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Best Sci-Fi Horror Movies

Though the sci-fi horror genre has been around for century, it’s really in the last few decades that it has hit it’s stride. Nowhere has that jump in popularity more prevalent or evident than in the world of film. The 70’s and 80’s represent a golden era in sci-fi horror movies, with the rise of such giants in the industry as John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott. But even from the 90’s onward sci-fi horror shows no signs of slowing down, and some really incredible entries have come out in just the last couple of years.

There are so many excellent sci-fi horror movies out there that it was very hard to narrow this down to a manageable list. Even with an “Honorable Mentions” section at the end, we know we missed plenty of viable candidates. Let us know some of the better films we left off down in the comments below!

Color Out of Space (2019)

Color out of space 2019 poster with sci-fi horror background

Did you know colors could be scary? H.P. Lovecraft certainly thought they could be, and he wrote a deeply unsettling story to prove it. Color Out of Space is a cosmic horror film based on that titular story, and it’s about the Gardner family who find that a meteorite has crash-landed on their farm. Suddenly, their once peaceful life in the country is shattered as the family finds themselves fighting an alien being that can infect and mutate their bodies and minds. Come for the Nicolas Cage performance, stay for the grotesque practical effects. With a slow build in the first half and a wild spree of body horror in the second half, Color Out of Space is a rare example of a Lovecraft adaptation done right. 

Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation horror movie poster with scary sci-fi landscape

Criminally underrated and suffering from a shoddy release, Annihilation is a film that deserves your attention and awe. Based on the book by Jeff Vandermeer, it’s a story about a group of scientists who venture into a mysterious zone called “the Shimmer” to collect data and locate the early explorers who have vanished inside. The movie shares some similarities with the book, but writer/director Alex Garland also made some significant changes and it’s best to view them as alternate entries in a shared universe. It’s notoriously difficult to translate cosmic horror to the big screen, but Annihilation manages to do it and do it well. Full of mind boggling images and a deep unfurling dread, this is a movie that really translates a sense of hopelessness and unfathomable fear.

Timecrimes (2007)

Timecrimes horror movie poster with creepy killer

Though perhaps more of a sci-fi thriller than horror, there are enough shocking scenes and gut-twisting suspense to earn the Spanish language film Timecrimes a spot on this list. The film opens with a man named Hector spying on a beautiful woman. His moment of voyeurism is suddenly disrupted when he is attacked by a man whose head is wrapped in bandages. Fleeing the scene, Hector is able to find refuge in a remote lab where a scientist convinces him to hide in what turns out to be a time machine. To say more would be to spoil critical scenes, but just know this movie, though saddled with a low budget and amatuer actors, is a wonderfully confounding and deeply disquieting.example of sci-fi horror.

Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon sci-fi horror movie poster with space ship and planet

Sure it flopped on its initial release (as did several other films on this list). Sure it’s been panned by critics and holds a highly debated place in film fandom. But whether you hate or, in our case, love it, there’s no denying that Event Horizon is fully ingrained in pop culture and space horror sensibilities. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about a spaceship that stumbles across a portal to hell. As this infernal dimension begins to assert it’s dark influence the crew is slowly driven into a violent madness. Full of existential dread and shots of pure horror, Event Horizon is a film not to be missed. Just hope you return from the experience in a better state than the crew.

The Fly (1986)

The Fly horror movie poster with a fly and black background

We’re big fans of both body horror and practical effects over here at Puzzle Box, and one of the movies that best combines those two elements is David Cronenburg’s The Fly. Really there are many great choices in the Cronenburg cannon, but picked this one for its engaging premise and delightfully gross effects. Jeff Goldbloom, who gives a particularly captivating performance, plays a scientist whose failed experiment in teleportation transforms him into a gigantic insect. It’s a disgusting and nightmarish riff on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, but it’s also a surprisingly poignant look into the complexity of human relationships. 

Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator horror movie poster featuring a severed head and a creepy scientist

Herbert West, a slightly off-kilter scientist, has discovered a secret formula that can reanimate dead tissue and ultimately bring the deceased back to life. After a successful trial run on a fellow student’s cat, West takes his extraordinary elixir to the morgue and from there all havoc breaks loose. Though the movie is loosely based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story, there were some major changes made and a lack of overall otherworldly dread. Instead we get a gloriously violent and darkly comedic romp full of gore and humor, all centered around the delightfully cheesy performance of actor Stewart Gordan. And really, what more could you want?

The Thing (1982)

The Thing 1982 sci-fi horror movie poster featuring a man in an arctic suit with beams of light coming through his head

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a masterpiece of paranoia and gorey practical effects. Based on the novella Who Goes There? by John Campbell Jr, Carpenter’s version is actually the third adaptation of the story and by far the most famous. In an isolated arctic setting, a team of scientists uncover an ancient alien being. Despite their best intentions, the creature is revived and begins to take them out one by one. What makes this plot particularly terrifying is the alien’s ability to mimic other lifeforms.The frenzy of shapeshifting that ensues, from the normal humanoid forms to the outrageously bizarre spectacles, keeps the scientists (and the audience) guessing on who is friend or foe. For the staff at Puzzle Box Horror, this is easily one of our favorite sci-fi horror films.

Scanners (1981)

Scanners horror movie poster from 1981 featuring a man whose head is exploding

Ok we swear this isn’t cheating, but we’re double-dipping in the Carpenter oeuvre. His movie Scanners, essentially about a group of telepathics seeking world domination and the counter-group fighting to subvert them, is what we consider essential viewing when it comes to the sci-fi horror genre. Yes it has the infamous head-exploding scene, and yes it’s as entertaining and memorable as you’d assume from a Carpenter film. But it also features some fine character acting and touches on some intriguing sociopolitical themes. Overall it’s a satisfying blend of cerebral commentary and visceral chaos. 

Alien (1979)

Alien 1979 horror movie poster featuring an alien egg

It’s impossible to talk about sci-fi horror without the angular, toothy distorted image of a xenomorph coming to mind. The whole alien franchise is fantastic (yes, even that one), but we have to give credit to the one that started it all. Ridley Scott’s Alien is dark, tense, and claustrophobic; a slow-burn of mounting dread and unseen foes until about the halfway mark when it explodes (literally) with stomach-churning horror. Featuring the unforgettable designs by H.R. Giger and inspiring decades of filmmakers after it, Alien stands as a shining example of the “horror in space” genre.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978 movie poster featuring aliens and a person in a cocoon

It’s not often that a remake is better than the original, but the 70’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is arguably superior to its predecessor. The enthralling performances of the leads, the creepy practical effects, the unnerving musical score, and the harrowing ending all work in perfect unison to make this a shockingly scary film. The cold war paranoia of the first movie has also been updated to showcase more relevant social metaphors, such as the loss of self and breakdown of community. Body possession movies have always been terrifying, and this one, about an alien plant that consumes its sleeping host and assumes their form, is a must-watch entry in the sci-fi horror genre.

Honorable Mentions

Possessor (2020)

The Invisible Man (2020)

Life (2017)

Ex Machina (2014)

Europa Report (2013)

Sunshine (2007)

Slither (2006)

28 Days Later (2002)

Donnie Darko (2001)

The Faculty (1998)

Demon Seed (1997)

Mimic (1997)

Cube (1997)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Aliens (1986)

From Beyond (1986)

Altered States (1980)

The Fury (1978)

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Best Of Best of Comics Comics and Graphic Novels Featured Horror Books

Puzzle Box Horror’s Best Sci-Fi Horror Comics

Comic books in the science fiction and horror genres have long sat adjacent to one another, but occasionally they cross paths and the results are spectacularly frightening. The best sci-fi horror comics have stories full of suspense and heavy with dread, as well as artwork that shocks and unnerves. In fact, comics and graphic novels are a great medium for the horror genre. The narrative format often keeps the dialogue and description to a minimum, increasing the suspense and allowing the images to speak for themselves. And, likewise, the artwork expertly compliments the prose, whether it’s using muted shades and darkened corridors to augment the mood or vivid colors and heaps of blood to highlight the horror. The writers at Puzzle Box Horror are obsessed with comics, and we’re very excited to share some of the best sci-fi horror comics on the market!

The Best Sci-Fi Horror Comics

Plunge (2020)

Plunge sci-fi horror comic cover

First on our list of best sci-fi horror comics is Plunge. A drilling vessel, the Derleth, that disappeared forty years ago in the Arctic Circle suddenly begins sending out distress signals from the Bering Strait. Wanting to investigate further, an oil company hires a salvage team and a marine biologist to go explore the ghost ship. Their mission is to recover the bodies and find out exactly what happened to the ship. The expedition quickly goes awry when they discover the crew isn’t exactly dead, though they aren’t exactly alive either. This six-issue miniseries is gory, surreal, and a wonderful homage to eighties horror.

Plunge (Image Comics) is written by Joe Hill with art by Stuart Immonen.

Come Into Me (2019)

Come into me horror comic cover

The story opens on a failed demonstration of InBeing, the process by which ropy entrails connect two different people by ports in the back of their heads and allows their minds to form a “synaptic connection”. Sebastian, the creator and scientist behind the technology, is quickly running out of money and desperate to find an investor. Enter Becky, a mysterious and seemingly desperate young lady who convinces Sebastian to bond their minds with InBeing, using his body as host. It’s strange for Becky, seeing the world through someone else’s body and forming a telepathic-like connection with another. If only she had been upfront with Sebastian about her past. As their minds are conjoined and their memories/experiences blend together, the host realizes he failed to anticipate just exactly what could go wrong…and that, like in our online lives, shared data is open to manipulation and exploitation.

Come Into Me (Black Mask Comics) is written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, illustrated by Piotr Kowalski, and colored by Niko Guardia.

Destroyer (2018)

Destroyer horror comic cover

Though lighter on the horror than the other entries in this list, Destroyer is still an intriguing take on the creature at the center of Mary Shelley’s classic sci-fi story Frankenstein. In this story the monster has survived into present day America, but he has lost his emotional side and empathic nature. Instead he has become the Destroyer, bent on wiping mankind from the face of the earth. In his quest for vengeance he ends up partnering with Dr. Baker, the last descendent of the Frankenstein family who has recently lost her son at the hands of the police. Also caught up in all of this are two scientists, Byron and Percy, who find themselves desperately trying to protect humanity. It’s a story that is raw, powerful, and not afraid to shine a light on heavy socio-political topics. Sometimes the line between thriller and horror is slim but this one still made our list of best sci-fi horror comics as it fits the bill.

Destroyer (Boom Studios) is written by Victor Lavalle and illustrated by Dietrich Smith, with colors by Joana Lafuente and letters by Jim Campbell.

Nameless (2016)

Nameless horror comic cover

A group of billionaires have hired occult hustler “Nameless” in a desperate bid to save the planet. An enormous asteroid they’re calling Xibalba is hurtling on a direct course for earth, bearing a strange symbol on its side and a vengeful extra-dimensional god in its core. While trying to stop the death rock, Nameless and his team accidentally set loose the wrathful being and things go from bad to inconceivably worse. That’s the brief synopsis, but this six-part miniseries deals with so much more. Secret experiments, the downfall of civilization, lost planets, epic cosmic wars, a doomsday asteroid, and soul-destroying truths are all par for the course here. This sci-fi horror comic also has a strong cosmic horror vein running through it, featuring terrifying Lovecraftian beings and an overwhelming atmosphere of dread. What could be better in sci-fi horror than a touch of existential dread?

Nameless (Image Comics) is written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Chris Burnham.

The Disciples (2016)

The Disciples horror comic cover

This sci-fi horror comic is Set in a bleak dystopian future where the solar system has been colonized by the rich upper class, The Disciples is about a girl who has gone missing and the bounty hunters who have been hired to find her. These hunters follow the trail to Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede, where they discover a group of cultists who have awakened a horrifying force. Turns out the girl is the daughter of a Senator who has joined the cult, and things are about to get a whole lot worse for these well-intentioned investigators. Taunt and terrifying, the comic is reminiscent of the video game Dead Space but with more extraterrestrial ghosts. 

The Disciples (Black Mask Studios) is written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Chris Mitten, with colors by Jay Fotos and letters by Thomas Mauer.

Spread (2015)

Spread horror comic cover

In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror comic, a strange viral infection called “the Spread” has devastated the land and devoured its inhabitants. While most of the world lies in ruin, there are pockets of humanity struggling to survive in quarantine zones. In one of these zones a man named No happens upon a baby named Hope who can undo the virus with a touch of her hand. Insane creature designs and an interesting cast of characters help flesh out this dark and suspenseful tale of survival. The unholy baby of The Thing and Mad Max bathed in buckets of blood, Spread is full of extreme gore, tentacles, and body horror fun.

Spread (Image Comics) is written by Justin Jordan with art by Kyle Strahm.

Caliban (2015)

Caliban horror comic cover

In the future hyperspace travel has been invented, allowing humans to explore the furthest reaches of outer space. For all their searching no signs of life have been uncovered, but they have begun to harvest all the valuable resources the universe has to offer. At first it’s just a regular mission out in deep space for the crew of the mining ship Caliban. Everything is going according to plan, until they happen upon a strange alien ship. It would appear the unusual vessel was waiting for them, and what was once a routine trip quickly turns to nightmare. A vicious, hulking something is stalking the corridors, separating the crew and taking them one by one. It’s a tense and chilling thriller reminiscent of Alien, full of shocking moments and terrific artwork.

Caliban (Avatar Press) is written by Garth Ennis with art by Facundo Percio.

The Wake (2014)

The Wake horror comic cover

The Department of Homeland Security has identified an unnerving new threat, and so they reach out to Lee Archer, a marine biologist, for help. Though she initially declines, the government overrides her decision and sends her deep beneath the sea in the Arctic Circle. There’s an underwater oil rig in that part of the ocean where a group of scientists have made an unbelievable discovery. Part multi-generational thriller and part creature feature, The Wake is a ten-issue miniseries that manages to combine tense horror, beautifully bold artwork, and scientific questions on life and the human condition.

The Wake (DC Comics) is written by Scott Snyder with art by Sean Murphy.

Revival (2012)

Revival aci-fi horror comic cover

The dead have come back to life in rural Wisconsin. In the particular town where our story is set, the CDC has quarantined the area and sent in experts to help out. Revival, labeled as “farm noir,” is interesting because of its unique take on the genre. Yes, it’s a zombie tale full of scares, violence, religious zealots, and government busybodies. But a lot of the series also focuses on a brutal murder and the detective who is trying to solve the crime. Officer Dana Cypress has her hands full dealing with the media, the government, and a full-scale zombie invasion while also investigating a case where anyone, dead or alive, could be a suspect.

Revival is a staff favorite for best sci fi horror comics.

Revival (Image Comics) is written by Tim Seeley, illustrated by Mike Norton, and colored by Mark Englert.

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Best Of Best of Comics Comics and Graphic Novels Featured Horror Books Reviews

Rogue Planet Sci-Fi Horror Comic Review

In his seminal novel Dune, author Frank Herbert writes, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer”. This idea, that fear steals and kills who we are, is taken to a terrifying new level in the space horror comic Rogue Planet (2020) where the fears of our main characters literally come to life and hunt them down in a strange alien landscape. Though the story shackles itself within its sci-fi horror conventions, if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise or H.P. Lovecraft then you will probably still have a good time with this one. 

Rogue planet horror comic cover
Rogue Planet Horror Comic Book Cover

In a faraway galaxy there is a “rogue” planet (i.e. one not bound to any planetary system or star) where aliens worship a grotesque and horrifying elder god. The comic wastes no time introducing us to some of its main elements, namely the towering fleshy monument of the god and the lengths the inhabitants will go through to appease its bloodlust. We see an alien father sacrifice his own son in front of the multi-eyed obelisk, which really helps set the dark and dangerous tone that runs throughout the story.

After this jarring opening we cut to the salvage ship Cortes, where the crew is just beginning to wake from hyper-sleep. They’ve found a distress signal and followed it to the unknown world, hoping to loot whatever treasures they may find. However, upon discovering a massive ship graveyard they begin to feel something is amiss. This uneasy feeling quickly turns to outright terror as they are attacked by a massive tentacled monster, and they spend the rest of the comic fighting for their lives against numerous bizarre and deadly enemies.

alien art from Rogue Planet horror comic
The god of Rogue Planet demands sacrifice

No spoilers here, but the Rogue Planet comic makes it clear pretty early on that none of the crew are safe from the planetary nightmares they face. While this ramps up the stakes and tension, it would have been even more effective if we cared more for our main characters. We do get scenes of expository banter that lend layers to their personas, but for the most part they remain static archetypes typical of the sci-fi horror genre. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it adds to the feeling of “been there, done that” that permeates the story. 

For a story about a ship following a distress signal to a hostile world, it plays out about like one would expect. The humans are placed in increasingly dangerous scenarios as the mysteries of the planet are slowly revealed. The aliens are all fairly nondescript, resembling a primitive tribe that has been intruded upon by foreigners. Following its cosmic horror roots the plot also dips into a baffling spirituality and mythos in its final act. True to the genre I was left wondering what I’d just read, but unfortunately it didn’t have the unnerving impact that the best in cosmic horror carries.

Where Rogue Planet really shines is in its unsettling imagery, abundant violence, and eye-catching artwork. The chaotic evil force is presented in various ways: there’s a gargantuan, veiny, many-mouthed worm (reminiscent of Junji Ito’s manga Remina), a host of hollowed out astronauts with streaming tentacles where their heads should be, and even a larger, bonier version of the facehugger from Alien. All iterations are unnerving, and all represent new levels of dread and mayhem for our misfortuned crew. These creatures are particularly creepy thanks to the bold illustrations from Andy Macdonald and the shimmering colors from Nick Filardi.

alien spacemen art from Rogue Planet horror comic
The horrors of Rogue Planet

In terms of sci-fi horror, Rogue Planet doesn’t break any new ground. But the comic also manages to elevate above being a completely awful rip-off. There’s enough here – between the intriguing concepts and provocative artwork – to keep readers engaged in the story, even when they’re confused or find themselves feeling déjà vu. Though previous entries in the genre have tackled the same concepts with better results, the creepy images and stellar coloring make this one still worth a read. Just lower your expectations and you’ll have fun with it.

Rogue Planet is available now from Oni Press.