5 Science Fiction Horror Movies To Watch After This Week's Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

The latest addition to the "Star Trek" franchise, the Paramount+ series "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," feels both familiar and fresh at the same time, drawing from classic "Trek" while also paying homage to plenty of other parts of our popular culture. In its 10-episode first season, "Strange New Worlds" explores almost every possible kind of "Star Trek" episode, from shore-leave silliness to emotionally resonant allegories, and this week, the show dives into the sheer horrors of surviving in outer space. "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is incredibly optimistic at its core, but it's also a series about exploring the unknown, and sometimes the unknown can be truly terrifying. 

In episode 9, "All Those Who Wander," the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are faced once more with the mysterious and violent Gorn, who captured Security Chief La'an (Christina Chong) as a child and traumatized her for life. We got our first tiny glimpse of the Gorn in episode 4, "Memento Mori," but this week's episode takes the horror up a notch, referencing numerous sci-fi horror classics and getting seriously scary. If you want more of the thrills and chills that "All Those Who Wander" has to offer, I've collected a list of five sci-fi horror movies that inspired the episode or are dealing with the same creepy concepts for your reading and viewing pleasure. 

Spoilers for season 1, episode 9 of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" ahead.

Alien and Aliens

Technically including both "Alien" and "Aliens" makes this six movies, but I'm going to include them together because the episode is drawing from them both equally. Ridley Scott's "Alien" and James Cameron's "Aliens" both follow a group of humans facing off against some vicious extraterrestrials, the xenomorphs. The first film follows the commercial freighter, the Nostromo, after they respond to a distress signal from a destroyed spaceship on an alien moon, LV-426, and end up with the aliens invading the freighter. Only Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) survives, and she's asked to return to LV-426 when a human colony there loses contact with the rest of the universe. This time she's joined by space marines, but they don't handle the xenomorphs all that much better than the Nostromo's crew did. 

There are numerous shots in "All Those Who Wander" that are reminiscent of scenes from "Alien", "Aliens," and the rest of the "Alien" franchise, including moments where the audience sees through the unique vision of the Gorn and lots of Dutch angles to make everything feel more disorienting. More than that, however, the episode draws from the overall plot of "Alien" and "Aliens," as the crew of the Enterprise try to discover what happened to another Starfleet cruiser and discover that they were almost all killed by the Gorn. The Gorn reproduce similarly to the xenomorphs, using other living bodies as incubators for their young, which eventually burst out in gory fashion. While the episode hews closer to "Alien" in its horror tone and aesthetic, the inclusion of a child survivor who's more jaded than the adults that rescue her is clearly a throwback to Newt (Carrie Henn). There's also a small nod to "Alien 3" in Hemmer's sacrifice, mirroring that of Ripley. 

Honestly, it's just a shame we didn't get to see La'an put on an exo-suit and do battle with a full-grown Gorn. Oh well, there's always season 2. 

Pitch Black

When it comes to movies about killer aliens on a random planet, "Pitch Black" might be the most fun. The sci-fi action horror flick was directed by David Twohy (who wrote both "The Fugitive" and "Waterworld", because he contains multitudes), and stars Vin Diesel as the super-criminal Richard B. Riddick. 

Heh ... Dick Riddick. 

Riddick is being taken to prison when the transport ship is damaged and crash-lands on a desert planet. He initially aims to use the chaos to escape, but has a change of heart and finds a conscience when alien predators attack the other crash survivors in the night. The nocturnal monsters are bloodthirsty and better at handling the dark than anyone but Riddick, who has freaky mirror eyes that help him see, even in pitch black. 

While the aliens in "Pitch Black" don't impregnate their victims with chest-bursters or anything, they're still terrifying extraterrestrials like the Gorn and the Xenomorphs that are plenty scary. "Pitch Black" is a bit of a cult classic and went on to inspire several sequels of varying quality, but none of them were like the claustrophobic intensity of the original. 


"Serenity," the 2005 movie follow-up to the canceled-too-soon Fox series, "Firefly," isn't technically a horror movie, but it's so full of horrific elements that mirror "All Those Who Wander" that I would be remiss in not including it. 

In "Serenity," the crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity tries to unravel the mysteries of what happened on a planet called Miranda after their resident psychic River Tam (Summer Glau) begins having visions of a tragedy there. The crew eventually makes it to Miranda and finds it completely abandoned, with corpses strewn about. As the crew tries to figure out what happened, they stumble across recorded messages from some of the initial survivors of the colony's tragedy. What happened on Miranda led to the creation of the series' main bogeymen, the inhuman, cannibalistic Reavers. The Reavers are an awful lot like the Gorn; they don't have thoughts, just hunger and rage. 

Like "Strange New Worlds," "Serenity" keeps its violence and horrors within the realm of PG-13, mostly family-friendly territory, utilizing the fears of the characters to heighten the audience's anxiety. By the time the crew takes on the Reavers and realizes that not everyone might make it out alive, "Serenity" goes from a delightful Western in space to pure horror.

Event Horizon

"Event Horizon" wasn't exactly beloved in its day, but this Paul W.S. Anderson sci-fi cosmic horror nightmare is a cult classic that deserves some love. The 1997 movie stars Laurence Fishburne as the captain of the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark, which is sent after the spaceship Event Horizon goes missing and then magically returns to our solar system, orbiting around Neptune. The Horizon's designer, played by Sam Neill, comes along with the rescue team, as the ship was designed with an experimental engine that he wants to retrieve and protect. Just like the crew of the Enterprise tries to explore the downed Starfleet ship, the crew of the Lewis and Clark must explore the Event Horizon in search of clues as to what went wrong. 

The enemy in "Event Horizon" isn't an alien species like the Gorn, but rather a malevolent force that causes people to lose their minds. "Event Horizon" is pure existential, cosmic horror, and it's significantly nastier than anything that could ever happen on "Strange New Worlds," but it's hard not to see the parallels. The movie has been referenced a bit throughout the season every time Captain Pike (Anson Mount) thinks about his bleak future, envisioning himself in the hellish experience that awaits him. It's enough to make a man go mad, but hopefully, Pike won't fall prey to his cosmic fears.

The Thing

Unlike the other movies on this list, the crew at the center of "The Thing" didn't go searching for their extraterrestrial invaders. Instead, a team of American researchers in Antarctica are set upon by an extraterrestrial "thing" that acts as a parasite, taking over its host body and mutating it into something much more horrifying. What makes "The Thing" so scary is the very thing that ends up making "All Those Who Wander" so unsettling: it can be nearly impossible to tell who's infected until it's too late. In "The Thing," that means there's no trust among the survivors and they become so paranoid that they end up on a road toward mutual destruction. In "All Those Who Wander," only Hemmer (Bruce Horak) and the one surviving alien from the original ship suffer from infection, but both handle it very differently. 

The first alien hides his infection, either intentionally or because of a language barrier, resulting in the baby Gorn erupting from his flesh in a mess of blood and goo. Like so many victims of zombie bites before him, he doesn't tell anyone until it's far too late. Hemmer similarly realizes that he's infected when it's likely too late for him as well, but he takes the honorable way out by plummeting to his death and taking the baby Gorn along with him. 

In "The Thing," the men become so worried about allowing the creature to reach civilization that they're willing to face extinction themselves, though they're not nearly as dignified about it. Then again, they face more than just chestbursters; they face chest teeth and having their heads fall off and grow spider legs. That might make a person slightly more unhinged, to say the least. 

The season finale of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" premieres on July 7, 2022, on Paramount+.