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The Greatest Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy Films of All Time

By Steve Biodrowski     March 07, 2000

There are many fool's errands in the world. You know you can never truly succeed, and yet the temptation is too much to resist. For example: picking the Greatest Baseball Player of All Time, or the Most Talented Musician, or the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. Add to this list: selecting the Greatest Movies Ever Made. It's an impossible task, and the complications only growin ironic, inverse proportionswhen you try to narrow the field down to the Best Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Films. A slew of new questions arise: What is Science Fiction? Does a movie have to have a monster to be considered 'Horror'? How unreal must a story be, before it's considered Fantasy? It's a task that would intimidate many a wise man, but as the saying goes, 'Fools rush in...'

To compile our list, we began by asking writers to suggest titles that should be considered for inclusion in the Top 100. After assembling well over 400 titles, we sent this preliminary list out to our staff of writers and webmasters. In order to narrow down the nominees, everyone was instructed to mark each title in one of four ways: a definite yes vote, a definite no vote, a neutral vote, or a non-vote (for films not seen). In addition, voters were asked to double check for any worthy titles that may have been overlooked up to that point.

From this preliminary voting, titles with little or no support were removed. Other films with strong support were also sifted out of the list, due to objections that some of them didn't truly qualify as genre entries. (These appear in a separate sidebar about great borderline titles.)

For the final round, our staff was instructed to list the films numerically from best to worst. An average score was then determined by adding up the total votes and dividing by the number of voters. The advantage of this method is that a film seen by everyone but only fairly well liked, is not likely to outscore a well-loved film that was perhaps seen by fewer voters. The disadvantage is that a film that divides opinion between those who love it and those who hate it will score about the same as one that provokes a middle-of-the-road response across the board.

Nevertheless, the results turned out to be more satisfactory than is often the case with this kind of thing. In 1987, when Rolling Stone magazine ran its list of the Best 100 albums of the previous twenty years, the introductory paragraph sounded an almost apologetic note for the quirkiness of the selections (even admitting to the egregious lack of even a single Kinks album). Happily, we have no such apologies to make here. Sure, there is not enough room, even among a list of 100, for every deserving gem to find a setting--but we have managed to deliver a representative cross-section of the best from many different eras and styles. You'll find everything from classics to cutting edge contemporary filmmaking, with maybe even a little camp thrown in, and you'll find high-brow art house efforts rubbing shoulder to shoulder with high-octane exploitation.

As with any list of this type, the final selections represent a consensus, and consensus seldom alligns with individual tase. Readers usually want to see their favorites listed, but voters feel the weight of history on their shoulders, urging them to pick established classics and important or trend-setting films. We've tried to avoid this as much as possible, looking at the films not as significant historical landmarks but as works of art and entertainment. We think that all the films here stand that test, and we hope fans will agree, even if they are disappointed to find one or two expected titles missing.

What was most instructive about compiling this list was the breadth of good films out there. For genres so generally despised by mainstream critics (look at the paltry showing on the American FIlm Institutes 100 Years, 100 Movies list), science fiction, horror, and fantasy have yielded an impressive body of work. If we feared we would be stretching to find 100 titles, we were pleasantly proven wrong. Easily, we could have split the films into three different categories, one for each genre, and still come up with 100 each. (Hmmm...interesting idea. Maybe next year.)

For now, however, you'll have to be satisfied with this selection, culled from the finest that the genres have to offer: The 100 Best Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Films.

The Top 100 Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy Films
1.King Kong (1933)
2.2001: A Space Odessey (1968)
3.The Exorcist (1973)
4.Blade Runner (1982)
5. Psycho (1960)
6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
7.Alien (1979)
8.The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
9.Star Wars (1977)
10.A Clockwork Orange (1972)
11.Dawn of the Dead (1979)
12.The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
13.Terminator 2 (1990)
14.Gojira (a.k.a., Godzilla, 1954)
15.Horror of Dracula (1958)
16.Frankenstein (1931)
17.Night of the Living Dead (1968)
18.Aliens (1986)
19.Terminator (1985)
20.Curse of the Demon (1958)
21.War of the Worlds (1953)
22.It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
23.Brazil (1985)
24.Fantasia (1941)
25.Jaws (1975)
26.Seven (1995)
27.The Matrix (1999)
28.A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
29.The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
30.Forbidden Planet (1956)
31.Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
32.The Shining (1980)
33.E.T. (1982)
34.Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
35.The Road Warrior (1982)
36.A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
37.The Bride With White Hair (1993)
38.Planet of the Apes (1968)
39.Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
40.Babe (1995)
41.Beauty and the Beast (1946)
42.Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
43.Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
44.The Birds (1963)
45.The Haunting (1963)
46.The Thing From Another World (1951)
47.Like Water for Chocolate (1994)
48.Jurassic Park (1993)
49.The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
50.Beauty and the Beast (1991)
51.Robocop (1986)
52.Toy Story 2 (1999)
53.The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
54.Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982)
55.Rosemary's Baby
56.Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
57.12 Monkeys
58.The Cat People (1942)
59.The Andromeda Strain (1971)
60.Princess Mononoke (1997)
61.Metropolis (1927)
62.Carrie (1976)
63.The Truman Show (1998)
64.Black Sunday (1960)
65.Repulsion (1965)
66.Carnival of Souls (1962)
67.The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
68.Dracula (1931)
69.A Christmas Carol (1951)
70.The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
71.Evil Dead 2 (1987)
72.Edward Scissorhands (1990)
73.Re-Animator (1985)
74.The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
75.Back to the Future (1985)
76.Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
77.Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
78.Starship Troopers (1997)
79.The Wicker Man (1973)
80.Superman (1978)
81.Miracle Mile (1988)
82.Freaks (1933)
83.Village of the Damned (1960)
84.Akira (1988)
85.The Thing (1982)
86.Batman (1989)
87.The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
88.Eyes without a Face (1958)
89.The Sixth Sense (1999)
90.Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
91.20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
92.Green Snake (1993)
93.Ghost in the Shell (1995)
94.Tenebrae (1982)
95.The Innocents (1961)
96.The Black Cat (1934)
97.Altered States (1990)
98.Dark City (1998)
99.The Fly (1986)
100.Masque of the Red Death (1965)


For those of you interested in statistics, here are a few that might interest you. Some of these are open to interpretation. For instance, the criteria for what does or doesn't qualify as a remake are open to debate. For the sake of simplicity, we decided that any film reusing a common source was a remake even if it wasn't specifically based on a previous film version.

Number of Films by Decade
1920s: 3
1930s: 9
1940s: 4
1950s: 11
1960s: 18
1970s: 11
1980s: 25
1990s: 20

Number of Silent Films: 3

Number of Foreign Language Films: 8
(Note: some may have been dubbed)

Number of Sequels: 10
Bride of Frankenstein*
Dawn of the Dead*
The Empire Strikes Back*
Evil Dead 2+
The Road Warrior+
Star Trek II+
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home+
Terminator 2*
Toy Story 2+

*Sequels ranked higher than their predecessors (8)
+Sequels to films that didn't make the list (5)

Number of Remakes: 12
Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
A Christmas Carol+
Curse of Frankenstein
Dracula+ (remake of Nosferatu)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde+ (remake of John Barrymore version)
The Fly +
Frankenstein+ (remake of lost silent Thomas Edison version)
Horror of Dracula*
The Thing
12 Monkeys+ (remake of short subject La Jetee)
The Wizard of Oz+ (if you count silent short movies)

*Remakes that rank higher than their predecessors (9)
+Remakes of films that didn't make the list (8)

Directors With More Than One Film on the List
Stanley Kubrick: 4
Steven Spielberg: 4
James Cameron: 3
Robert Wise: 3
Tod Browning: 2
Tim Burton: 2
Terence Fisher: 2
Terry Gilliam: 2
Alfred Hitchcock: 2
Roman Polanski: 2
George Romero: 2
Ridley Scott: 2
Jacques Tourneur: 2
Paul Verhoeven: 2
James Whale: 2
Robert Zemeckis: 2

Directors With More Than One Film in the Top Ten
Stanley Kubrick (2)
Ridley Scott (2)

Stars with the Most Films on the List
Harrison Ford (4)
Peter Cushing (3)
Boris Karloff (3)
Christopher Lee (3)


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rsb105 8/25/2008 3:20:43 AM
Mr. Biodrowski: Congrdulations sir! It is not often I read a list of proposed 'Greatest' science fiction films that is actually reasonable. i do apologise for not writing sooner but I just found out about the site and I currently am deployed overseas for the Army and cannot get to the internet as I like. So I will leave you with this. I believe that there are always 3 categories when deciding a list of this sort. 1- What GENERALLY accepted as the 100 greatest by Sci-Fi-ologists, 2- what you or I THINK is the 100 greatest and 3- What our personal favorites are that would influence addition to said list. You added 'Horror of Dracula' 1958 Hammer, which would be on my list but that the general audience wouldnt know about. You also added 'Jason and the Argunauts' which is another splended choice. This shows that you know what you are taliking about- however I would argue for these addtional films that challenge the below 36 Dawn of the Dead (1979) Terminator 2 (1990) It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Brazil (1985) Seven (1995) The Matrix (1999) The Road Warrior (1982) A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) The Bride With White Hair (1993) Babe (1995) Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) Like Water for Chocolate (1994) Beauty and the Beast (1991) Robocop (1986) Toy Story 2 (1999) 12Monkeys Princess Mononoke (1997) The Truman Show (1998) Repulsion (1965) A Christmas Carol (1951) Evil Dead 2 (1987) Edward Scissorhands (1990) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Starship Troopers (1997) Miracle Mile (1988) Akira (1988) The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) The Sixth Sense (1999) Green Snake (1993) Ghost in the Shell (1995) Tenebrae (1982) The Innocents (1961) Altered States (1990) Dark City (1998) The Fly (1986) My 36 include: Invisable man[universal],Fantastic Voyage,The Blob[original],7th Voyage of Sinbad,the Raven(universal), Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The wolfman(Universal), The Mummy(universal), Nosferatu(original),Dr Jeckell and Mr hyde(Frederick March),King kong (2004), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (Hammer), the Time Machine (original), anaconda, Valley of Gwangi, Day of the Triffids, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave(Hammer), Beast from 20,000 fathoms, The invisable Ray[universal], Island of lost Souls, Star Wars:Attack of the Clones,Star Wars:Rvenge of the Sith, Children shouldn't play with Dead Things, Gamera V/s Legion, Gamera guardian of the Universe, The Thing[john carpenter],the Fly[original],the Collosus of NY, Rasputin the Mad Monk[Hammer],The Gorgon[Hammer],Frankenstein Created Woman[Hammer], Ghostbusters, House of Frankenstein[universal], The Omen, The Devil Rides out[Hammer], Attack of the 50 ft Woman,Creature from the the Black lagoon. I hope that this offers some thought, however great list sir Ron


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