Top Sci-Fi Horror Films From the Last 25 Years as Ranked by IMDb Usersby IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 11 months ago
From 1990 to 2015, Hollywood infected viewers with some scary good science-fiction horror films. Here are the top titles in the combined genre from the past 25 years, as ranked by IMDb users like yourself. Only titles with at least 100,000 votes were included. Spoiler alert: It's a lot of vampires, zombies, and space stuff! Don't agree with the rankings? Better shuffle forth and rate your genre favorites higher. — Gina Carbone
20. Alien³ (1992) and Prometheus (2012) – Ratings: 6.4 and 7.0 After Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien (8.5 rating) and James Cameron's 1986 Aliens (8.4) came a few lower-rated follow-ups in the same universe, including two with Sigourney Weaver's Ripley: David Fincher's Alien³ and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection, whose rating just missed this cut.
Most recently, Ridley Scott returned to his Alien roots for Prometheus. That philosophical film had the highest average user rating of the newer (post-'90s) Alien films, although nothing close to the originals. That's the danger of sequels and reboots: They rarely live up to the originals ... as you'll continue to see on this list.
19. Daybreakers (2009) – Rating: 6.5
Horror movie vampires are often depicted as terrifying, powerful monsters. But in this inventive and visually striking Ethan Hawke thriller, they are the majority of the population, and blood keeps them looking and acting relatively human. But with just 5 percent of the human race remaining, blood is the new currency in demand, and the lack of supply brings out the worst in the majority.
This is one of those thoughtful genre movies with a message that can easily be applied to modern society. Why isn't it rated higher? Some fans have questioned aspects of the plot and the pacing. Like many films in the sci-fi/horror world, it requires some suspension of disbelief.
18. 30 Days of Night (2007) – Rating: 6.6
This tense and unexpectedly moving vampire movie finally does the obvious — takes the characters to a place of perpetual night, so there's no daytime break from the blood carnage. Josh Harnett and Melissa George play a husband-and-wife sheriff team in a remote Alaskan town that basically becomes a vampire winter vacation resort, featuring some of the most cunning and unnerving (and foreign-tongued) vampires ever seen on screen.
17. Event Horizon (1997) – Rating: 6.7
Space horror provides endless possibilities, because anything could be out there, and there are so many ways to die — or (worse?) be stranded in claustrophobic confinement. This dark bit of terror is set in the year 2047, with a group of astronauts sent to investigate and recover a lost starship, Event Horizon, which disappeared seven years before and mysteriously returned. The star-studded cast — Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, and Jason Isaacs — is fantastic. This is also one of the first major films from director Paul W.S. Anderson, who went on to direct Resident Evil movies, plus AVP: Alien vs Predator.
16. Resident Evil (2002) – Rating: 6.7
Talk about launching a franchise. Several titles on this list are based from other source material — novels, comic books, and in this case a video game. "Resident Evil" is actually celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, after launching on PlayStation in 1996. The film franchise made an even bigger star of Milla Jovovichas amnesiac Alice, who works with a special military unit to contain an outbreak after a lab accident. This thing has spawned several sequels, including a few with relatively good ratings, including Resident Evil: Extinction (Rating: 6.3), Resident Evil: Damnation (6.5), and Resident Evil: Degenerion (6.6).
15. Pandorum (2009) – Rating: 6.8
This list is basically a game of catch between "infected"/zombie/vampire movies and space horror. Pandorum takes us back into space, zeroing in on two astronauts — played by Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster — who wake up with amnesia aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft, only to discover they are not alone. Funny how that keeps happening! If you head to the message board for this film, some fans are comparing it to Event Horizon and the Alien movies, with debate about which films deserve higher ratings.
14. Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) – Ratings: 6.8 and 7.0
Here's another character spawned from a graphic novel. Ron Perlman owns his role as demon superhero Hellboy. Interestingly enough, fans prefer his sequel to the original, giving it a higher rating. Both films were written and directed by modern horror maestro Guillermo del Toro, but apparently some things do get better the second time around. He's also rumored to be directing Hellboy 3. Third time's the charm?
13. Blade (1998) and Blade II (2002) – Ratings: 7.1 and 6.7
Wesley Snipes launched himself a film franchise as Blade — based on the Marvel Comics character — a half-vampire, half-mortal man who works to protect the human race. Fans loved the first two movies in the series. Blade: Trinity? Not so much. The third film is parked in the Meh zone with a tepid rating of 5.9. Sorry, Ryan Reynolds.
12. Underworld (2003) and Underworld: Evolution (2006)– Ratings: 7.0 and 6.8
In 2003, Kate Beckinsale rose to power as the ultimate badass dream girl, Selene, a vampire warrior who battles Lycans (werewolves) and falls in love with hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman). This franchise just keeps on going, even with a slightly lower rating for the first sequel, then decreasing ratings for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009) and Underworld: Awakening (2012). And they're not done. There are more movies ahead: a reboot and a sixth film with Beckinsale returning as Selene.
11. Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) – Ratings: 7.1 and 6.7
Sometimes it's a really good idea to be afraid of the dark. Here's another horror movie that, as the title suggests, makes good use of pitch black and combines the bloodthirsty night creature and space genres. It's a one-size-fits-all terror-fest, elevated by the star power of Vin Diesel as Riddick. He was such a standout that they went ahead and gave him a couple of other movies: the pretty-well-received Chronicles of Riddick and the slightly less beloved Riddick.
10. World War Z (2013) – Rating: 7.0
There were so many production issues in the making of this Brad Pitt movie that it seemed like it was destined for failure. Instead, it was destined to be the worldwide zombie apocalypse pandemic movie we had been waiting for. Yeah, it's nothing like the book, other than the awesome title, but it's one of the most realistic zombie movies — if that can be said — showing us government and army responses around the world. And that scene in Jerusalem! If anything, this one is underrated by users.
9. Cloverfied (2008) – Rating: 7.1
If the handheld camerawork doesn't just straight-up make you sick, it immerses you into the intense story, following a small group of New Yorkers trying to survive during a mysterious monster attack, all the while taping the experience in real time. This clever, "found-footage" creature feature wisely teases out the big bad, building anticipation and dread. It also recently led to a companion film, 10 Cloverfield Lane. But like a few movies on this list, it tends to elicit a polarizing reaction: Some fans absolutely love it, and others absolutely hate it.
8. The Ring (2002) – Rating: 7.1
Don't watch the tape! Naomi Watts classes up this horror movie as a journalist who investigates the urban legend where watching a certain videotape will lead to the viewer's death in one week. The Ring is an American remake of the popular 1998 Japanese movie Ringu, which is itself based on a novel. The U.S. version led to a much-less-appreciated 2005 sequel, The Ring Two, which currently has a rather sad 5.4 rating.
7. The Mist (2007) – Rating: 7.2
Frank Darabont directed this truly horrific thriller, based on a Stephen King novella, and several members of the cast ended up in his TV show, "The Walking Dead," including Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Melissa McBride, and Thomas Jane, who was almost cast as Rick Grimes.
The core of the story is pure King: An otherworldly mist descends on a small town, bringing with it bloodthirsty creatures. A group of residents end up trapped in a supermarket, where the better and worse parts of their nature emerge as they try to escape and survive.
This is a great sci-fi horror, perhaps downvoted a bit for the over-the-top religious angle or perhaps because of the changes from the book. But that ending! Come on, now. FYI, there's a TV series adaptation of King's story now in development, with a pilot ordered from Spike TV.
6. The Descent (2005) – Rating: 7.2
Claustrophobia + Creepy creatures trying to kill you = Ultimate nightmare. Instead of heading into space, The Descent heads in the opposite direction, sending a group of friends on a caving expedition that goes horribly wrong. This is the kind of movie that could keep you away from caves and any dark spaces for life. But it's also a compelling story of survival, with each main character pushed to her limit.
5. I Am Legend (2007) – Rating: 7.2
Despite the Bob Marley soundtrack, every little thing is not all right for Will Smith in this harrowing, heartbreaking, dystopian horror. Smith's Robert Neville appears to be the only survivor of a plague that was meant to cure cancer and instead kills most of humanity, leaving the rest as monsters who come out at night. Oops. As a scientist, Neville works to find a cure, while trying to survive with his dog, Sam.
This film is based on the novel by Richard Matheson, and it deserves comparisons to The Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth. It also deserves to stand on its own. But you should go rate this one higher for Sam. She deserves it.
4. Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Rating: 7.4
This could've, and maybe even should've, been a disaster. How dare anyone remake George A. Romero's 1978 classic, Dawn of the Dead? Well, thanks to a smart, funny, and modern script, lovable (and hateable) characters, memorable gore, and fast zombies, this 21st century version has its own loyal fanbase. But, appropriately enough, it is not as high-rated as Romero's classics: 1968's Night of the Living Dead (8.0) and the original Dawn of the Dead (8.0).
3. Rec (2007) – Rating: 7.5
If you like terrifying found-footage movies, peek through the fingers covering your eyes at this real-time thriller. The story is told from the perspective of a local Madrid TV crew, who follow emergency workers into a dark apartment complex and end up trapped inside with something awful. This kind of intense, close-up, first-person POV horror, starring relative unknowns, tends to scare the bejeezus out of fans. There's just something realistic about it that sticks with you. However, the 2008 U.S. remake, Quarantine, did not stick with fans, and it just has a 6.0 rating.
2. 28 Days Later (2002) and 28 Weeks Later (2007) – Ratings: 7.6 and 7.0
They're not zombies. They're "infected" — with rage. And they are fast as hell. Danny Boyle's low-ish-budget reboot of the genre started the whole running "zombie" trend, and gave us a hero who awoke into an undead apocalypse way before we watched Rick Grimes do it on "The Walking Dead."
The characters draw you in. The action is heart-pounding. The plot twists are terrifying, heartbreaking, and infuriating. And it all feels like it really could happen 28 days from right now. Or 28 weeks from now. Fans liked that sequel, too, just not as much as the blistering original.
1. Let the Right One In (2008) – Rating: 8.0
This is a beautiful, spare, dark, disturbing, sophisticated, sad, sweet, super-creepy character drama that just happens to be about the 12-year-old vampire next door. Eli has been 12 for more than 200 years now, but that's not something our main character, young Oskar, knows right away. He just knows he's bullied by other kids and falls in love with the peculiar Eli, whose continuing need for human blood becomes a serious problem.
This Swedish horror film is based on the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist, and it got itself an American remake, Let Me In, starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Richard Jenkins.
Despite the remake coming just two years after the original, fans still embraced it, giving it a 7.2 rating (although with fewer than 100,000 votes so far). If you head to the message boards on that one, you'll see there are actually a few fans who prefer the remake to the original.