"In space, no one can hear you scream." This infamous tagline kicked off the marketing campaign for Alien, arguably the best of all horror movies set in space. Alien's success generated a slew of imitators, some of which got imitators of their own. Despite this trend, Alien didn't invent horror films set in space. That flick was already pulling from a deep well of other movies about astronauts encountering terrible things in the dark void of space.
After all, space is the most inhospitable desert imaginable - a vast and trackless expanse of nothingness that takes years to traverse and in which humans can't survive for more than a few seconds without protection. That alone is pretty scary - throw in a monster or two, and you've got a recipe for big-screen chills. If you've already seen classics like Alien and older mainstays like Forbidden Planet, here are a few other horror movies set in space that will sate your hunger for cosmic terror.
The original Alien is often referred to as "a haunted house movie in space." In reality, though, it's more of a space-slasher flick. Event Horizon, on the other hand, is more akin to The Amityville Horror on a spaceship.
The eponymous Event Horizon is a ship whose experimental engine allows it to travel by creating a black hole, essentially teleporting the ship from one point in space to another. On its maiden voyage, however, the ship vanished for seven years. Now, it has reappeared in a decaying orbit around Neptune, and the ship's designer (Sam Neill) has been sent with a crew captained by Laurence Fishburne to investigate.
They discover that the ship didn't simply travel through space - it traveled to a place that just might be hell, and it has come back changed and hungry for new targets. With a cast of familiar faces and some incredible production design, this early film by director Paul W.S. Anderson (before he embarked on the Resident Evil franchise) is great for those who want a little Hellraiser paired with their Alien.
In Pandorum, a settler ship is sent with the last remnants of humanity to colonize a habitable world 123 lightyears from Earth. However, things go awry along the way, and when two astronauts awaken on board the ship with amnesia, they must investigate. The film is often compared to Event Horizon, especially aesthetically, thanks in part to the presence of Paul W.S. Anderson as producer.
While the plot may ramble from time to time, there's plenty of suspense to be had as the astronauts find other survivors and face off against terrifying humanoid creatures - reminiscent of the Reavers from Firefly - in the bowels of the massive ship.
A year before the first Fast and Furious movie hit theaters, Vin Diesel played his breakout role of the space-bound lawbreaker Riddick in Pitch Black. Leaving a group of disparate survivors stranded on a world where the sun never sets, Pitch Black essentially asks the question: What if a slasher flick's would-be villain was the hero instead?
Diesel's reflective-eyed Riddick became a fan favorite - spawning video games and sequels - but the film's simple setup arguably makes it the best of the bunch. On this planet where night never comes, underground monsters who burn in sunlight wait to strike. Naturally, the ship crash-lands on the planet shortly before a lengthy eclipse that will plunge the world into darkness. Fortunately, Riddick has those "shined" eyes that allow him to see in the dark, allowing the film to pit one "monster" against many.
An all-star cast - including Jake Gyllenhaal, Amanda Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds - headlines this flick about a team of astronauts aboard the International Space Station who discover a tiny Martian life form that abruptly starts growing, eventually escaping containment.
One part Alien, one part Gravity, one part John Carpenter's The Thing, Life is a cocktail of familiar ideas and faces that makes for a riveting time at the movies if you need a space-thriller fix. The alien life form even looks like a gooey starfish combined with the alien symbiote from Venom. This may have been intentional, since director Daniel Espinosa is also directing Sony's Morbius movie, which is based on the Spider-Man supporting character.