Total Nerd The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies  

Ranker Film
12.3k votes 1k voters 12k views 142 items

List Rules Vote up the best science fiction movies that were released before 1960.

Terrifying monsters and unwelcome space invaders frightened movie-goers in classic sci-fi movies. The best old sci fi movies are often based on famous novels, although some original stories dreamt up by modern masters thrilled on the big screen as well. This is a list of the top early sci fi movies including everything from King Kong to The Day the Earth Stood Still to Metropolis.

What films will you find on this list of the best classic science fiction films? In 1931, Boris Karloff took the title role in Frankenstein, a film based on Mary Shelley's novel of the same name. The movie went on to be included in the National Film Registry for its significance. Creature From the Black Lagoon is another scary sci fi film released before 1960. It's hard to discuss classic sci fi without mentioning Ed Wood's low-budget masterpiece, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Other top movies featured on this list include Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing from Another World, and The Blob.

It's up to you to decide with silver screen favorite deserves the top spot on the list. Give your picks a thumbs up to move them towards number one, and add any cult classics that are missing.

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H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds Gene Barry, Ann Robinson The War of the Worlds is a 1953 American Technicolor science fiction film from Paramount Pictures, produced by George Pal, directed by Byron Haskin, and starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. The ...more

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Invasion of the Body Snatchers Dana Wynter, Sam Peckinpah, Carolyn Jones Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction film produced by Walter Wanger, directed by Don Siegel, and starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The film ...more

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Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Frankenstein Boris Karloff, John Boles, Colin Clive Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by ...more

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The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
The Day the Earth Stood Still Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie, Frances Bavier The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Julian Blaustein, directed by Robert Wise, and starring Michael Rennie, ...more

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The Thing from Another World is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
The Thing from Another World James Arness, Paul Frees, George Fenneman The Thing from Another World is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction/horror film produced by Howard Hawks' Winchester Pictures Corporation, released by RKO Pictures, and directed by ...more

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King Kong is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
King Kong Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was from an ...more

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Them! is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Them! Leonard Nimoy, James Arness, Fess Parker Them! is a 1954 American black-and-white science fiction film from Warner Bros. Pictures produced by David Weisbart, directed by Gordon Douglas, and starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan ...more

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Alien is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Alien Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm Alien is a 1979 science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. ...more

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The Blob is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
The Blob Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Lee Payton The Blob is an independently made 1958 American horror/science fiction film directed by Irvin Yeaworth. In the style of American International Pictures, Paramount Pictures released the film as a ...more

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Creature from the Black Lagoon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Creature from the Black Lagoon Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Julie Adams Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 monster horror 3-D film in black-and-white, directed by Jack Arnold and starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno and Whit ...more

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Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more

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Forbidden Planet is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Forbidden Planet Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon Forbidden Planet is a 1956 American science fiction film from MGM, produced by Nicholas Nayfack, directed by Fred M. Wilcox and starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren ...more

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The Fly is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
The Fly Vincent Price, David Hedison, Herbert Marshall The Fly is a 1958 American science fiction-horror film produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was written by James Clavell, from the short story of the same name by George ...more

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2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more

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Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Blade Runner Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay, ...more

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The Time Machine is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Time Machine Yvette Mimieux, Rod Taylor, Alan Young The Time Machine – also known promotionally as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine – is a 1960 Metrocolor time travel science fiction film based on the 1895 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells in ...more

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Close Encounters of the Third ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Close Encounters of the Third Kind Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Carl Weathers Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 science fiction film, written and directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, ...more

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On the Beach is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added On the Beach On the Beach is a 1957 post-apocalyptic novel written by British-Australian author Nevil Shute after he emigrated to Australia. The novel details the experiences of a mixed group of people in ...more

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Soylent Green is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Soylent Green Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Dick Van Patten Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, and, in his final film, Edward G. Robinson. The film ...more

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It Came from Outer Space is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added It Came from Outer Space Russell Johnson, Richard Carlson, Dave Willock It Came from Outer Space is a 1953 American black-and-white science fiction film, the first in the 3-D process from Universal-International. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack ...more

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Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Earth vs. the Flying Saucers Paul Frees, Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is a 1956 American science fiction film from Columbia Pictures, produced by Charles H. Schneer and Sam Katzman, directed by Fred F. Sears, and starring Hugh Marlowe ...more

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The Andromeda Strain is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Andromeda Strain Paula Kelly, David Wayne, Arthur Hill The Andromeda Strain is a 1971 American science fiction film produced and directed by Robert Wise. Based on Michael Crichton's 1969 novel of the same name and adapted by Nelson Gidding, the film ...more

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The Incredible Shrinking Man is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
The Incredible Shrinking Man William Schallert, Paul Langton, Billy Curtis The Incredible Shrinking Man is a 1957 science fiction film directed by Jack Arnold and adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson from his novel The Shrinking Man. The film stars Grant Williams ...more

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The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Matrix Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe ...more

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The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
The Invisible Man Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, Una O'Connor The Invisible Man is a 1933 science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The Invisible Man, published in 1897, as adapted by R. C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges, ...more

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Logan's Run is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Logan's Run Farrah Fawcett, Peter Ustinov, Jenny Agutter Logan's Run is a 1976 American science fiction film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov. ...more

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Journey to the Center of the E... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Journey to the Center of the Earth Pat Boone, Bernard Herrmann, Arlene Dahl Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 1959 adventure film adapted by Charles Brackett from the novel of the same name by Jules Verne. Journey to the Center of the Earth was directed by Henry ...more

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Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. It is based on the 1990 novel of the ...more

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Village of the Damned is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Village of the Damned George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Michael Gwynn Village of the Damned is a 1960 British science fiction film by German director Wolf Rilla. The film is adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. The lead role of Professor ...more

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Aliens is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Aliens Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

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20 Million Miles to Earth is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 20 Million Miles to Earth Ray Harryhausen, William Hopper, Joan Taylor 20 Million Miles to Earth is a 1957 American science fiction giant monster film written by Bob Williams and Christopher Knopf from an original treatment by Charlott Knight. The film was produced ...more

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When Worlds Collide is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
When Worlds Collide Paul Frees, Stuart Whitman, John Hoyt When Worlds Collide is a 1951 American Technicolor science fiction film from Paramount Pictures, produced by George Pal, directed by Rudolph Maté and starring Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, ...more

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Tron is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Tron Jeff Bridges, David Warner, Michael Dudikoff Tron is a 1982 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Lisberger, based on a story by Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird, and produced by Walt Disney Productions. The film stars ...more

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Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Metropolis Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Theodor Loos Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav ...more

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The Day the Earth Caught Fire is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Day the Earth Caught Fire Michael Caine, Leo McKern, Janet Munro The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a British science fiction disaster film starring Edward Judd, Leo McKern and Janet Munro. It was directed by Val Guest and released in 1961, and is one of the ...more

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The Fifth Element is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Fifth Element Milla Jovovich, Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman The Fifth Element is a 1997 English-language French science fiction action film directed and co-written by Luc Besson. It stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich. Mostly set in the ...more

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12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 12 Monkeys Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Christopher Plummer 12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce ...more

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Things to Come is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Things to Come George Sanders, Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson Things to Come is a British science fiction film produced by Alexander Korda and directed by William Cameron Menzies. The film stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl ...more

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I Married a Monster from Outer... is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added I Married a Monster from Outer Space Maxie Rosenbloom, Bess Flowers, Tom Tryon I Married a Monster from Outer Space is a 1958 American black-and-white science fiction film from Paramount Pictures, produced and directed by Gene Fowler Jr. and starring Tom Tryon and Gloria ...more

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Planet of the Apes is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Planet of the Apes Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison, James Whitmore Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring Charlton Heston. Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, and James ...more

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This Island Earth is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
This Island Earth Russell Johnson, Faith Domergue, Coleman Francis This Island Earth is a 1955 American science fiction film directed by Joseph M. Newman. It is based on the novel of the same name by Raymond F. Jones which was originally published in the ...more

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Target Earth is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Target Earth Richard Denning, Virginia Grey, Whit Bissell Target Earth is an independently made 1954 science fiction film produced by Herman Cohen, directed by Sherman A. Rose, starring Richard Denning, Kathleen Crowley, Virginia Grey, and Whit ...more

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War of the Colossal Beast is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added War of the Colossal Beast Frank Jenks, Sally Fraser, Dean Parkin War of the Colossal Beast is a 1958 black-and-white science fiction film, directed by Bert I. Gordon, produced by Carmel Productions and distributed by American International Pictures. It ...more

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The Mole People is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Mole People Alan Napier, John Agar, Nestor Paiva The Mole People is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Virgil W. Vogel.

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Invaders from Mars is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Invaders from Mars Milburn Stone, Hillary Brooke, Leif Erickson Invaders from Mars is a 1953 American science fiction film independently produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr., directed by William Cameron Menzies, and developed from a scenario by Richard Blake ...more

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The Deadly Mantis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Deadly Mantis Craig Stevens, William Hopper, Pat Conway The Deadly Mantis is a 1957 science fiction film produced by William Alland for Universal-International. It was directed by Nathan Juran from a screenplay by Martin Berkeley, and starred Craig ...more

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Colossus: The Forbin Project is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Colossus: The Forbin Project Marion Ross, Eric Braeden, William Schallert Colossus: The Forbin Project is a 1970 American science fiction thriller film from Universal Pictures, produced by Stanley Chase, directed by Joseph Sargent, and starring Eric Braeden, Susan ...more

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Mars Attacks! is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Mars Attacks! Natalie Portman, Jack Nicholson, Sarah Jessica Parker Mars Attacks! is a 1996 American comic science fiction film directed by Tim Burton and written by Jonathan Gems. Based on the cult trading card series of the same name, the film features an ...more

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It! The Terror from Beyond Spa... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added It! The Terror from Beyond Space Ray "Crash" Corrigan, Dabbs Greer, Richard Benedict It! The Terror from Beyond Space is an independently made 1958 American black and white science fiction film produced by Robert Kent, directed by Edward L. Cahn, and starring Marshall Thompson, ...more

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Tarantula is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Tarantula Clint Eastwood, Mara Corday, Alan Napier Tarantula is a 1955 American science fiction film from Universal-International, produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold, and starring John Agar, Mara Corday and Leo G. Carroll. The ...more