Total Nerd The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies  

Ranker Film
15.2k votes 1.1k voters 14.5k 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
405 74
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 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

2
549 127
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
431 94
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
455 110
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
415 115
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
339 90
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
150 22
Alien is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
381 113
Them! is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
276 87
The Blob is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
255 84
Forbidden Planet is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
136 29
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
91 13
The Time Machine is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
242 83
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
119 27
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
226 84
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
117 29
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
99 24
On the Beach is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
91 23
Close Encounters of the Third ... is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
96 27
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
187 89
The Incredible Shrinking Man is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
80 24
Soylent Green is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

22
78 24
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

23
84 29
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
58 13
Planet of the Apes is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
62 16
Journey to the Center of the E... is listed (or ranked) 25 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 ...more

26
71 24
Logan's Run is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

27
67 22
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 27 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

28
64 20
The Andromeda Strain is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

29
68 24
Village of the Damned is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

30
65 22
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
144 79
The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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

32
167 96
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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

33
64 23
The Fifth Element is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

34
138 77
When Worlds Collide is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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

35
141 82
This Island Earth is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
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

36
62 24
Tron is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

37
60 24
20 Million Miles to Earth is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

38
57 22
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

39
53 20
Things to Come is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

40
46 15
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

41
56 23
The Day the Earth Caught Fire is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

42
54 22
I Married a Monster from Outer... is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

43
44 16
Stargate is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

44
59 29
Mars Attacks! is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

45
134 90
A Trip to the Moon is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Georges Méliès, Jehanne d'Alcy, Bleuette Bernon A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and ...more

46
50 22
Tarantula is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

47
50 22
Arrival is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

48
46 19
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
lanie-sullivan added Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Blythe Danner The X-Files is a 1998 American science fiction film written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Rob Bowman. It is the first feature film based on The X-Files series created by ...more

49
47 20
Colossus: The Forbin Project is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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

50
53 25
Target Earth is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added 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