With the recent passing of Raquel Welch, a lot has been mentioned about her first major screen role. I remember this as being one of my favorite science fiction movies.
This got me to thinking about what my favorite classic science fiction movies are.
- The Day The Earth Stood Still
- War Of The Worlds
- Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
- The Thing From Another World (The original, not the John Carpenter version)
- Planet Of The Apes
- Forbidden Planet
And so forth. And they all had one thing in common. They all involved space.
I haven’t written anything here in a good while. I’ve been focused on my latest project, “The Tech Boomer.” It’s a site aiming to help seniors with tech questions and scam alerts. Check it out.
The Tech Boomer also has a YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/@thetechboomer. Only a couple of videos so far, but more will be coming.
Well, it’s been almost a year and I’m feeling fine, so I need to get on it and write some more.
Anyway, back to science fiction movies.
Since so many science fiction movies take place in space, or are about something that comes to earth from space, I decided to narrow it down to only films that don’t involve space.
I came up with a good list. Included were films like
- Last Man On Earth/Omega Man (both from the same book)
- The Amazing Colossal Man
- The Fly (the original)
And I noticed that many of those had one thing in common.
Oh yeah, monsters
Since monsters seemed to be a big part of science fiction movies, I thought I would see how many favorites I had that didn’t either involve space, or were about monsters.
That wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
So this has become a very specific list: Classic science fiction movies that don’t involve space, or are about monsters.
8 classic science fiction films that don’t involve space, or are about monsters.
Now, these aren’t in any special order, just the order I thought of them.
Fantastic Voyage (1969)
Director: Richard Fleischer
This is the film that made Raquel Welch a star.
It’s about a group of scientists trying to save another scientist’s life after an attempted assassination. To accomplish this, they and their submarine are shrunk to microscopic size and injected into him. They have one hour to travel through the bloodstream and vaporize a blood clot in his brain.
You can watch this movie on HBOMax (with subscription), and on most other streaming services for rent.
The time machine (1960)
Director: George Pal
This is one of a couple of George Pal films in this list. Another one, When Worlds Collide, didn’t make it because it’s about a planet on a collision course with Earth.
“The Time Machine” is based on an H.G.Wells novel, as was War Of the Worlds, mentioned above.
It’s set in 1900 and is about a man who invents, you guessed it, a time machine.
He uses it to travel to the future. First to 1917, then to 1940 and then 1966.
It’s funny that in 1966, people were walking around in silver space suits. Was that what Pal and the writers really thought 6 years in the future would look like?
He then kicks it up a notch and travels to the year 802,701. There all the normal people are living in what seems to be a utopia. They’re all dressed in simple clothes and living an idyllic life. Then he encounters a race of “people” called the Morlocks.
Needless to say, he is able to save the day and make it back to a dinner party.
You can rent The Time Machine on most major streaming services.
Journey to the center of the earth (1959)
Director: Henry Levin
From a Jules Verne book, this classic science fiction movie is about, yep, a group of scientists who discover a tunnel that leads to the center of the earth.
They make all sorts of discoveries, and while there is a monster in the film, it’s not really about a monster so I included it.
This movie has been remade a couple of times, but stick with the original.
You can watch Journey To The Center Of The Earth on HBOMax and Cinemax with a subscription, and for rent on most major streaming services.
Soylent Green (1973)
Director: Richard Fleischer
Another Richard Fleischer movie, this one takes place in 2022, where overpopulation, pollution, and global warming have caused worldwide shortages of food and water.
Only the rich can afford decent food and housing, the rest are relegated to eating wafers distributed by the government.
There is Soylent Yellow, Soylent Red, and the most nutritious, Soylent Green.
It also involves a murder investigation and assisted suicide. It is Edward G. Robinson’s last role, and I believe one of his best.
Just in case you haven’t seen this classic science fiction movie, I won’t give out any spoilers.
You can rent Soylent Green on most major streaming services.
The Day the earth caught fire (1961)
Director: Val Guest
In this British science fiction movie, both the US and Soviet Union detonate nuclear bombs at the same time, causing the Earth’s axis to tilt. This causes major climate changes and throws the planet out of orbit, spiraling towards the sun.
Scientists attempt something to correct this, and like the previous movie, I won’t reveal what that is, or what happens.
You can stream The Day The Earth Caught Fire on Kanopy with your university ID or library card, and for rent on most major streaming services.
Andromeda Strain (1971)
Director: Robert Wise
Based on a Michael Crichton book, this science fiction movie does involve a little bit of space, but I included it anyway.
A US Government satellite crashes near a small New Mexico town, and winds up killing everyone with the exception of an infant and an old man.
Speculation is that the satellite must have brought back some sort of alien virus, so an elite team of scientists are dispatched to attempt to figure out what it is, and why two people survived.
As a bonus, this is also one of my favorite books. I checked it out of my high school library in 1970 and finished it in a couple of days. I just couldn’t put it down, reading it while walking to and from school, to classes, and even trying to sneak a read in class.
Crichton then became one of my favorite authors.
He’ll pop up again down below.
The movie was remade as a miniseries in 2008. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment on it.
You can rent The Andromeda Strain on most major streaming services.
Crack In The World (1965)
Director: George Pal
The second George Pal science fiction movie in this list, Crack In the World is about a group of scientists attempting to drill a hole in order to tap into the earth’s thermal core for energy. When they can’t get past a certain point, they decide to use a nuclear explosion.
This causes a crack to start and continue around the Earth.
No spoilers here, watch Crack In The World on Tubi for free, and for rent on most major streaming services.
Director: Michael Crichton
Also written by Crichton, this science fiction movie takes place in some unspecified future time where people can visit high-tech amusement parks, all populated by lifelike robots that interact with the guests.
There is Medieval World, Roman World, and the one this movie focuses on, Westworld.
In Westworld, visitors are dressed like they would be if they were in an old west town, and live like they were actually back in time.
The tagline to the film was “nothing can go wrong,” so you can pretty much guess that something goes wrong.
Westworld was followed by a sequel, Futureworld, and an HBO miniseries.
You can watch Westworld on HBOMax with a subscription, and for rent on most major streaming services.
A couple (well, more than a couple) of my favorite science fiction movies didn’t make the list, as I deemed them too “new.” To us boomers, anything after 1990 can’t be considered “classic.”
Minority Report (2002)
Director: Stephen Spielberg
Written by Philip K. Dick in 1956, this science fiction movie takes place in 2054, and involves a police department that has a “precrime” division.
This department uses three psychic people to predict crime, so the police can apprehend the criminal before the crime occurs.
Many people say that it predicted today’s world, where people are tracked wherever they go.
It also predicted technology that exists today, like self driving cars (flying ones to boot) and using hand gestures to control screens.
You can watch Minority Report on Netflix and Paramount+ with a subscription, and for rent on most major streaming services.
Demolition Man (1993)
Director: Marco Brambilla
This science fiction movie takes place in the year 2032, where a criminal who was cryogenically frozen in 1996 was thawed out for a parole hearing, and subsequently escapes. The cop that originally caught him (who was also frozen because of innocent people that were killed during the capture) was also thawed out to capture him again.
The movie is full of action, and is also kind of a dark parody of society.
And we never did figure out how the three seashells worked….
You can rent Demolition Man on most major streaming services.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Director: Stephen Spielberg
My favorite director was Stanley Kubrick, and since I couldn’t include my all-time favorite science fiction movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, I thought I would list Kubrick’s last film.
True, the film was directed by Spielberg, but it was Kubrick’s conception, screenplay, and artwork. He gave the project to Spielberg in 1995, and it was started after Stanley’s death in 1999.
It takes place in the 22nd century where humanlike robots perform a lot of the work, since rising sea levels have wiped out much of the world’s population.
These robots are increasingly beginning to express emotion, and have human feelings and responses.
This science fiction movie reminds me of both the book “I Sing The Body Electric” by Ray Bradbury, and “Pinocchio.”
You can watch A.I. Artificial Intelligence on Prime Video and Paramount+, and for rent on most major streaming services.
Do You Have More?
That’s my list, if you have any others that you would like to add, just leave a comment below.
And as always, if you have any questions about this or any other article, please leave a comment below, or email me at email@example.com