Yesterday was the biggest day of the year for Star Wars fans, and yet still none of George Lucas‘ most classic films (nor his less classic) have made their way to streaming services. At least so far. So you’ll have to settle for one of the many other options hitting the Internet this week. There’s a damned good chance you’ll have seen some of these before, since this week’s streaming picks are a well-known melting pot of comedy, horror, and whatever Mimic is. But just like getting second-hand underwear for Christmas, it doesn’t have to be new to be useful.
Here’s what’s new in streaming science fiction!
Unidentified (Netflix Instant)
What better way to start your week than with a haphazard low-budget thriller? Okay, so there are plenty of better ways to spend your time, but not all of them will involve four friends whose quasi-innocent trip to Las Vegas ends up turning into an otherworldly chase after the guys get in trouble for not being able to pay a loan shark back. It’s the kind of movie where you hope the monstrous presence and the dickhead loan shark win.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Netflix Instant)
In anticipation of Gareth Edwards’ upcoming Godzilla reboot, Netflix has unleashed a slew of the most classic monster movies ever made. Not only do we have the Raymond Burr-inserted version of Toho’s first Godzilla feature, but there’s also Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla’s Revenge, Ghidora: The Three Headed Monster, Terror of Mechagodzilla, and Rodan. Witness Japan’s destruction again and again and again, and learn a little about radioactive poisoning in the meantime.
Fantastic Voyage (Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant)
Before Hollywood has a chance to remake this classic flick with David S. Goyer telling the story, experience Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage the way it was meant to be experienced: without David S. Goyer. This is the movie that spawned a nation’s fascination with really, really small humans going through a normal-sized world. The special effects almost look goofy now, but the film as a whole still retains a sense of wonder that modern-day family adventures tend to eschew in favor of CGI animals and fart jokes.
Star Trek: Insurrection (HBO Go)
Feeling almost like an extended episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Insurrection is the ninth film in the celebrated franchise, and the second directed by series co-star Jonathan Frakes. While the film still looks good, kind of, thanks to the questionable use of CGI, the story is sluggish and isn’t among fans’ favorites. Once you start messing with aliens who plan to steal entire planets, it’s best to just back away slowly.
Maximum Overdrive (Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant)
One of the first films to envision a world where “smart cars” become the exact opposite of the thing that will make life easier, Maximum Overdrive is the lone directorial effort from novelist Stephen King, based on his own short story “Trucks.” (King later admitted to being coked up for most of the production.) Still, a speedy director is exactly what one needs for a film about a meteor that causes machines to turn malevolently sentient and go on killing sprees, with Emilio Estevez as the one person who can put an end to it all. Or can he? Does it matter? Cocaine!
Armageddon (HBO Go)
“I could stay awake just to heeear you breeeeathing.” When an Aerosmith song isn’t the worst part of your movie, you know there are big problems at hand. The Michael Bay-est film of Michael Bay’s career, 1998’s Armageddon is an exercise in ludicrous plotting and over-the-top action, buoyed by nuance-free performances from Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. A guilty pleasure for those who actually feel guilt, this is a film that stands the test of time, atop an asteroid with its hands on its hips. Fill your Kleenex box with sandpaper and enjoy.
Mimic (Showtime Anytime)
Guillermo del Toro’s first foray into English-language sci-fi, Mimic was a critical and box-office flop when it hit theaters in 1997, but has since gained quite a fan base. A tale of science gone wrong, the action follows Mira Sorvino as she investigates an evolving organism that was supposed to have been completely eradicated, but which is now taking on human form and murdering shit. I didn’t like it all that much when it came out, but perhaps it was ahead of its time in this way, because I find it quite enjoyable now. Any movie with cockroach murder is fine by me.
Starman (Netflix Instant)
Not one of Jeff Bridges’ most rugged roles, Starman still utilizes the trademark smile and swagger as he lets a recent widow teach him how to live life on Earth so that he can complete his mission and head out again. Of course, the Army wants to make sure this doesn’t happen, because cinematic military folks are always trying to stop progress. Not the most memorable of John Carpenter’s hey-day releases, it’s still a fine example of how sci-fi and romance can create a winning formula. As long as Jeff Bridges is involved.
The Incredible Melting Man (Netflix Instant)
At one point featured in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, The Incredible Melting Man is a terrible example of cornball 1950s science fiction butting heads with the more tactile and effects-filled horrors of the 1970s. The result is some of the most wicked “melt” gore that film has ever seen, courtesy of visual effects mastermind Rick Baker, peppered into a drab story of an astronaut who returns to Earth with problems both mental and physical. But mostly physical.
Mork & Mindy (Hulu Plus)
Nanu nanu, everyone. This classic 1978-1982 sitcom was the world’s in-your-face introduction to the manic comedic stylings of Robin Williams as the alien Mork—initially a character in a post-shark-jumped episode of Happy Days. He moves in with Mindy (Pam Dawber) and does all kinds of wacky shit that only an alien would do, like drinking water with his fingers. Hulu has a bunch of random episodes from each of the series’ four seasons. You might want to avoid the ones with Jonathan Winters’ man-child Mearth, because comedy legends should never make one say, “Ew.”
Fido (Netflix Instant)
Zombie comedies are a dime a dozen these days, but Andrew Currie’s Fido was pretty much only comparable to Shaun of the Dead when it came out in 2006. In a role that is sadly dialogue free, stand-up star Billy Connolly plays the titular zombie, one of many undead beings domesticated by the company Zomcon, who befriends his master Timmy (Kesun Loder) as he comes of age. Set in the 1950s, Fido is a definite throwback to that decade’s sci-fi, but with the expected modern twist.
Heavy Metal (Netflix Instant)
Based on the cult 1970s French magazine, this animated anthology takes viewers down to Earth in a classic Corvette and introduces them to characters like astronaut Grimaldi, cab driver Harry Canyon, hard-ass space captain Lincoln Sternn, and many more. A product of its time like few others, Heavy Metal should be every adolescent boy’s first experience with sex and violence, to save them from confusion later on in life. [For more Heavy Metal-inspired tales, check out Metal Hurlant Chronicles on Syfy.]
And with that, we’ll see you next week!