One? Damn – there are lots of them most people haven’t heard of.
It! The Terror from Beyond Space – 1950s epic by Jerome Bixby*. They absolutely stole the plot of Alien from this film**. Made on a low budget. Some of the things are hilariously outdated (The women in the crew are the ones who serve the food and coffee – but at least there are female crewmembers. The ship also carries guns and grenades. And they smoke cigarettes on board), but overall it’s till a good piece of work.
The Lost Missile – another 1950s Bixby film, about a missile from an undisclosed country (pretty obviously Russia) that goes astray and threatens to destroy things.
Panic in Year Zero – LA gets nuked, and Ray Milland and his family are lucky enough to be out of town at the time. They see the mushroom cloud and realize that Things Have Changed. It becomes a story about survival, with some nonobvious questions – how do you cross a line of traffic of panicked people escaping the city? --answered. This film feels to me like a Heinlkein short story, although he had nothing to do with it.
Quatermass 2 (AKA enemy from Space) – movie adatation of the second of Nigel Kneale’s “Quatermass” BBC serials. My only complaint is that they broughnt in American actor Brian Donleavy to play Quatermass (as they did in the first “Quatermass” film), and he talks and acts more like an American gangster than a British rocketry scientist. I stumbled across this late at night the first time I saw it, and had to sit through to the end.
Quatermass and the Pit (AKA Five Million Years to Earth***) They finally got someone appropriate (Edward Kier) to play Quatermass in this, arguably the best in the series. Shot in color, too. It addresses the same themes as 2001: A Space Odyssey (which came out the same year, 1968) – aliens influenced man’s development through artifacts they left behind.
Creation of the Humanoids – badly acted SF drama, and dated now, too. But it has some very interesting ideas and things to say about humans and how they relate to human-shaped robots.
Creator – a favorite of mine. Peter O’Toole plays a Nobel Laureate at a University Medical College (which seems to be in California somewhere) who is trying to clone his deceased wife. Utterly unlike any other movie about clones you’ve ever seen. It’s witty and fascinating. With Mariel Hemingway, Vincent Spano, Virginia Madsen, and David Ogden Stiers. Science Fiction with no special effects. But it’s the only movie I’ve seen where the Grad School looks and feels like grad school, right down to the Pauline Barnes Tolkien poster on the lab wall.
*Jerome Bixby was a 1950s SF writer of short stories and of movie scripts. His most familiar works are probably the story It’s a GOOD Life, about the little boy who can work miracles with his mind. It was made into one of the more chilling episodes of the original Twilight Zone. He also rewrote the screenplay for Fantastic Voyage. His films also include the 1950s Curse of the Faceless Man, a sort of weird take oin a “Mummy” movie, and the 1990s film The Man from Earth, which is interesting and overlooked, but overly talky.
** The Monster gets on board when they visit a planet. It stays in the shadows and gets around through the ventilation ducts. It picks off the crew one-by-one and the kill it by opening the airlock. It! actually makes a lot more sense than Alien – the creature kills its victims by draining them of water, which it needs, being from a very dry planet. It chases them from one end of the traditional cigar-shaped ship to the other. They ultimate kill it by suffocating it (having observed that it uses a lot of air), not by simply blowing it out the airlock. And, to answer those who claim that Bixby simply rippedc off A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer – gp back and read it again. The only similarity is “Alien Monster on a Space Ship” The plots and motivations are wholly different.
*** The first Quatermass film is overlooked and worthwhile, too. The Quatermass Xperiment, realeased in the US as The Creeping Unknown. The fourth film isn’t worth watching. There have been numerous remakes since, but I haven’t seen these. The American title of the third film looks like a deliberate attempt to make people cons=fuse it with the Ray Harryhausen film Twenty Million Miles to Earth.