Total Nerd The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies  

Ranker Film
23.4k votes 1.5k voters 26.7k views 170 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.

list ordered by
1
534 105
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Gene Barry, Ann Robinson
This film 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 film is a ...more
2
542 119
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
3
659 161
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
4
542 136
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
5
510 142
The Thing from Another World is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
6
251 44
Alien is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
7
483 135
Them! is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
8
405 110
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
9
354 102
Forbidden Planet is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
10
374 113
The Blob is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
11
177 29
The Time Machine is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
12
212 50
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
13
319 106
Creature from the Black Lagoon is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
14
225 61
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
15
206 61
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
16
293 114
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
17
168 50
Close Encounters of the Third ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
18
139 38
Planet of the Apes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
19
157 49
It Came from Outer Space is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
20
157 50
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
21
123 32
Journey to the Center of the E... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
22
158 54
On the Beach is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added
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
23
141 48
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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
24
252 118
The Incredible Shrinking Man is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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
25
133 44
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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