Overall, the 1970s is by far my least favorite decade for science fiction films. In fact, I had a difficult time coming up with a list of ten scifi films from the 1970s that I consider watchable. But, since in previous blogs I’ve listed my top ten films of various decades, here is my rather pathetic list of my ten favorite scifi films of the 1970s.
1. Alien (1979) – One of only two really good scifi films of the 1970s. A great science fiction film that scared the fill-in-something-here out of me when I saw it the first time. Holds up quite well today, after more than 30 years. At the end, I thought for sure Sigourney Weaver’s cat would have an Alien thing inside it.
2. Star Wars (1977) – The original, and in my opinion the best of all six in the series. A landmark film and one that changed scifi films. It’s difficult to describe the huge impact this film had when it was released. The acting was actually kind of poor but the story carries the film. The film owes a lot to the book “A Princess of Mars” (which is the direct source for 2012’s “John Carter”).
3. The Andromeda Strain (1971) – A good film but not even close to being in the same league with my #1 and #2. I liked the realism but the plot was a bit uneven and the resolution, where the virus mutates itself was rather unsatisfying. Cool laser defense system. Ouch.
4. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – The successor to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes, and I actually prefer the sequel (although critics gave poor reviews). Rather depressing ending – the end of all civilization – but I like the reasonably intelligent plot and The Forbidden Zone.
5. Westworld (1973) – Richard Benjamin and James Brolin go to an amusement park with life-like androids including gunfighter Yul Brynner. Quite tense. The androids run amok, naturally.
6. Slaughterhouse Five (1972) – I’m not a Kurt Vonnegut fan, but I enjoyed this film adaptation of his book. The film doesn’t hold up particularly well three decades later but Billy Pilgrim jumping back and forth in time was quite an innovative idea at the time. My favorite scene was the aliens cheering for Billie and Montana Wildhack (Valerie Perrine) after, well, uh, never mind.
7. Moonraker (1979) – This James Bond film barely qualifies as science fiction but the 1970s was so weak in terms of scifi films I had to let it in. A chubby Roger Moore (liked him as The Saint, but he’s my least favorite Bond) flies around in a Space Shuttle in a mostly incomprehensible plot. This film was the second appearance of Jaws (Richard Kiel) but he becomes a good guy – very annoying.
8. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) – Dr. Charles Forbin (Eric Braeden) creates a super intelligent computer. Let’s see, will the computer a.) do exactly as it’s programmed and be a great success, or b.) become sentient and decide that humans must be controlled for their own good? Slow-moving but an early example of evil computer.
9. At the Earth’s Core (1976) – Dr. Abner Perry (Peter Cushing) creates a drilling machine. The explorers, including Doug McClure and Caroline Munro, end up in an underground world with Mahars, bizarre giant mind-control flying reptiles. Will the explorers escape?
10. Time After Time (1979) – Barely science fiction but I was desperate to get ten decent scifi films. Directed by Nicholas Meyer (thumbs up), H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) creates a time machine and confronts Jack the Ripper in the past and future. Fairly entertaining.
Honorable Mention: none.
The 1970s are notable for several movies that make most top-ten lists but that I just didn’t like.
Logan’s Run (1976) – Slow. Should have been a 30-minute TV show.
THX 1138 (1971) – Slow. Should have been a 20-minute TV show.
A Boy and his Dog (1975) – Too weird. And slow.
A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Pretentious.
Silent Running (1972) – Way too slow.
Solaris (1972) – Way too boring.
Soylent Green (1973) – OK, we’re know it’s people.
Rollerball (1975) – Too slow.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Really annoying film. I prefer evil aliens.
Superman (1978) – Just didn’t like it.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – AGH! A huge disappointment.