Total Nerd The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies  

Ranker Film
4.5k votes 633 voters 6.9k views 140 items Embed

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
352 82
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 1 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

2
317 68
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
243 41
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
269 67
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
210 54
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
235 82
The Thing from Another World is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
217 76
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

8
150 61
Forbidden Planet is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
138 53
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
120 52
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

11
111 52
The Blob is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
87 53
The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 12 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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13
93 73
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
68 67
The Incredible Shrinking Man is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
60 58
When Worlds Collide is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
18 15
Godzilla, King of the Monsters... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Don Brand added Godzilla, King of the Monsters! Raymond Burr, Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is a 1956 Japanese American science fiction kaiju film co-directed by Terry O. Morse and Ishirō Honda. The film is a heavily re-edited American adaptation, ...more

17
55 65
This Island Earth is listed (or ranked) 17 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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3 0
The Time Machine is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
3 0
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Back to the Future is a 1985 American comic science fiction film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, ...more

20
3 0
The Iron Giant is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Iron Giant Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, Cloris Leachman The Iron Giant is a 1999 American animated science fiction comedy-drama film using both traditional animation and computer animation, produced by Warner Bros. Animation, and based on the 1968 ...more

21
2 0
Interstellar is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Interstellar Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon Interstellar is a British-American 2014 science fiction epic film directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. The film ...more

22
2 0
Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Minority Report Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more

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2 0
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
2 0
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, ...more

25
2 0
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Day the Earth Stood Still Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves, Jon Hamm The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 2008 American science fiction film, a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. The screenplay is based on the 1940 classic science fiction short story ...more

26
2 0
Inception is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Inception Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard Inception is a 2010 science fiction heist thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, ...more

27
2 0
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction adventure film directed by Gary Ross, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of ...more

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2 0
Edge of Tomorrow is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton Edge of Tomorrow is a 2014 American military science fiction thriller film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Doug Liman directed the film based on a screenplay adapted from the 2004 Japanese ...more

29
2 0
Oblivion is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Oblivion Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko Oblivion is a 2012 action and science fiction film written by Joseph Kosinski and William Monahan and directed by Joseph Kosinski.

30
2 0
Arrival is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Arrival Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. It stars Amy ...more

31
2 0
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
2 0
The Man in the White Suit is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Man in the White Suit Alec Guinness, Michael Gough, Cecil Parker The Man In The White Suit is a 1951 science-fiction satirical comedy film made by Ealing Studios. It starred Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood and Cecil Parker and was directed by Alexander ...more

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2 0
WALL-E is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added WALL-E Sigourney Weaver, Laraine Newman, Kathy Najimy WALL-E is a 2008 American computer-animated science-fiction comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Andrew Stanton, the story follows a ...more

34
2 1
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
1 0
The Shape of Water is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Shape of Water Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins The Shape of Water is a 2017 American fantasy romance film directed by Guillermo del Toro. Lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation until she discovers a secret ...more

36
1 0
Lucy is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Lucy Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Analeigh Tipton Lucy is a 2014 English-language French science fiction action film written and directed by Luc Besson and produced by his wife Virginie Silla for his company Europacorp. The film was shot in ...more

37
1 0
Chappie is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Chappie Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley Chappie is a 2015 American science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp. The screenplay, written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, is based on Blomkamp's 2004 short film Tetra Vaal. The film ...more

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38
1 0
Ex Machina is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Ex Machina Ex Machina is a 2015 independent science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Alex Garland. A young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to participate in a ground-breaking ...more

39
1 0
The Lawnmower Man is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Lawnmower Man Pierce Brosnan, Dean Norris, Geoffrey Lewis The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 American science fiction action horror film directed by Brett Leonard and written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett. The film is named after a Stephen King short ...more

40
1 0
The Fifth Element is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
1 0
The Invasion is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Invasion Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Malin Åkerman The Invasion is a 2007 science fiction thriller film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, with additional scenes written by The Wachowskis and directed by ...more

42
1 0
The Andromeda Strain is listed (or ranked) 42 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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43
1 0
The Day the Earth Caught Fire is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
1 0
Mission to Mars is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Mission to Mars Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Gary Sinise Mission to Mars is a 2000 science fiction film directed by Brian De Palma from an original screenplay written by Jim Thomas, John Thomas, and Graham Yost. In 2020, a manned Mars exploration ...more

45
1 0
The Hidden is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Hidden Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Lin Shaye The Hidden is an American science fiction action film produced and released in 1987 by New Line Cinema. The film was written by Bob Hunt and directed by Jack Sholder. The cast featured Kyle ...more

46
1 0
The Brother from Another Plane... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Brother from Another Planet David Strathairn, Joe Morton, John Sayles The Brother from Another Planet is a 1984 science fiction film written, directed and edited by John Sayles. It stars Joe Morton as "The Brother", an alien and escaped slave who, while ...more

47
1 0
The Final Countdown is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Final Countdown Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross The Final Countdown is a 1980 alternate history science fiction film about a modern aircraft carrier that travels through time to a day before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Produced by Peter ...more

48
1 0
Transcendence is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Transcendence Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara Transcendence is a 2014 science fiction film directed by cinematographer Wally Pfister in his directorial debut, and written by Jack Paglen. The English-language co-production stars Johnny Depp, ...more

49
1 0
The Butterfly Effect is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Butterfly Effect Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American psychological thriller film that was written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart. The title refers to ...more

50
1 0
The Deadly Mantis is listed (or ranked) 50 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