We count down the five most disturbing sci-fi movies you must watch alone, at night, and in a dark room.
When it comes to entertainment, there are different types of terror, from the rush of a jumpscare or the pursuit of a slasher, as in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Scream. Still, there’s another type, one that’s far more insidious as it gets into your head and haunts you long after the credits roll. This list is about the latter, the disturbing sci-fi movies with images and concepts so twisted, they are far more terrifying than any movie monster.
5. Eraserheard (1977)
Eraserhead is the first feature film from director David Lynch, and considering how strange his later projects were, from Blue Velvet to Twin Peaks, it says something when the black and white film is his most bizarre movie.
Trying to explain the film is an exercise in futility since it involves a Man in a Planet and, what makes it one of the most disturbing sci-fi movies of all time, an alien baby with the face of a snake (sort of). The surrealist imagery is bound to haunt viewers long after the film is over, with debates raging today in internet forums as to the true meaning of the story.
4. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
One of the most disturbing sci-fi movies of all time came from Japan, and amazingly, Tetsuo: The Iron Man started a new golden age for Japanese cinema by attracting the attention of major film festivals.
The movie is filled with bizarre scenes as a Japanese office worker is repeatedly attacked and finds his body becoming increasingly metallic with each encounter, culminating in a knockdown drag-out fight with a metal fetishist.
With nightmarish imagery and a darkly comic plot that resembles a live-action cartoon, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is hard to look at but fascinating at the same time.
3. Videodrome (1983)
A David Cronenberg classic and still considered one of his best films, Videodrome is a deeply disturbing sci-fi movie filled with the now-trademark body horror and psychosexual themes wrapped up in a cybernetic shell.
Starring James Woods and Debbie Harry, the film is about a UHF president slowly corrupted by a strange broadcast channel filled with bizarre films of sex and death, eventually succumbing to the mind control of fanatics that want to make society pure.
Despite the strange images and horrifying special effects, Videodrome is hailed as a genre classic and considered one of the best horror films ever made.
2. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The oldest of the most disturbing sci-fi movies on this list, A Clockwork Orange is one of Stanley Kubrick‘s cinematic masterpieces, featuring a young Malcolm Mcdowell at his most “ultra-violent.” While the previous films have dark and bizarre imagery, they don’t match the sheer violence and brutality on display in A Clockwork Orange, and that’s even before the nightmarish Ludovico Technique is unleashed upon the audience.
In some ways, it’s the easiest film on this list to watch, but in others, it’s the worst of the lot; since no aliens or technology are involved, the violence comes from humans.
1. The Fly (1986)
The Fly is another of David Cronenberg’s body horror masterpiece starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. The plot is simple, a scientist accidentally teleports with a fly, merging their DNA and causing his body to slowly fall apart. This is the most disturbing sci-fi movie because of how one simple mistake sets off a horrifying chain of events, including a nightmare about giving birth to a maggot that is guaranteed to live rent-free in every viewer’s head for years.
20th Century Studios is, for some reason, going to attempt to recreate the classic film with Zendaya in the leading role under the direction of J.D. Dillard. While it’s unlikely to reach the nightmarish heights of the original, it’s been a while since a mainstream body horror film was unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
Disturbing sci-fi movies usually have a lot to say about society and humanity, provided viewers can get past the bizarre vision being presented to them.
- GFR Score calculated using averages of audience and critical reactions across multiple platforms.