dead space downfall

Dead Space: Downfall (2008)

Workers on a galactic mining colony discover an alien artifact, and when a ship arrives to claim the object, the crew members discover the colony has descended into a murderous chaos. They bring the item aboard anyway, and soon the crew themselves begin experiencing feelings of rage driving them towards homicide and suicide alike. And then they become something even worse.

This animated prequel to the popular video games is probably the most straightforward of the films here, as the entirety of its plot is in those few sentences above. It fully embraces the sci-fi/horror aesthetic with its Alien-like take on corporate control paired with numerous sequences of utter biological horror. Bodies are torn apart, shot to a pulp, imploded from within, and more, and it succeeds somewhat in capturing the “survival horror” aspect of the games.

Being a prequel, the film feels less like a full story and more like a simple lead-in to the games, but that lack of narrative doesn’t weaken the satisfaction that comes with the gory goods and the creature variations.

europa report

Europa Report (2013)

A ship heads to Jupiter’s fourth largest moon after satellites discover heat signals beneath the ice surface, suggesting the possibility of early life forms. Trouble begins after they land and find mysterious lights in and below the ice. Soon, the crew begins falling prey to misfortune, misguided actions, and possibly something far more threatening.

It’s no mystery why this sedate and methodical sci-fi thriller failed to find much of an audience, as its faux-documentary format forces a more controlled pace and structure than genre films typically dictate. We’re shown what amounts to found footage ending and told that it was the last known public transmission from the ship, but the “documentary” reveals that additional footage was eventually recovered. The crew’s final hours are essentially what we’re watching, interspersed with brief snippets from various mission control personalities back on earth, and it plays out like an official look at a doomed mission.

Even with those stipulations though the film is a terrific little sci-fi thriller whose slow build is aided by an authentic feel and a solidly understated cast including Embeth Davidtz, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, and Sharlto Copley. Advisors from NASA helped ensure technical accuracy, and it’s evident in details big and small. Even mundane moments carry more weight as the reality of it all makes every action a real matter of life and death, which in turn magnifies the dramatic terror when the alien entity slips into view.

buck rogers space vampire

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, “Space Vampire” (1980)

A ship populated by people stuck in some kind of coma crashes into a space station and it’s not long before the station’s crew members begin falling into mysteriously deep sleeps of their own. Some believe an unfamiliar virus is to blame, but good old Buck Rogers suspects a far more malevolent force is at work here. The Vorvon is a unibrowed creature with a goofy grin and a nasty habit of draining his victims’ life essence before turning them into vampire slaves, and soon Buck and his friends are outnumbered by the intergalactic undead.

This last entry is a bit of a cheat. Yes it’s a TV episode, and yes, it’s from a show best known for spandex, bright colors, and a lovable robot voiced by Mel Blanc, but sweet Jesus, is it a creepy slice of network television from the ‘80s. I’m sure that claim seems ludicrous in the face of, well, the face above, but I swear it’s disturbing in action. The Vorgon has a disturbing way about him despite his looks, and the episode does a good job adding a chill to the typically antiseptic atmosphere through lighting, POV, and the slow approach of the fanged undead.

Pages: Previous page 1 2

Cool Posts From Around the Web: