From Alien to Event Horizon, space is the place for some truly terrifying horror movies.
Let’s be honest, the world is kind of a mess right now. It’s scary and not always in the best ways–which is kind of a bummer when it comes to enjoying the typically cathartic experience of a horror movie. Thankfully, however, we have the time honored tradition of space horror to solve all our problems. From the played-straight classics to the high camp disasters, sending monsters and murderers into orbit or onto alien worlds has been a favorite of film makers for generations.
We’ve compiled a list of eleven of our favorites–some you’ll definitely recognize, others you might not–to serve as inspiration for your trip into the far reaches of the galaxy this Halloween. And don’t forget to take a look at our favorite horror movies directed by women, or our favorite horror inspired professional wrestlers if you’re looking for even more fodder for your last-minute holiday movie marathon plans. You can also check out our list of Freddy’s best kills and the best must-watch horror movies streaming right now.
The Alien franchise
Getting the most obvious one out of the way first. The Alien franchise may have its ups and downs but it’s a series of films that have made their mark on all of pop culture for good reason. In fact, there’s a good chance a Xenomorph is the first thing you thought of when you read the words “Space” and “Horror” in the headline.
Usually it’s extraterrestrial monsters posing a threat on desolate space stations but in Event Horizon, it’s hell itself. A perfectly horrific blend of theological terror and good ol’ fashioned body horror, Event Horizon has become a modern day classic for many horror enthusiasts.
Let’s get a little eldritch with it. Pandorum puts a spin on the trope of a space station besieged by alien monsters with an impressive third-act reveal which we won’t spoil for you here. Come for the twists and turns, stay for the cool creature designs and claustrophobic sets.
The Cloverfield Paradox
While the other two entries in the Cloverfield franchise featured alien creatures coming to Earth, The Cloverfield Paradox took the story into the stars. Did it work? That depends on who you ask–but there are certainly plenty of horrifying moments set on a space station here, so we’ve got to include it.
Don’t let the deceptively simple title fool you, Life features some extremely well researched ideas about alien biology that rapidly spiral into a disgusting, infectious nightmare. A cool monster and a star studded cast make this one a worthwhile watch.
Vin Diesel fans, rise up. While this movie threads the needle between action-adventure and horror, we’d be remiss not to include it after it launched the whole Riddick line-up and introduced us to one extremely cool hero.
Sunshine gets its start as a much more traditional sci-fi movie–a crew sent on a last-ditch mission to attempt to reignite a dying sun and save the world–it rapidly spirals into something much, much darker and more surreal when they’re waylaid by a derelict vessel. This one takes some cues from Event Horizon in all the best ways–and is home to one killer soundtrack.
Taking an abrupt turn from the serious to the silly, we have Hellraiser 4, which takes place on a space station, in revolutionary France, and in the ’90s. It’s a movie with a whole lot going on–but that’s why we love it. Also, how can you say no to Pinhead in space?
If Hellraiser 4 were somehow not goofy enough for you, may we recommend Jason X? The 2001 Friday the 13th movie that puts Jason–or, rather, a cyborg version of Jason who was cryogenically frozen and reawoken on a new planet–in a sci-fi context. Yes, it’s really that dumb, and yes, we genuinely love it.
If found footage is more your style, the Europa Report is one you’ll want to check out. It features a dire mission of scientists to Europa, a moon of Jupier, and the increasingly disturbing evidence they find as their mission goes slowly out of control.
A ship carrying convicts is being sent to a black hole on an experimental mission to extract energy–and it really just gets worse from there. This movie is bleak and contains a lot of troubling subject matter so proceed with caution, but if that’s something you’re up for, you’re in for an innovative and disturbing horror experience.