Top Ten List: Color Science Fiction Movies

In our last episode of "The Scintillating World of The Cheerful Oncologist" I unveiled a list of my top ten favorite black and white sci-fi films. I certainly appreciate all those readers who took a moment out of their busy day to leave a cordial comment on my taste in cinema [Editor's note: He's just kidding!]. You know, watching a good science fiction movie is one of the most enjoyable pastimes available to anyone who has ever looked up into the sky at night and asked "Why?," or who gets a vague feeling of trepidation when interrogating a citizen of the animal kingdom.

With your permission let me share part two of my list of most cherished sci-fi flicks - those filmed in color. The same disclaimer I used last time applies to this grouping: I am deliberately omitting any film that is such a classic it would make Carl Jung's head explode. Therefore Star Wars, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are out.

The envelopes please (in no particular order):

War of the Worlds (1953). No divorced-dad-psychodrama here - just relentless dread, almost to the point where the viewer must look away.

The Thing (1982). Brutal cold, claustrophobia, paranoia, aliens masquerading as colleagues, horrific and bizarre special effects - this film has it all! Who knew that Wilford Brimley, everyone's favorite grandpa, could be cinema's most malevolent villain?

Aliens (1986). Possibly the best sci-fi sequel of them all. Again, the sense of anxiety created by the story oppresses the viewer, which makes a great film. Without the contribution of H. R. Giger this movie would scary, but not a classic.

The Valley of Gwangi (1969). Watching this movie as a kid leaves a permanent impression, especially for those youngsters who think Barney is a real dinosaur. A Ray Harryhausen classic, with a memorable score that I still hum when running from velociraptors. The acting is stiff and one must suffer through the first hour of soap-opera squabbling before Harryhausen's magnificent creation takes the breath away. Cowboys and dinosaurs together forever!

Planet of the Apes (1968). Skip the remake and watch this singular tale of the consequences of man's inhumanity to man. Almost worthy of iconic status. Say, that statue looks vaguely familiar, doesn't it?

Altered States (1980). What's that? Your psych professor is giving extra credit to anyone who signs up for his latest experiment? Sure I'll do it - what could go wrong? The dialogue alone is worth the rental fee. This film almost made me want to become a radiologist just so I could bark out that classic line.

The Abyss (1989). What is this - a James Cameron tribute? Hey, can I help it if the guy makes interesting movies? Anyone who has ever freaked out when underwater can appreciate this entry. The drowning scene is one of the most disturbing events ever filmed in my opinion. Then there's that little part in the script that states, "and then the city of Atlantis is discovered." Oh, is that all?

Fanstastic Voyage (1966) and The Andromeda Strain (1971) (tie). Both films are highly imaginative, medically stimulating and unless I'm wrong, prescient in their subject matter. I repeat - prescient in their topic.

When Worlds Collide (1951). 1951? This movie is crying out to be re-made! The original will more than do for now, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wonders what our nation's response would be if we suddenly discovered that a rogue celestial body was headed straight for Earth - and don't give me any of that Bruce Willis-to-the-rescue stuff. This film in my view is the real deal. If you haven't seen it, let me give you a teaser: there were 2.5 billion people alive in 1951, and in this story less than 0.00001% of them escape Earth's final destiny.

Well, that's our show for tonight. Feel free to stop by and share your favorites, and remember - "If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain."

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