Total Nerd The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies  

Ranker Film
6.2k votes 733 voters 8.1k 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.

list ordered by

1
403 93
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
265 43
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
334 71
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
322 74
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
226 61
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
276 88
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
258 81
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
170 63
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
149 56
Creature from the Black Lagoon is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
150 57
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
143 57
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
29 2
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 12 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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13
28 2
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
103 60
The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
22 2
The Time Machine is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
113 80
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
18 2
Predator is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Predator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill ...more

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24 5
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
22 4
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
20 4
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
20 4
Alien is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
17 5
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 22 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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16 4
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a 1991 American science fiction action thriller film written, produced and directed by James Cameron. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert ...more

24
14 3
Close Encounters of the Third ... is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
29 20
Godzilla, King of the Monsters... is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
67 63
When Worlds Collide is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
77 75
The Incredible Shrinking Man is listed (or ranked) 27 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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13 3
WALL-E is listed (or ranked) 28 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

29
13 3
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 29 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

30
12 3
Stargate is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Stargate Kurt Russell, James Spader, Djimon Hounsou Stargate is a 1994 French-American adventure science fiction film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Carolco Pictures. Created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first ...more

31
12 5
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
12 5
Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg Men in Black is a 1997 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. ...more

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33
10 3
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Total Recall Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, and Sharon Stone. The film is loosely based on the Philip ...more

34
13 7
Independence Day is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Independence Day Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox Independence Day is a 1996 American science fiction disaster film co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich. The film stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, ...more

35
11 5
Mars Attacks! is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
10 4
Dune is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Dune Sting, Patrick Stewart, Alicia Witt Dune is a 1984 American science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides and ...more

37
9 3
Tron is listed (or ranked) 37 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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38
11 6
Soylent Green is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
11 6
Avatar is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Avatar Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez Avatar is a 2009 American epic science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni ...more

40
10 5
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
10 5
Logan's Run is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
9 4
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Westworld Yul Brynner, James Brolin, Dick Van Patten Westworld is a 1973 science fiction western-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III about amusement park robots that become evil after a ...more

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12 8
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
7 2
The Philadelphia Experiment is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Philadelphia Experiment Nancy Allen, Stephen Tobolowsky, Michael Paré The Philadelphia Experiment is a 1984 science fiction film. It is directed by Stewart Raffill and stars Michael Paré, Bobby Di Cicco, and Nancy Allen and based on the urban legend of the ...more

45
9 5
Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Starship Troopers Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, Amy Smart Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier, originally from an unrelated script called Bug Hunt at ...more

46
8 4
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
7 3
The Abyss is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added The Abyss Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Chris Elliott The Abyss is a 1989 American science fiction-adventure film written and directed by James Cameron, starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn. When an American submarine ...more

48
7 3
Journey to the Center of the E... is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
9 6
Edge of Tomorrow is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
8 5
The Iron Giant is listed (or ranked) 50 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