10. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Prior to “Night of the Living Dead,” we as moviegoers, had some experience with zombies. The film really set itself apart with its ferocity, which was terrifying for the time and still relatively disturbing today.
9. Sunshine (2007)
Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” was an existential masterpiece for much of its runtime. Sure, the plot was a bit far fetched, but its posits on life and the universe were eye-opening. As the film neared a staggering conclusion, it somehow evolved into a bizarre slasher film. This was truly one of the most perplexing turns in movie history.
8. Children of Men (2006)
A catastrophic fertility crisis was the basis for “Children of Men.” Honestly though, the film is so much more, really examining our role and flaws as human beings. Clive Owen is fantastic in one of the most visually-affecting movies of the decade.
7. 28 Days Later (2002)
There are effective “zombie apocalypse” movies…and then there is “28 Days Later.” Building on many of the films on this list, “28 Days Later” gave us a brilliant mix of classic horror and the macabre psychology that goes along with global pandemic. A thoughtful and energized effort.
6. Melancholia (2011)
Think what you want of director Lars von Trier, but he is immensely talented. His “Melancholia” is easily his most interesting and complete work to date. The film centers around the world ending upon collision with another planet. Despite this context, this is a very character-driven piece.
5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
“Dawn of the Dead” is still, in this author’s opinion, the greatest zombie-centric film of all-time. Not only was it high on action, but it was a claustrophobic pressure cooker, stripping its characters down to primal instinct. This is the true genius of horror.
4. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Technically, “La Jetee” was a short film, but who cares? Terry Gilliam added his own bizarre artistic twist to the original to create one of the better sci-fi flicks in decades. Sure, the time machine looked like something they use to artificially inseminate turkeys, but you can’t win them all.
3. Fail-Safe (1965)
Long before the days of Skynet and the like, actual Cold War tensions gave us a reason to fear technology. “Fail-Safe” was a good example to rationalize this fear. The film is high-tension throughout and the feeling of dread is overwhelming. At the end of the day though, the film is a horrific cautionary tale.
2. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The first “Terminator” was a sci-fi classic, but the sequel was absolute perfection. From one of the most feared villains in cinematic history to sparking pop-culture catchphrases, this one had it all. The movie also had a foreboding atmosphere that made even a “happy” ending seem ominous.
- Dr. Strangelove (1964)
The uber-talented Peter Sellers played numerous roles in this one. It’s a shame how people seem to have forgotten Dr. Strangelove, as the film is an all-time classic. Sellers is brilliant, and his President Muffley is both hilarious and utterly terrifying.