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Underrated Sci-Fi Horror Movies Where Scientists Go Too Far

September 20, 2021 3.4k votes 586 voters 60.3k views14 items

List RulesVote up the sci-fi horror movies that make science scary.

Yes, everyone loves Jurassic Park and Planet of the Apes - but what about the underrated "science experiment gone wrong" movies? The lesser-known films where humanity's reach exceeds its grasp? The parables about the dangers of science unchecked?

These are B-movie classics like 1958's The Fly and 1985's Re-Animator. These are undervalued modern flicks like 2009's Splice, 2019's Little Joe, and 2020's Possessor. And, yes, these are the sci-fi/horror films based on the work of literary icons like H. G. Wells (The Island of Doctor Moreau) and Stephen King (Firestarter). Thank goodness real-life science is nothing like the movies.

  • Photo: Gaumont

    If you're planning on making a human-animal hybrid being, maybe don't. It just seems like a bad idea right from the get-go. For whatever reason, Adrien Brody's Clive Nicoli and Sarah Polley's Elsa Kast - the protagonists of 2009's Splice - think this is a brilliant idea.

    Even though their employers basically prohibit the pair of scientists from creating said hybrid, they do so anyway. And Elsa, in her infinite wisdom, even uses her own DNA during the experiment, essentially making the hybrid her own offspring. The hybrid (eventually named Dren) turns out to be a murderous creature that changes genders and ends up impregnating its genetic mother before being taken out by a rock to the head. Needless to say, Splice is anything but a happy movie.

    Scary experiment?

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  • Mimic (1997) may not be the best-reviewed sci-fi picture ever released, but it's better than its reputation would have you believe (and it's directed by Guillermo del Toro). Besides, with a cast that includes Mira Sorvino, Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham, and Norman Reedus, you could do far worse on a Sunday afternoon than pop this on your preferred streaming service.

    With cockroaches spreading a deadly disease to various Manhattan children, Sorvino's Dr. Susan Tyler is brought in to create a mantis-termite hybrid that releases an enzyme that causes the roaches to burn calories faster than they can eat. This eradicates the roaches and stops the spread of the virus. However, only a few years later, this hybrid has gone through an untold number of generations so rapidly that it has mutated the ability to mimic humanity.

    It's up to Susan and her allies to end the hybrid for good. From there, the film is pretty boilerplate, but it certainly is good fun.

    Scary experiment?

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  • Seeing as 1986's The Fly is the biggest box-office hit of David Cronenberg's long career and was a critical success at the time, we have to turn our eyes back to the 1958 original of the same name. Yes, it's a B movie from the 1950s. Yes, it's severely outdated by any modern standard. Yes, David Hedison looks hilarious with a shoddy fly prosthetic on his head. But there's just something about The Fly that defies all of that.

    Somehow, it has stood the test of time and is seen as a classic of the genre, with modern critics heaping praise on it left and right. It helps that the legendary Vincent Price is there doing his thing, but it's difficult to put your finger on why The Fly works - it just does.

    Scary experiment?

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  • So, Deep Blue Sea is a bad movie; however, Deep Blue Sea is a great bad movie. It's one of those films you can't help but enjoy. It's about a team of scientists who use sharks for Alzheimer's disease research, only to have the genetically engineered sharks (why?) go on a murderous rampage (again, why?).

    It's got a famous Samuel L. Jackson speech that ends with him getting swallowed whole by a shark. LL Cool J plays a cook named Preacher who has a parrot for some reason. It's dumb. It's hokey. It's amazing. Seriously, if you don't have some kind of fun watching the trainwreck that is Deep Blue Sea, you're taking yourself far too seriously.

    Scary experiment?

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