24 Great and Not-So-Great Horror Movies Set in Outer Space

Outer space has become a go-to setting for horror and suspense movies over the years, aided by advances in special effects technology that allow for more realistic recreations of the interplanetary experience--including the requisite alien eagerly awaiting a human meal. Here's a list of horror and suspense movies that take place primarily in outer space or on other planets.

Alien (1979)

Alien
© 20th Century Fox

When a spaceship responds to a distress signal on a nearby planet, it unexpectedly picks up an alien life form that hides onboard the ship, killing the crew one by one. The outer space horror movie that all others are measured against, Alien is one of the most influential horror movies of all time, spawning multiple rip-offs and three more space-set sequels: ​Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection. 2012 saw a prequel film made, Prometheus. And then there is ​Alien vs. Predator, and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem--films not directly related to Alien, but certainly inspired by it. 

Creature (1985)

Creature
© Diamond Entertainment

One of many Alien retreads, this one takes place on one of Saturn's moons, with a research team (not to be confused with the A-Team, which would be far more entertaining) uncovering a canister holding a "creature" that proceeds to kill everyone on the team. . . and then sets about attacking the follow-up team that arrives to check on the first team.

Critters 4 (1992)

Critters 4
© New Line

In horror movies, going into space seems to be the equivalent of a sitcom adding a cute little kid to the cast in a last-ditch effort to revitalize the series. The fourth and final Critters film features dimwitted hero Charlie getting locked in a space pod with two critter (Crite) eggs and being blasted into space, where he goes into suspended animation for more than 50 years, then is picked up by a spaceship in the year 2045. The eggs, of course, hatch, and the Crites go on a killing spree aboard the new ship. Angela Basset is featured in an embarrassing before-she-was-famous role.

Doom (2005)

Doom
© Universal

In this competent video game adaptation, a research colony on Mars unwittingly opens a doorway to Hell through which a host of creatures invades. On the bright side, they get the definitive answer to their experiment: "How Many Scientists Would Be Slaughtered If Someone Were to Open a Gateway to Hell?"

Dracula 3000 (2004)

Dracula 3000
© Lionsgate

Certainly one of the worst incarnations of Dracula in cinematic history, this film places the legendary vampire inexplicably on a derelict spaceship in the year 3000. When a salvage ship comes to investigate, Dracula--here called Orlock, in reference to Nosferatu--attacks the crew, which is headed by Captain (wait for it) Van Helsing. The D-list cast includes Casper Van Dien, Erika Eleniak, Udo Kier, ex-wrestler Tiny "Zeus" Lister and (sigh) Coolio.

Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon DVD
© Paramount

Oft-maligned director Paul W.S. Anderson (AKA Mr. Milla Jovovich) delivers this dark, disturbing, and well-crafted tale of a space ship, the Event Horizon that pops up in the year 2047 after disappearing for seven years. When a rescue ship is dispatched to investigate, the crew discovers that the Event Horizon has been to another dimension, bringing back with it an evil presence that makes people's fears materialize.

Forbidden World (1982)

Forbidden World
© Embassy

Also known as Mutant, this is another cheap Alien clone, this time coming from legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman. In it, a research team on a fictional planet genetically engineers a life form as a food source, only to see it turn into a killing machine. Corman would later revisit this material in 1990's Dead Space, a remake of Forbidden World that no one really wanted.

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Galaxy of Terror
© United Artists

How many times can Roger Corman go to this well? This time, a space ship is sent to a distant planet to investigate a crash and encounters a creature that uses the crew's own fears to kill them off--much like Event Horizon would do years later.

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Ghosts of Mars
© Columbia TriStar

Ignoring the loud flopping sound of previous cinematic Mars excursions Mission to Mars and The Red Planet, director John Carpenter revisited the basic premise of his 1976 film Assault on Precinct 13--a small group of police officers guarding a notorious felon in an isolated police station under siege from a horde of nogoodniks -- by setting it on Mars and populating the horde with miners possessed by Martian spirits. Disappointing but not without some entertainment value, particularly if you enjoy seeing Ice Cube scowl.

The Green Slime (1968)

The Green Slime
© MGM
This silly Japanese production has attained a level of camp acclaim over the years, telling the tale of astronauts who, in Armageddon fashion, fly to an asteroid to blow it up before it hits Earth. Unlike Armageddon, however, a green alien blob hitches a ride off of the asteroid and mutates into tentacled beings that emit electricity to kill the ship's crew.

Inseminoid (1981)

Inseminoid
© Elite
Hey look, it's an Alien knock-off! In this sleazy British flick, a female member of a science team exploring a distant planet's underground caverns is attacked and impregnated by an alien. Driven by the nutritional needs of her twin mutant babies, she goes about killing and drinking the blood of her colleagues.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

It! The Terror from Beyond Space
© MGM

At last, a film that might have actually inspired Alien instead of ripping it off. A space ship is sent to Mars to investigate the crash of another ship, and when the new crew rescues the lone survivor, they accidentally leave their hatch open, allowing an"it" to climb aboard. In mid-flight, the creature begins to kill the astronauts in typically bloodless '50s fashion. Despite the outlandish title, it's one of the better, more serious-minded monster flicks of the decade.

Jason X (2001)

Jason X
© New Line

Putting iconic villain Jason Vorhees in space might seem like a "jump the shark" moment, but the Friday the 13th series had already scraped the bottom of the barrel with parts 8 and 9, so it was a calculated risk. In the film, Jason is captured by the government and ends up cryogenically frozen during an escape attempt. He's discovered in the year 2455, a time when Earth has become so polluted that humans have abandoned it for another planet. The people who discover him are, of course, young, nubile students who prove to be perfect victims for Jason's 25th century rampage.

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Leprechaun 4: In Space
© Lionsgate

Yet another horror movie franchise is jettisoned into space, this one the most ridiculous of the lot, as the evil leprechaun boards a space ship to "rescue" the alien princess whom he plans to marry. In the process, he kills a bunch of space marines, materializes in a man's penis, turns another man into a spider, grows to 100 times his size and gets blown to bits . . .twice.

Moon (2009)

Moon movie poster
© Sony Pictures Classics

This is an acclaimed thriller taking place in the near future, in which an astronaut who's been working alone at a Moon mining base for three years encounters a mysterious stranger who makes him start to question where he fits into the company's plans.

Pandorum (2009)

'Pandorum' movie poster.
'Pandorum' movie poster. © Overture

Two astronauts wake up in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spaceship with no memory of who they are and what their mission is. As they explore the ship, they come to realize that they're not alone and that the survival of mankind hinges on their actions.

Pitch Black (2000)

Pitch Black DVD
© Universal

In Pitch Black, a transport ship crash-lands on an uncharted planet populated by nocturnal creatures awaiting an impending solar eclipse. Fortunately, the castaways include a prisoner who can see in the dark. Unfortunately, he's Vin Diesel. This is one of the best horror movies of the early 21st century.

The Planet (2008)

The Planet
© MTI

In this cheap but efficient Scottish offering, a crew of Scottish mercenaries aboard a space ship (sadly, none of whom utters, "I've given her all she's got, cap'n!") comes under attack and is forced to crash land on an uncharted desert planet. Only then does the captain bother to tell them that they were carrying a crazy doomsday cult terrorist, who now seems to have escaped. As if that wasn't bad enough, the planet is occupied by invisible beings that are impervious to their futuristic weaponry.

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Planet of the Vampires
© MGM

Legendary Italian horror movie director Mario Bava's only foray into science fiction, Planet of the Vampires is an atmospheric flick whose look possibly inspired Alien--minus the black leather body suits. Two rescue ships are sent to investigate a distress signal on an unexplored planet, only to discover the planet inhabited by vampiric alien life forms with mind-control powers.

Savage Planet (2006)

Savage Planet
© Sony

This ho-hum Sci Fi Channel movie takes place in the year 2068, when Earth has depleted its natural resources and has ceased to be inhabitable. A company seeking to colonize a distant planet teleports a crew to investigate, only to discover that it's inhabited by giant killer . . . bears? Really?

Screamers (1995)

Screamers
© Columbia TriStar

This underrated, intelligent sci-fi horror film is set on the planet Sirius 6B in the year 2078, a time when war is raging between a group of miners (the "Alliance") and their former employer, NEB. The Alliance has created subterranean, artificially intelligent weapons called screamers, which develop the ability to self-replicate and evolve into anthropomorphic form, setting their sights on eradicating all humans. Followed by the inferior sequel Screamers: The Hunting in 2009.

Star Crystal (1986)

Star Crystal
© New World

Ridiculous, low-budget fare about a crew who boards an abandoned spaceship and finds it occupied by a monstrous alien that possesses a valuable crystal--and a desire to kill.

Supernova (2000)

Supernova
© MGM
This slick thriller plays a bit like an interplanetary version of Dead Calm, with a 22nd century medical rescue ship responding to a distress call from miners on a comet and picking up a dangerous stranger who smuggles aboard an alien artifact that exhibits strange powers.

Vampire Wars: Battle for the Universe (2005)

Vampire Wars: Battle for the Universe
© Echo Bridge

Also known as Bloodsuckers, this uninspired, unintentionally funny Sci Fi Channel movie takes John Carpenter's Vampires to an interstellar level, as a group of vampire-hunting toughs eradicate bloodsuckers across the universe--or at least in a galaxy or two.