Looking for a good obscure space adventure movie? You’ve come to the right place.
With both Star Wars and Marvel cosmic doing strong numbers in recent years, it’s safe to say that space adventure movies have made a fantastic return. There are of course a number of space adventure films that are less well known.
In the ’80s we had numerous Star Wars knock offs and even today a lot of great sci-fi films are either forgotten or poorly marketed. These films are by no means the best of the bunch. But they do at the very least warrant a look if you need something to hold you over until the next tentpole release.
Number 10: Star Crash
At the bottom slot we have Star Crash. If you haven’t heard of it, then rest assured it’s for good reason. Star Crash looked cheap when it came out and the years have not been kind. There is however a strange charm to this Italian low budget movie.
Directed by Luigi Cozzi, Star Crash has as much in common with Barbarella as it does Star Wars. It tells the story of female lead Stella, who must race against time to find the ultimate weapon to end an intergalactic war. On the way Stella goes on a series of misadventures.
The film is also note worthy for an uncomfortable cameo by a very young David Hasselhoff.
Number 09: The Green Slime
There are ropey sci-fi movies from the ’70s and ’80s, and then there’s The Green Slime from 1968. The Green Slime is, strangely enough, a Japanese production with a Western cast shot in English.
The plot involves a mission to destroy an asteroid seemingly going to plan – that is until an alien life form returns with the crew and multiplies. Visual effects that will make fans of classic Doctor Who blush and misogynistic gender issues aside (but not ignored), this is another fun entry. It also has a very catchy theme tune.
Number 8: Galaxy of Terror
For those of you who love the first two Alien movies but hate the others, it may be worth taking a glimpse at Galaxy of Terror.
Produced by Roger Corman and with James Cameron on production design, this B-grade schlock sci-fi horror is surprisingly well made. Some of the set design has a similar feel to Aliens.
The story involves a ship making an emergency crash-landing on an alien planet. There is another derelict ship in which a massacre took place, and an alien force manifesting their deepest fears.
Recommended for those who don’t mind a bit of gore in their sci-fi. Be warned though it does contain sexual violence.
Number 07: Planet of the Vampires
Planet of the Vampires has influenced both the Bryan Singer X-men franchise and Alien.
Directed by cult horror icon Mario Bava, this is definitely a forgotten gem. Pay special attention to those uniforms.
As with Galaxy of Terror, this is another tale of a ship crash landing on an alien world.
Number 06: Battle Beyond the Stars
Roger Corman strikes again in this intergalactic remake of the Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai. Robert Vaughn, who appeared in the former film, also has an appearance in this intergalactic re-remake.
Battle Beyond the Stars is perhaps best remembered for its lewd spaceship design.
Number 05: Macross Do You Remember Love?
Most fans of the cartoon Robotech will know that it was made up of three Japanese anime shows reworked into a single narrative set over three generations. The first of these anime shows, which has had multiple continuations in Japan, is called Macross.
In Japan the original Macross series was later condensed into a single feature length film titled Macross Do You Remember Love? Sadly this is one of those anime releases that was heavily butchered when it was released to Western audiences. To this day it can be a real challenge finding a good version on blu-ray or DVD, however you should have no trouble finding a copy to watch online.
The story revolves around an alien race that is bred for war attacking Earth. The last line of defence is an alien ship that has been retrofitted and reverse engineered, as well as a pop singer whose music confuses the alien soldiers, leaving them vulnerable to attack. If using music as a weapon sounds familiar it’s probably because Star Trek Beyond lifted the concept, replacing J-pop with the Beastie Boys.
Due to its condensed narrative Macross DYRL can be a difficult starting point for people wanting to get into Macross or for casual viewers. The mecha designs and space battles are top notch though, and if you loved Robotech as a kid, you’ll probably love this just as much.
Number 04: The Ice Pirates
Remember Spaceballs? Of course you do, everyone remembers Spaceballs. But nobody remembers Ice Pirates, which I’d argue is the better film.
While most of the cast has been long since forgotten, Ron Pearlman can be seen in one of his earlier roles. In this one a group of intergalactic misfits who steal ice go on a series of misadventures after teaming up with a princess.
Closer in tone to Guardians of the Galaxy than Star Wars, this retro sci-fi comedy is often overlooked.
Number 03: Titan A.E
Before there was Serenity, Joss Whedon wrote a screenplay for a space adventure movie featuring Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore. Sadly it was a major box office bomb, resulting in the closure of Fox Animation Studios.
With animation by the immortal Don Bluth, Titan AE should have been an instant classic. It’s not that Titan AE is a bad film, more it was a victim of poor marketing. To this day it has yet to receive a blu-ray release.
The story begins with the Earth being blown up by an alien race and a rag tag crew setting out to find the one thing that could give humanity a new home. Visually this is probably the strongest film on the list; there are several scenes that are eye-wateringly gorgeous. If you ever get the chance to see this one on the big screen then it’s a must.
Number 02: Space Adventure Cobra
Released in the West with a cheesy dub and soundtrack by Yello, this was one of the big early releases by the now defunct Manga Entertainment.
The story revolves around Cobra, a legendary outlaw who crosses paths with the pirate guild, an intergalactic crime syndicate. Cobra is one part Bond, one part Han Solo.
As with Macross, physical copies of the film are hard to come by, but you’ll have no trouble finding a copy to stream.
Number 01: Dune
Taking out the number one spot is Dune. It might not be the most enjoyable film on the list but it’s by far the most ambitious. Given that it’s directed by David Lynch and has a star studded cast that includes names like Sting and Patrick Stewart, I am genuinely surprised that Dune is no longer remembered by mainstream audiences.
Based on the novel of the same name, Dune is a space epic in which rival galactic dynasties fight for control over a rare substance called Spice. The plot gets somewhat convoluted so it’s advisable to read the book or check out the made-for-TV adaptation to fill in the gaps.
So how did we do? There are plenty more obscure space adventure movies out there, ranging from Galaxy Quest to Dark City. In all honesty we could have had a top fifty. Hopefully you’ll find a few of these to be worth a look.
Oh so you’re a hipster who likes obscure titles? Check out this list of the 10 best obscure and underrated anime.