While the ‘50s were the golden age of science fiction, the 60s were just as influential in today’s filmmaking. Many of the great 50s sci-fi flicks concentrated on aliens and monstrosities of science, while the 60s began to evolve science fiction through new technology and ideas.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the top sci-fi films of the 1960s:
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)
Influenced by sea exploration films, particularly “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, which stars Peter Lorre and, yes, a giant squid, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” still stands on its own 8 legs. The crew of the Seaview, the world's first privately owned nuclear submarine, explores oceans and seeks answers to the world's problems. They encounter espionage, environmental catastrophe, nuclear doomsday scenarios, and more than their share of undersea monsters. It’s the undersea equivalent to many space exploration shows.
This French movie has all the makings of a classic film noir with its secret agents, mystery, and suspense. What distinguishes “Alphaville” as science fiction is its dystopian metropolis set in a distant corner of the galaxy. Underneath the film’s beautiful exterior is a meaningful story about liberation from a computer that uses mind control to rule over the residents in Alphaville.
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
If studying human anatomy is your thing, then this makes for quite an exciting adventure. Fantastic Voyage takes a team of specialists and shrinks them down to venture inside the body of a dying man. It's a nail-biting race for time in hopes to complete their mission before reverting back to normal size. Who knew human anatomy could be so fun?
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Based on Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend”, “The Last Man on Earth” centers on a fight for survival and that of the last of humanity. Vincent Price is the seemingly sole survivor of a devastating world-wide plague due to a mysterious immunity he acquired. He’s all alone… um, except for tons of vampire mutants that dwell on the plagued planet. This is a film that, rightfully so, influenced and inspired the countless disease outbreak movies to come.
Have you ever wished you could take on a new look, a new identity and start all over? Many of us have, I’m sure, but have you ever considered the consequences? In his pursuit of freedom from an unhappy life, a middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure to fake his own death, alter his appearance and change his entire identity, but finds that it comes with a psychologically enduring price.
Village of the Damned (1960)
This movie made me double take every light-blonde haired little kid with a bowl-cut. This film is set in a village similar to that of hell on earth. Seriously though, the film is set in a village where everyone suddenly falls unconscious for unknown reasons, and when they awaken, the women find themselves pregnant with the freakiest damn children ever imagined, who all look alike. If you could cross a village of tow-haired little freaks with the Children of the Corn, you would get the “Village of the Damned”. Since the children were born, the villagers start mysteriously dying. It’s a great scary sci-fi movie, that will definitely have you double-thinking about birth control. Beware the children!
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
“Fahrenheit 451” of course started off as a novel by Ray Bradbury, which tackled issues such as book burning and censorship. Kind of ironic then that the novel would later be banned in schools across America. If you didn’t get to read it in high school, at least do yourself a service and check out the worthy film adaptation. Often paralleling Nazi Germany, “Fahrenheit 451” presents a society oblivious to the Fascism taking place. The film will motivate anyone to fight ignorance through the power of knowledge, speech, and flamethrowers.
The Time Machine (1960)
In this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic novel, an eager inventor crafts a device that can carry a human passenger forward or backward through time. He travels 800,000 years into the future and finds a world in which humans have evolved into two species. What the inventor finds in this mysterious future challenges him to contemplate humanity’s bleak destiny and his own error of taking the present for granted. Definitely gives you something to think about while going forward in life.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
“Take your stinking hands off me you damn dirty ape!”, is probably one of the most famous quotes from any movie, period. What would you do if you landed on a planet where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved? This is a thought-provoking story about slavery, ignorance, and government which brought home an honorary Oscar for makeup. It’s perhaps one of the best movies of its time. Oh, gotta love that ending, huh?
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this is a masterpiece of a movie about future mankind. “2001” takes us on an astounding leap through time, from primitive mankind discovering their first tool to future mankind developing their most advanced tool. Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously, artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. Unfortunately, the crew isn’t exactly informed of what they’re in for. Like all great sci-fi films, “A Space Odyssey” opens up so many fascinating possibilities for its time and is perhaps one of the best sci-fi films, EVER, that has become a major inspiration and influence for every space travel film thereafter.