The brilliance of science fiction films is in the endless possibilities for writers and directors to create strange new worlds—worlds full of women with three breasts, monsters made of marshmallow, and robots that crack jokes with Steve Guttenberg at sunset. There’s no idea too big or strange that can’t be written in a script. The limitations that exist always relate to budget, but sometimes the lack of budget can make a film even more interesting.
Unfortunately, the Hollywood Studios don’t seem to take advantage of the vast pool of creativity that the SciFi genre provides. They keep churning out what they think will make the most money, forcing people like myself to dig deep into the Walmart DVD bins in hopes of finding a gem.
I love watching a film that has something in it that I have never seen before. Even if the idea is not executed to its full potential, I still respect it. Sometimes, the batshit craziness of an idea can make a bad film enjoyable. I want to share a short list of science fiction films that I like (or respect) for their unique ideas and creative new worlds.
I’m opening with one of my favorite gems from the nineties. CEMETERY MAN is what defined batshit crazy for me. It’s a tale of a lonely cemetery grounds keeper who is responsible for killing all the dead people after they rise again. After the tragic death of the woman of his dreams, he continuously meets different versions of her and tries to win their affection. I’m not able to describe the amazing weirdness that is in this film. It must be experienced.
SciFi Elements: Zombies, Alternate Realities
PRAYER OF THE ROLLER BOYS
As I said, sometimes a film is good because it’s so bad. PRAYER OF THE ROLLER BOYS is an example of that kind of film. In the future, the world is run by street gangs and a teenage boy must join the most powerful gang to bring them down and protect his little brother. The most powerful gang is the Roller Boys, a gang of delinquents that roam the city in the “Flying V” formation on roller blades. There are a ton of clichés and bad dialog throughout the film, but I found myself intrigued and amused by this version of our future. I love how serious the roller blading baddies take themselves and how no one thinks to just throw a whole bunch of rocks on the ground stop them.
SciFi Elements: Dystopian Future
I can’t say I enjoyed most of this film because its style is not really my cup of tea, but it has one of my favorite endings of all time. Director Greg Araki has built a cult following around his films and become an auteur of the strange. A group of teens try to overcome all of their bizarre problems before the party of the year. This film has more shit going on than James Franco in SPRINGBREAKERS, from aliens to crazy infomercial hosts to Christina Applegate with braces. Even though I did not enjoy the film as much as others, I still respect this very different take on our teenage years.
SciFi Elements: Aliens
An alien convict is banished to Earth for his crimes against his kind. The problem is that he needs a body and he is not the best at keeping the borrowed bodies in mint condition. In fact, I don’t think he ever returns any of the body parts to the original owner, so the film’s title is not really honest. I liked this film for its different perspective. I loved the scenes where the alien convict is faced with human’s day to day problems. His reactions are both interesting and humorous.
SciFi Element: Aliens and Space Travel
We all have our guilty pleasures—films that we know aren’t great (or even good) but we love them anyway. Regardless of how they accomplish it, they show us something different and take us to another world. These are some of my favorites. What are yours?