What Is Science Fiction?

Webster's dictionary defines science fiction as: fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.

"[Science Fiction] It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas," (Marg Gilks, Paula Fleming, and Moira Allen (2003). Science Fiction: The Literature of Ideas. WritingWorld.com. http://www.writing-world.com/sf/sf.shtml.)

The American Film Institute (AFI) describes science fiction thusly, "a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation. Whether it's a flying saucer whirling through space or a gleaming city on a distant planet, at the core of all science fiction is the provocative question, "What if...?" Science fiction presents stories and situations that tap our brightest hopes and darkest fears about what might, one day, turn out to be true," (FilmSite.org.)

Following is AFI's top ten science fiction films. Two of these films reside in our classical sci fi category: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956):

  • (1) 2001: A Space Odessey (1968)
  • (2) Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope (1977)
  • (3) E.T- The Extra Terrestrial (1)982
  • (4) A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • (5) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • (6) Blade Runner (1982)
  • (7) Alien (1979)
  • (8) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • (9) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • (10) Back to the Future (1985)

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

H.G. WellsClassic sci-fi movies website came into being due to my passion for movies in general, and science fiction in particular. As a child growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey in the '50s and '60s, I would watch our one black and white television set every chance I got (and that was quite often.)

But I have always loved all genres - including cartoons like Mighty Mouse, The Flintstones, Rocky &Bullwinkle, etc.

The type of movies (including TV shows) I watched at home in the '50s and early to mid '60s ranged from westerns like Bat Masterson and The Big Country to horror such as Frankenstein and Dracula. My father was a preacher and didn't allow us to go to the movies. It didn't matter if the show was a Disney animated feature or anything else - it was off limits.

I therefore don't know what it felt like going to a Saturday matinee or watching a sci fi drama on the big screen. So I watched melodramas, westerns, horror, and sci-fi on television.

Back in the '60s and early '70s, movies were hosted by shows like The Million Dollar Movie, Chiller Theater, and Creature Features.

The Million Dollar Movie showed melodramas such as I Remember Mama and Laura. But Creature Features and Chiller Theatre showed horror and sci-fic movies.

I literally grew up watching such sci-fi classics as Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invaders From Mars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and others. I also loved horror and scary movies like Dracula, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and Carnival of Souls.

Jules Verne Two authors in particular contributed heavily to the genre known as sci-fi or science fiction; they are Jules Verne (photo: right; 1829 - 1905) and H.G. Wells (photo: above; 1866 - 1946.) Their literary works were so popular that many were made into feature length movies.

The works of Jules Verne that became successful sci-fi movies are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959.)

H.G. Wells' works that were made into sci-fi movies are: The Time Machine (1960), The Invisible Man (1933), The War of the Worlds (1953), and First Men in the Moon (1963.)

Creature Features

This show was aired in the New York metropolitan market on WNEW channel 5. Creature Features was hosted by Lou Steele also known as "The Creep."

In what was a test run, Creature Features ran from July to August, 1969. It became very popular and was run regularly from November, 1969 to August, 1973. However, due to competition from WPIX's Chiller Theatre and poor ratings, Creature Features was cancelled.

Chiller Theatre

Chiller Theatre hosted many of the memorable sci fi and scary movies of my early years. In the New York metropolitan area, it was broadcast on WPIX channel 11. Chiller Theatre aired in 1961 and 1963 and hosted by Zacherley, "The Cool Ghoul".

By 1965, Zacherley was gone. He wasn't replaced and Chiller Theatre opened with a montage of movie clips from '50s sci fi films.

Air time was usually Saturday night at 8PM.

Million Dollar Movie

Million Dollar Movie was aired on WOR-TV channel 9 beginning in 1954; it was created to fill in the time slot after the baseball season had ended. Some sci fi movies aired were Invaders From Mars, King Kong, and The Crawling Eye.

Classic Sci-Fi Movies of the '50s & '60s. © 2011 - 2014. All rights reserved.



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Share your memories and thoughts of '50s sci-fi classics and its era. All selected will be posted on this site. Email stories here. Isn't nostalgia wonderful?



























1950

Rocketship X-M
Destination Moon

1951

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Flight to Mars
The Man From Planet X
The Thing From Another World
When Worlds Collide

1952

Red Planet Mars
Radar Men from the Moon

1953

The Magnetic Monster
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Cat Woman of the Moon
Donovan's Brain
It Came from Outer Space
Invaders from Mars
Robot Monster
War of the Worlds

1954

Gog
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Creature From the Black Lagoon
Them!
The Rocker Man
This Island Earth

1955

Beast with a Million Eyes
Conquest of Space
The Creeping Unknown
Tarantula

1956

World Without End
The Mole People
It Conquered the World
The Day the World Ended
Earth vs the Flying Saucers
Fire Maidens from Outer Space
Forbidden Planet
Godzilla King of the Monsters
Invasion of the Body Snatchers

1957

The Amazing Colossal Man
20 Million Miles to Earth
The 27th Day
Beginning of the End
The Black Scorpion
The Cyclops
Deadly Mantis
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Invasion of the Saucer Men
I was a Teenage Werewolf
The Monolith Monsters
The Monster that Challenged the World
Night of the Demon
Teenage Zombies

1958

H Man
The Lost Missile
Night of the Blood Beast
Teenage Cavemen
Terror from the Year 5,000
The Thing that couldn't Die
War of the Colossal Beast
Attack of the 50 Ft Woman
The Blob
The Crawling Eye
Earth vs. the Spider
The Fly
I Married a Monster from Outer Space
IT! The Terror from Beyond Space
Monster on the Campus
Plan 9 from Outer Space
Queen from Outer Space
Revenge of Frankenstein
The Screaming Skull
The Space Children

1959

Eyes Without a Face
4D Man
The Alligator People
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Attack of the Giant Leeches
Battle in Outer Space
The Brain that wouldn't Die
The Cosmic Man
First Man Into Space
First Spaceship to Venus
The Giant Gila Monster
The Giant Behemoth
Journey to the Center of Earth
The Killer Shrews
Return of the Fly
Teenagers from Outer Space
World, the Flesh & the Devil

1960

The Leech Woman
Twelve to the Moon
The Amazing Transparent Man
Angry Red Planet
Village of the Damned
The Time Machine
The Wasp Woman

1961

Creature from the Haunted Sea
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
Gorgo
The Phantom Planet

1962

Carnival of Souls
The Day Mars Invaded the Earth
The Underwater City
Brainiac
Journey to the 7th Planet
Panic In Year Zero

1963

Crawling Hand
Invasion of the Vampires
Atom Age Vampire
The Birds
Children of the Damned
The Man with the X-Ray Eyes
The Terror

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