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50 Greatest Science-Fiction Movies of All Time

50) 'The Quatermass Xperiment' (1955)

Also known by the somewhat more evocative title "The Creeping Unknown," this is one of several films centered on the gruff, obsessive scientist Professor Bernard Quatermass, expert on all things outer space. When a rocket returns to Earth from a mission Quatermass spearheaded, one of its astronauts is particularly unwell. Turns out he's infected by an alien, who -- surprise -- wants to conquer Earth and kill and eat all the humans on it. Our scientist "hero" has to put aside his natural curiosity about the new being in order to capture it. The low-budget British film plays like a bleak thriller, and American character actor Brian Donlevy's tough, dispassionate portrayal of Quatermass is one of the more distinctive characterizations in all of sci-fi cinema. Hardly the most elaborate sci-fi picture in terms of effects, but juicy stuff nonetheless.

(Mary Evans Picture Library/Courtesy Everett Collection)