Horror films have a storied history, beginning in the silent era with stars like Lon Chaney and Max Schreck up until present-day hits like Get Out. Audiences can’t get enough scary cinema. And a common theme running throughout the horror genre?
Think about it: high tech and horror go together like tricks and treats. History’s horror catalog is filled with countless mad scientists, killer robots, and imaginative technologies that come with unintended — not to mention terrifying — consequences.
So armed with a bucket of popcorn, we decided to combine our love for technology (we’re an AV Company after all) and horror films to find out which ones deliver the biggest tech scares.
Fair warning: this isn’t a list of family-friendly flicks. Many of these are down-and-out, shock-and-awe, blood-and-gore horror films so use discretion if you’re screening around young ghosts and goblins.
1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
In the sequel to Whale’s own 1931 classic, Frankenstein, a new mad scientist, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), shows up to continue Dr. Frankenstein’s work, who now wants nothing to do with his disastrous experiments. Pretorius finds The Monster (Boris Karloff) and promises him a mate.
What unfolds is an amalgam of creepy imagery, religious symbolism, and psychological games, as you realize, despite his brutality, The Monster is a deeply sympathetic character. Pretorius eventually does create a mate for The Monster — The Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester) — and you guessed it: it doesn’t end well.
2. Fiend Without a Face (1958)
The constant outpouring of nuclear power from a U.S. Air Force test facility causes one of the neighboring town’s retired scientists, R. E. Walgate (Kynaston Reeves), to covertly reroute some of the power to his own lab, where he’s secretly conducting telekinesis experiments.
Through these experiments, Walgate ends up inadvertently creating a race of invisible “thought” monsters that attack the townspeople and suck out their brains in order to multiply. These creatures are completely invisible for much of the film until they finally appear as slimy brains that slither around via their attached spinal cords. Suspenseful with an incredibly high “ick” factor, this horror movie is a fantastic watch.
3. From Beyond (1986)
Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), develop a device called the Resonator, which emits a frequency that enlarges the brain’s pineal gland allowing those within range to see a reality beyond normal human perception.
Pretorius becomes obsessed with the machine’s power and crosses over into a parallel dimension, leaving his lifeless physical body behind. Tillinghast and a new scientist, Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton), conduct further research on the Resonator to discover what happened. What unfolds is a series of grotesque sequences and haunting visuals that scream 1986.
4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), the owner of a Halloween mask manufacturer, is gearing up for his biggest sale of the year. Meanwhile, Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) is investigating a mysterious death that seems to be connected to the masks.
Unfortunately, detailing the technological aspects of the plot would spoil it for you, so you’ll just have to watch it. I promise it’ll surprise you.
Though audiences disliked this when it was released (mainly due to the fact that it didn’t have anything to do with the series’ iconic antagonist, Michael Myers), it’s a uniquely interesting take on the .
5. The Fly (1986)
This remake of the 1958 classic film is centered around Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), an eccentric scientist who is in the process of building a set of telepods capable of instantaneous teleportation. Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), a science journalist, is invited to Brundle’s lab to document his process.
After several attempts with inanimate objects and animals, Brundle is convinced the telepods are ready for human trial and uses himself as the guinea pig, not realizing that a housefly snuck into the pod prior to the experiment. Brundle’s human DNA and the fly’s DNA become intertwined, and we witness his methodical and eventual transition into a human-fly hybrid.
Combining impressive effects with humorous and compelling performances, this film is a modern sci-fi horror classic and an absolute must-watch.
6. Pulse (2001)
Several people in Tokyo discover ghosts entering the living world — and consuming lives — via the internet. Well, that’s the simple explanation. Kurosawa weaves a complex narrative with a lot of plot points happening beyond what we see on the screen.
The themes of death, suicide, depression, love, isolation, despair, and hope are all present in the film. Let’s put it this way: this film will sit with you for a while. It’s easily one of the creepiest and most compelling horror films made in the last 20 years.
7. Ghost in the Machine (1993)
Karl Hopkins (Ted Marcoux), a serial killer and local computer technician — because hey, even murderers need a day job — is hunting down his next victims when he crashes his car in a storm. While undergoing an MRI, a lightning surge transforms his mind into electrical energy, which he then uses to continue his reign of terror, infiltrating electrical grids and computer networks to kill.
Even with this cringeworthy, trainwreck of a horror flick — featuring a ‘90s view of the most overblown ideas of what tech of the future could look like — you might still, after watching, be a little hesitant to microwave that popcorn.
8. How to Make a Monster (2001)
The return of the deadly power surge. (Has anyone in these films ever heard of a surge protector? Just wondering.) This time, a lightning strike and an AI chip bring a frightening video game, Evilution, to life. Crafted for a new level of terror by three renowned game designers, the monstrous — and now real-life — game confines the developers alone in a building and targets them as prey.
A video game-themed storytelling of what could happen when your creation turns against you, this film ranks pretty high on the cheesiness factor but is a good pick for when you don’t want your horror getting too heavy.
9. Alien (1979)
Though this timeless sci-fi horror film primarily deals with the eponymous “alien,” one of the most chilling and unexpected parts of this thriller is the reveal of the AI character. For those of you who still haven’t seen it, we won’t give away exactly who it is. But trust me, it’s a solid twist.
After a commercial resource-gathering mission, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the crew of the spaceship Nostromo are returning to Earth when they intercept a distress call from the planetoid, LV-426. And that’s when the excrement starts hitting the fan at a methodical and spine-shivering pace.
The film does an immaculate job of familiarizing the audience with the social environment of the Nostromo crew, so when the android character is made known, it’s a very effective reveal. If you haven’t seen it already, do it. It’s a classic for a reason.
Well, there you have it: 9 fun tech horror movies to watch this Halloween. Sink your claws into as many of these films as you like, and let us know if we’ve missed one of your horror cinema favorites.
Here’s wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween!
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