10 Classic Sci-fi Films You Probably Haven’t Seen

6. Invention for Destruction (1958)

You’ve never seen anything like Karel Zeman’s tribute to Jules Verne. Today, the visually spellbinding Czechoslovak film might bring to mind Wes Anderson or Tim Burton, but truthfully, it’s hard to find a comparison. Although a general synopsis might make it sound run-of-the-mill, there’s something truly special about Zemen’s work.

Invention for Destruction is primarily based on the 1896 novel Facing the Flag by Jules Verne. Verne’s work has never been particularly abstract, and that remains true in this film. When it comes to storytelling, Invention for Destruction is relatively straightforward. There’s depth to the story, but it’s not an intellectual exercise. Instead, Invention for Destruction stands out because it’s a traditionally entertaining film with distinctive visuals.

The seamless mix of animation and live-action footage results in a hypnotic motion picture that remains appealing to this day. Certain scenes are liable to imprint themselves into a person’s brain because, frankly, they’re incomparable. When you pair this with a plot that emphasizes fun, you’ll find a movie that begs to be seen.


7. Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession (1973)

If you scroll through the user reviews for Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession, you’ll learn that many Russian viewers hold this film near and dear to their hearts. Unfortunately, its popularity hasn’t translated outside its country of origin. This eccentric time travel comedy benefits from some knowledge of Russian history, but at the same time, it has international appeal thanks to its timely jokes and slapstick comedy.

At its core, Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession revolves around a building superintendent who swaps places with Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Following the switch, fish out of water jokes fly at the audience. Lighthearted comedy is the primary source of entertainment here, so viewers looking for something deeper should search elsewhere. Still, this offbeat genre mixup never fails to keep the laughs coming.


8. The Masters of Time (1982)

René Laloux, the French animator best known for Fantastic Planet, actually has some additional feature length releases worth checking out. Although the aforementioned film remains his most acclaimed, The Masters of Time also stands out as a top-tier animated sci-fi flick. Its inventive storytelling, mixed with gorgeous animation and groundbreaking worldbuilding, allow it to stand on its own.

On the surface, this is a film about a young boy who gets stranded on a desert planet. However, fans of Fantastic Planet know there is far more beneath the surface. After the initial conflict is introduced, Laloux and his co-writers slowly reveal deeper intricacies. In order to avoid spoilers, these deeper intricacies will remain vague. That being said, there are so many bizarre, hard-to-predict layers waiting to be uncovered.

At the same time, we all know that unique storytelling can only push a film so far. As previously stated, The Masters of Time is more than just bizarre twists and turns; it’s a visually stunning head-scratcher that continuously asks the audience to trust the storytelling process. Folks willing to follow along for the ride will be rewarded.


9. Miracle Mile (1988)

Miracle Mile (1988)

At first glance, Miracle Mile might resemble something like Before Sunrise. Especially in the beginning, it’s a dialogue-driven romance movie about two people who slowly fall in love with one another. Although the romance is initially charming and innocent, the central conflict eventually reveals itself. When Harry, the protagonist, confusedly picks up a payphone, he learns some unsettling news; a nuclear war is approaching.

Miracle Mile successfully juggles both the romance and the drama brought on by the impending apocalypse. The overall conflict results in some tense, even stressful, scenes. At the same time, the love of two well-developed characters helps entice viewers who aren’t quite as interested in nuclear warfare

In other words, the film walks a tightrope. It provides entertainment for two different types of viewers, and since everything is so well put together, it manages to tick a majority of boxes. It’s an effective romance movie that also happens to focus on apocalyptic warfare.


10. Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)

It’s surprisingly easy to figure out why Nothing Lasts Forever lived its life as an unreleased film for so long. Although nobody has actually confirmed the reasoning behind the long-delayed release, one can surmise that it has something to do with its unconventional storytelling and borderline arthouse tendencies. Considering the fact that it appeared to be an oversized SNL skit, test audiences likely weren’t pleased by its more experimental nature.

Although initially billed as a comedy, Nothing Lasts Forever is never particularly funny. It’s consistently amusing, sure, but it never attempts to make viewers fall out of their seats laughing. Instead, the unconventional storytelling and character development do most of the heavy lifting.

The film focuses on an average New Yorker who discovers an underground network of homeless people who claim to control the world. Again, it’s not exactly your father’s sci-fi movie. The almost dystopian nature of the planet helps the protagonist make most of his life-altering decisions, and by the end, viewers are left with a quirky story about self discovery and the value of outside thinkers.

On the one hand, Nothing Lasts Forever juggles far too many ideas. On the other hand, it’s a strange oddity that deserves to be seen. Its eccentricities make it one hell of an afternoon watch even if things don’t always gel together.