbria, England of 1348, a small mountain village prepares for the deathly onslaught of the Black Plague. Their only hope comes from Griffin (Hamish McFarlane), a nine year-old boy gifted with second sight who envisions salvation by journeying on a quest into another world.

With his brother, Connor (Bruce Lyons) and a small band of companions, Griffin leads them into a time portal to the 20th century. Taken to 1988 New Zealand, our heroes confront a series of challenges more frightening than the world they once knew.

An unassuming epic, The Navigator is mesmerising, deeply strange, and difficult to shake. Don’t miss it.


6. The Incident (2014)

El Incidente (2014)

Mexican filmmaker Isaac Ezban made a startlingly assured directorial debut with The Incident, a character-driven morality tale/adventure yarn that twists time with alacrity. Trapped in a Möbius strip-like stairwell, brothers Carlos and Oliver (Humberto Busto and Fernando Álvarez), along with detective Raúl (Raúl Méndez), gradually begin to realize that they’re stuck in a time loop. A similar trap has ensnared a family road trip where 10-year-old Roberto (Santiago Mendoza Cortes) swears his bickering parents keep driving down the same lonely strip of desert road.

Engrossing, and good-looking, the film is quite an achievement, and Ezban proves to be a storyteller who can be both shrewd and deeply felt. Rarely has the psychological and emotional strains of time travel been this deeply investigated, making The Incident an unmissable misadventure.


5. Demon Seed (1977)

Demon Seed (1977)

Donald Cammell’s sci-fi horror film Demon Seed, based of the 1973 Dean Koontz novel, is an alternately exciting, occasionally cheesy, but always entertaining cinematic diversion. Perhaps over-praised by critic Leo Goldsmith as “a combination of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, with a dash of Buster Keaton’s Electric House thrown in,” Demon Seed is something of a pop culture touchstone, and much of that is owed to star Julie Christie.

As child psychologist Susan Harris, Christie chews the scenery and has few qualms with how her home is operated by a computer program called the Proteus IV. Susan’s inventor hubby Alan (Fritz Weaver) is the man who gave Proteus IV it’s artificial intelligence, and his unhealthy obsession with technology will be his destruction as his own invention becomes self-aware, taking Susan hostage in her own home and conspiring to impregnate her with a new kind of progeny. Alternately silly and strangely convincing, Demon Seed is something of a guilty pleasure, but it’s also prophetic and fucked up.


4. Dark Star (1974)

Dark Star (1974)

John Carpenter’s first flight as filmmaker––co-written with Dan O’Bannon (Alien), who also stars––is a consistently clever black comedy set in space. Marred somewhat by uneven acting and a miniscule budget, Dark Star nevertheless delivers some stylish smarts, more than a few guffaws, and enough stinging satire to secure it the fan devotion which it sincerely deserves.

It’s a testament to Carpenter’s creativity that so much on screen stems from so little. A shoestring of around $60, 000 is used to maximum effect for a story set entirely in outer space, aboard the eponymous starship “Dark Star” in the mid 22nd century. The ship’s mission is to obliterate via AI-powered nuclear incendiary devices, unstable planets that could endanger human colonies. The ragtag crew are an odd assortment of surfers, hippies, and eccentrics, not to mention the ship’s mascot, an alien lifeform that looks little more than a beach ball. Okay, I’ve seen the movie several times and I’m fairly certain that it IS in fact a beach ball.

Fans of the BBC’s cult sci-fi TV sitcom Red Dwarf should note that that show’s creator, Doug Naylor, credits Dark Star as his inspiration for the series, so how cool is that? Add into the mix Carpenter’s very first synth-driven (and as always, exceptional) score and you’re left with a genre spoof that delights in strangeness and technology running amok. An impressive debut.


3. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)

Perhaps the ultimate midnight movie experience, or a close approximation thereof, Beyond the Black Rainbow is an artful, experimental, and inspired visual feast that pastiches the seditious leanings of Mario Bava, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and just a dash of Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Rarely are small-scale sci-fi films this adventurous and smartly surreal.

Set in the distant year 1983, writer-director Panos Cosmatos (Mandy [2018]) offers up a feverish, chimerical miracle of strange cinema, like an artifact from another era. Stylish to a fault, fantastic to the hilt, the story of a heavily sedated Eva Allan, cursed with ESP, desperate to escape the enigmatic institution that keeps her captive.

The synth-driven score from Sinoia Caves adds immeasurably to the film’s appeal (while also upping the Dark Star-era Carpenter vibe) and helps make Cosmatos’s idiosyncratic, strange, and onerous emotional environment all the more arresting. This isn’t a film for everyone, but those that it will resonate with will cherish this dark, and impending jewel.


2. A Boy and His Dog (1975)

A Boy and His Dog

Set amidst a post-nuclear war wasteland in the year 2024, L.Q. Jones’s amoral tale of survival, this quirky freak-out film inaugurated the post-apocalyptic genre with this cruel cinematic smorgasbord.

Based off Harlan Ellison’s award-winning novella, A Boy and His Dog stars a baby-faced Don Johnson as Vic, a shady scavenger who roams the wastes with his telepathic dog, Blood. When the duo stumble upon the suspicious and sexy Quilla June (Susanne Benton), a denizen of an underground society deep below the earth’s surface, Vic follows her down into the surreal depths.

As a doomsday fable of pitch-black proportions, A Boy and His Dog is quite singular, and sinister, and wonderfully hard to shake. Don’t miss it.


1. Zardoz (1974)


John Boorman’s criminally overlooked and unfairly maligned dystopian tour de force, Zardoz delves into class warfare and lysergic daydreams of a 23rd-century godhead that spews guns and ammunition to its worshippers while intoning, “The gun is good, the penis is evil!” Say what?! And did I mention that Sean Connery spends most of the film in a crimson diaper/loin cloth? Yup, he does.

This is easily the strangest film on this list –– that alone is no small feat –– and perhaps the easiest to deride and ridicule. And so doing tempers a truly original and challenging speculative fiction that frisks the line between silly surrealism and silly self-indulgence. Satire has seldom looked so strange, just ask the rebellious Zed (Connery), his discarded copy of The Wizard of Oz, or his love interest, Consuella (Charlotte Rampling, not giving any fucks at all), part of a noble race of immortals whose unjustly rule must draw to a close.

Zardoz is a film that’s as easy to mock as it is to enjoy and yet so much of the film is undeniably awe-inspiring, even occasionally beautiful, and ideal for late-at-night viewing with adventurous friends and copious amounts of kush. “Zardoz is pleased.”

Author Bio: Shane Scott-Travis is a film critic, screenwriter, comic book author/illustrator and cineaste. Currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, Shane can often be found at the cinema, the dog park, or off in a corner someplace, paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneScottravis.