Underrated Sci-Fi Horror Movies Where Humans Mess Around With Creatures They Can't Handle

List Rules
Vote up the sci-fi horror creature features that deserve a rewatch.

We all know how it goes in sci-fi horror monster movies, right? Everything is going just fine and then some mad scientist comes along and splices human and alien DNA, transplants an animal brain into a human body, tries to create a race of fish people, or otherwise does something ill-advised, and then all of a sudden, there's a monster on the loose. The monster might be an alien, it might be a mutant, or it might be some kind of biomechanical horror, but whatever it is, it's causing all sorts of trouble, and everything would have been fine if people had just left well enough alone.

Fortunately, while this kind of meddling may be bad for the characters, it makes for good sci-fi/horror monster movies. In fact, some of the best in the business have followed some variation on this formula, from Alien to The Fly and beyond. Here are a few lesser-known (or just less appreciated) sci-fi shockers that also fit the bill. Vote up your favorites!


  • 1
    50 VOTES

    Years before Guillermo del Toro won Academy Awards for best picture and best director, his first English-language film was this sci-fi shocker whose troubled production nearly drove him out of the Hollywood studio system for good. Set in what was then the near future, the film sees scientists in Manhattan developing a special "Judas breed" of cockroaches to wipe out the roaches that are spreading a deadly disease throughout the city, claiming the lives of countless children.

    Unfortunately, the rapidly evolving new Judas insects evolve just a little too rapidly, and before long, they're mimicking (and hunting) much larger prey - human beings.

    • Actors: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Giancarlo Giannini, Charles S. Dutton
    • Released: 1997
    • Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
    50 votes
  • The fourth film in the Alien saga gets a bad rap that it at least partially deserves, but with acclaimed French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet behind the camera and a script co-written by Joss Whedon, it is - if nothing else - an ooey, gooey, and ultimately fascinating oddity. Set 200 years after the events of Alien 3Resurrection finds a group of scientists experimenting on a clone of Ripley constructed using DNA samples collected before her demise.

    Using these samples, they've also cloned some of the eponymous aliens. Both the cloned Ripley and the aliens that have been grown from her DNA are not something they ought to be messing around with, as they find out in the film's gross and freaky denouement.

    • Actors: Winona Ryder, Sigourney Weaver, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif, Gary Dourdan
    • Released: 1997
    • Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
    67 votes
  • 3
    38 VOTES

    Just don't mess with aliens when you find them, no matter how much they look like a nude Mathilda May. That's the lesson movies have taught us time and time again, and yet, people in movies keep doing it. Case in point, Tobe Hooper's (PoltergeistTexas Chain Saw Massacre) 1985 sci-fi horror film Lifeforce, in which the crew of a spacecraft discover a massive 150-mile-long alien ship in the shadow of Halley's Comet and bring back the three nude, humanoid forms they find there.

    Naturally, one of them wakes up and begins to drain the, well, life force from everyone she meets, eventually leading to an apocalyptic confrontation on the streets of London.

    • Actors: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard
    • Released: 1985
    • Directed by: Tobe Hooper
    38 votes

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  • 4
    52 VOTES

    In the original 1958 version of The Blob, starring Steve McQueen, the huge jello mold from outer space is given no specific origin story. It just shows up one day in a meteor and starts absorbing everything in sight. While the 1988 remake, from a screenplay co-written by The Walking Dead's Frank Darabont, starts out the same way, it doesn't take long for the movie to explain where the titular blob came from - and it isn't another planet.

    It turns out that the blob started out as a biological weapon that grew too dangerous, so it was launched into space. Now it's back, though, and it threatens to wipe out a town and, from there, the world.

    • Actors: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch, Ricky Paull Goldin, Billy Beck
    • Released: 1988
    • Directed by: Chuck Russell
    52 votes

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  • 5
    49 VOTES

    Life

    Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds, this 2017 film slipped under a lot of people's radars in spite of its star power. It follows the crew of the International Space Station as they intercept soil samples from Mars that contain cells of extraterrestrial life. Unfortunately, what begins as a few dormant cells proves to be a creature capable of changing its specialization, with cells shifting from muscle to sensory organ to neuron spontaneously.

    Naturally, the critter - which some school kids on Earth named "Calvin" - gets loose and starts to cause trouble on board the space station, and before long, it's a fight for the very title of the film as Calvin threatens to wipe out everyone on board.

    49 votes
  • 6
    38 VOTES

    Underwater

    Sometimes, the problem is less in messing around with creatures that we ought not be messing with than it is in messing around in places we ought not be messing in. Because sometimes those places are home to creatures whose attentions we'd really rather not attract. See, for instance, this underseen film from 2020 starring Kristen Stewart, in which a drilling operation on the ocean floor accidentally wakes up some inhospitable marine life.

    To say much more would be to get into spoilers, but let's just say that fans of cosmic horror won't be disappointed, especially when you go back through and see the indications that maybe waking up this particular marine life was the company's plan all along...

    • Actors: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller, John Gallagher
    • Released: 2020
    • Directed by: William Eubank
    38 votes

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