Five Films That Bridge The Sci-Fi/Horror Divide

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Both horror and sci-fi fans are some of the most loyal, die-hard groups one is likely to encounter. But there is a fine line between loyalty and fanaticism. Sometimes your friends (or perhaps you) are dead-set against watching anything other than your chosen genre.

If you have a friend who enjoys science fiction, but just can't get into horror, you might want to recommend a few films that could change his mind. The following five films are arranged so that the number five choice is pretty much undiluted science fiction, while each successive film edges closer to pure horror. Films that were traditionally horror, but were placed in a sci-fi setting, such as Jason X, Hellraiser: Bloodline, etc., will (mercifully) be omitted.

5- Star Trek: First Contact (1996) Why will your friend like it?: It's Star Trek, so it should sell itself. What's the horror connection?: It's essentially a zombie movie.

If you've never seen First Contact, the plot revolves around the crew of the Enterprise being forced to go back in time to thwart a Borg invasion. If you're unfamiliar with the Borg, they're a cyborg race that needs to enslave (or “assimilate”) other humanoid races to expand their empire. When you get attacked by a Borg, you usually become a Borg. The Borg are pale and like to stalk around silently. There are definitely some parallels that can be drawn between the Borg and zombies. The film has some comedy elements so it's not especially dark and, while the Borg are sort of disturbing, they're not really scary, so this should be an easy first step.

If your friend likes this movie, you might want to recommend: Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead.

4- Doom (2005) Why will your friend like it?: It's got enough high-tech gadgets and genetic manipulation techno-babble to satisfy his sci-fi leanings. What's the horror connection?: It's a “tampering with human DNA creates monsters” story.

Doom, based upon the video game of the same name, is the story of space marines who go on a mission to see why contact was lost with a Martian research facility. The monsters are well-done and the action is plentiful. To someone who hasn't watched a lot of horror movies, it might even seem somewhat scary.

If your friend likes this movie, you might want to recommend: Species, The Relic.

3- Pitch Black (2000) Why will your friend like it?: It's a grittier sci-fi film than either Star Trek or Doom, but it's still got spaceships and distant planets, so it shouldn't take him too far out of his comfort zone. What's the horror connection?: It's a “stranded in the middle of nowhere and chased by monsters” film.

Pitch Black is the story of a group of people who crash-land on a planet and find that it's not quite as deserted as they initially believe it to be. The film has excellent atmosphere and the creatures are interesting. Fans of science fiction will get just enough sci-fi stuff thrown in to keep them engaged, but the horror is not watered down as a result.

If your friend likes this movie, you might want to recommend: The Descent, The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

2- Alien (1979) Why will your friend like it?: It's an excellent film and it's set almost entirely on a spaceship. What's the horror connection?: It's a “monster in the house” story.

Strangely, I still run into horror fans who have never seen Alien. If you fall into this category, do whatever is necessary to check this one out without delay. People are very familiar with the Alien these days, but the film still manages to get a good jolt out of you, due primarily to strong performances by the entire cast. As and added bonus, the next time someone asks you to name the android from the first Alien film, you won't embarrass yourself by (incorrectly) saying, “Bishop”.

If your friend likes this movie, you might want to recommend: The Thing (1982), Hellraiser.

1- Event Horizon (1997) Why will your friend like it?: It has enough time/space conjecture to satisfy even the most hardcore sci-fi fans. What's the horror connection?: It's a horror movie. Unlike the other films, this one isn't a science fiction film that has some horror overtones. Event Horizon is a horror film set in space.

You've probably already seen Event Horizon, but in case you missed it, the story concerns itself with a group of people who journey off to investigate a spaceship that has reappeared after unexpectedly disappearing about seven years prior. Turns out the crew of that mysterious ship were creating a black hole so that they could travel from one place to another more quickly. Stuff like this never goes well and creepy happenings begin to strike the rescue team. Sam Neil and Laurence Fishburne are excellent, but I feel that Kathleen Quinlan (as Lt. Peters) really steals the show. She brings a lot of raw emotion to the table and I actually felt bad for her character.

If your friend likes this movie, you might want to recommend: Nothing. If he likes Event Horizon, then he's found at least one horror movie that he enjoys. Mission complete. Still, if he's in the mood for some trippy psychological horror, have him try: The Shining (1980), The Blair Witch Project.

If your friend makes it all the way through to the end of Event Horizon, you've created another horror fan. Bear in mind the list works in reverse as well. For those of you out there who enjoy horror but don't really care for science fiction, try watching the above films in reverse (start with Event Horizon and work your way up to Star Trek: First Contact). You might find that you don't dislike sci-fi as much as you thought.

Until next time.

Editors Note: The above editorial is a guest editorial by a member of our horror community. If you would like to submit your own editorial for consideration email it to scoops@horror-movies.ca

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