Despite the genre’s outsized reputation for maddening twists and turns, a lot of sci-fi is surprisingly straightforward.
Star Wars, for example, follows the story beats of a classic hero’s journey story to a tee, and its simple narrative could as easily take place in a fantasy setting. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, it’s still one of the genre’s most beloved franchises.
Even the likes of Blade Runner, whilst its world building may initially be confusing, is actually a fairly standard film noir with a sci-fi inflected hyper modern sheen thrown over proceedings.
Then there are these films, the sci-fi flicks so strange that they barely even fit the genre descriptor. Often underrated and unheralded even amongst fans of the genre, these efforts are so strange that they defy description, with some of the flicks listed here being intense thrill rides, some being slow and thoughtful existential meditations, but all twelve of them being classic sci-fi headf***s for the ages.
12. Twelve Monkeys
Winning the mantle of Monty Python member Terry Gilliam’s “most mind warping movie” is not an easy feat given the filmmaker’s many, many oddball cinematic experiments (salute to the underrated likes of 2006’s Tideland).
But despite a starry cast and mainstream budget, time travel is such a head melting trip in his asylum-set 1995 flick Twelve Monkeys that this Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis starring head-melter takes the title nonetheless.
The subject of a recent, surprisingly decent TV revival, this surreal trip won’t be for everyone, but anyone willing to decipher its twisty narrative will be rewarded with a stone cold psychedelic sci-fi classic.