6. Redline (2009)
With over 100,000 hand-made drawings, animated over seven years, Redline might be one of the most impressive anime, or animated movies in general, out there. Takeshi Koike’s directorial debut is a sci-fi auto racing film of immense scale. The film is graphic, absurd, exhilarating, over-stimulating, and mostly just outright insane, yet it works perfectly.
Redline is the most dangerous car race in the universe, held only once every five years. In the Redline race anything is possible and anything is allowed. Vehicles are equipped with all sorts of weapons that make the race an exciting show to watch. Due to its ‘no rules’ policy the race is forbidden by authorities, which make it their job to put a halt to the event, but they won’t be able to catch up with the competitors. We follow one of the racers, JP, who wants his spot on the podium while also having a side-goal: winning the love of his opponent Sonoshee, with whom he’s in love.
Redline is definitely a recommendation for any anime fan, but also for fans of the ‘death game’ genre like Death Race 2000 and for fans of the visuals of Wachowski’s Speed Racer and Wright’s Scott Pilgrim.
7. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
When talking about X, the creative mind that directed it deserves a paragraph honoring his brilliance. Roger Corman is a well-known name in the film industry. With the general public he is most well-known for ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and for a number of his Edgar Allen Poe-adapted films like ‘The Masque of the Red Death,’ Pit and the Pendulum,’ and ‘House of Usher.’ Within the film industry he might be more known for his role as a mentor to some of the most popular directors working today. The ‘Corman Film School’ was attended by names such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, James Cameron, and many more. He’s a pioneer of modern Hollywood and deserves to be celebrated a lot more than he already is.
His film X, is a classic science-fiction, horror tale starring Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier. Xavier is a brilliant scientist, experimenting with the human eye-sight. On the brink of a breakthrough his funding is cut off and he must resort to experiment on himself. At first his drug gives him the ability to see through objects, but when he gradually starts to test more, it turns his sight in a sort of all-seeing eye, but with it his sanity gradually starts to go down. His slow descent into madness makes for a disturbing, but compelling picture. A must-see for any science fiction fan.
8. Planet of the Vampires (1965)
Mario Bava is known as one of the greatest masters of Italian horror. His influence in the horror genre is huge as many of his films went on to inspire horror subgenres on international grounds. His film ‘The Girl Who Knew Too Much’ started the Giallo craze, ‘A Bay of Blood’ inspired the slasher genre, and ‘Kill, Baby, Kill’ influenced the modern J-horror. Besides making exceptional horror films Bava also ventured into the sci-fi genre once in a while, be it in combination with the horror genre. Planet of the Vampires might be the most notable of his sci-fi works.
The story follows the crew of spaceship Galliot, which together with another spaceship, Argos, are sent to investigate the mysterious planet Aura. On arrival at planet Aura, the crew of Galliot suddenly starts to behave strangely and attacks each other for no reason. When this occurrence ends relatively well the crew heads out towards spaceship Argos. Here they find out the crew from Argos experienced a similar sudden outburst of violence, but for them it didn’t end too well. This horror isn’t enough already, cause when they investigate the planet further, they’ll come across a nightmarish alien species.
The film is of course filled with the recognizable, colorful Bava style. The imaginative sets are already reason enough to check this one out, but the moments of eerie horror are definitely a plus as well.
9. Dark Star (1974)
In this sci-fi satire, the crew of spaceship ‘Dark Star’ is on a mission to destroy unstable planets. 20 years deep into their mission they are having trouble containing ‘Bomb,’ a sensitive, intelligent bombing device that starts to question the meaning of its existence. On top of that, their alien mascot (a beach ball-shaped alien) escapes and disrupts the peace on their ship.
We go from one horror legend in Bava to another with John Carpenter’s Dark Star. Carpenter has combined horror and science fiction plenty of times, but with his feature length debut he ventured into the sci-fi comedy genre. Dark Star initially started out as a student film collaboration between John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon, whom later ended up co-writing Carpenter’s Alien. The student film was only 45 minutes long, but was later extended in length to make up for a feature length film. Because of this O’Bannon named the film “world’s most impressive student film and world’s least impressive professional film.” How impressive or unimpressive the film may be, it for sure is good for a lot of laughs!
10. The Face of Another (1966)
The second Japanese film in the list takes us back to Japanese New Wave of the 60’s. Hiroshi Teshigahara’s film did poorly upon initial release since people felt it did not live up to his previous film ‘The Woman in the Dunes.’ No matter if it did or didn’t it is still a very impressive sci-fi horror and a great addition to Teshigahara’s filmography.
In ‘The Face of Another’ businessman Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) is facially disfigured after a laboratory explosion. He receives treatment from a doctor which eventually gives him a life-like mask, changing his appearance. With his new face, Okuyama attempts in seducing his own wife and succeeds, making him insecure about their love, even though his wife claims she recognized him immediately. Gradually Okuyama’s personality changes for the worse when wearing the mask.
The film is an interesting study in losing one’s identity, haunting yet beautiful. The main plot already has great impact, but the sub plot about a disfigured woman, that is interwoven through the film in small segment, really enhances the message as well as the haunting feeling that comes with it.