It’s been a while since I gave some ideas for people to watch and I’m kind of amazed I’ve never done a science fiction list! My investigations didn’t result in a huge amount of options, but I think I got the best of the bunch. The list is mainly sci-fi films, with a couple of standalone TV episodes and one short docuseries.
Rocky Horror (1975)
An all-time classic. Dr Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) is crafting a man with blonde hair and a tan in order to relieve his ten… sion. It all goes wrong when Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) and Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) arrive after their car gets a flat nearby.
Tim Curry is just iconic in the role and the movie has a brilliant soundtrack too. I often give that a re-listen.
If there’s a production of the live show on near you, go. They can’t do Tim Curry (who can) but they’ll give you a fun night out.
V for Vendetta (2005)
My favourite Alan Moore book, with beautiful art from David Lloyd, and it gets my favourite adaptation too. It tells the story of the vigilante V who is fighting against a fascist regime in the UK. During its rise to power, the regime targeted minorities, who were arrested and taken to camps.
Showing the human side of the horror, the film includes the story of Valerie Page (Natasha Wightman) who has been imprisoned for her sexuality. She tells of her life before being taken and finding love with another woman. It includes the sad but defiant line: “It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one.”
The movie also features Stephen Fry as a closeted TV presenter.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
A polarising production amongst critics, the film jumps across eras as each story is resolved.
The 1936 era, set in Cambridge and Edinburgh, sees Ben Whishaw as Robert Frobisher, a bisexual composer, who goes to work for ageing composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). While working for Ayrs, Frobisher composes his own masterpiece ‘The Cloud Atlas Sextet’.
Ayrs demands credit for the sextet, threatening to reveal Frobisher’s bisexuality. Frobisher shoots and wounds Ayrs before fleeing.
He finishes the piece but takes his life before his lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) arrives. The characters’ stories connect with later happenings in the film.
This sci-fi short film, starring Alex Hammond, Anthony Topham and Tia Kenny, portrays a family torn apart by a world-ending event as people are being evacuated from the planet.
Children are the only ones being sent to the new worlds that have been found. However, only rich kids are getting the tickets. Two gay dads decide to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the survival of their daughter.
‘San Junipero’ (2016)
One of the sci-fi TV show picks, although I see most Black Mirror episodes as short films as they are mainly standalone. This one is Season 3, Episode 4.
In 1987, in a seaside town called San Junipero, a shy woman named Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and an outgoing party girl named Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) strike up a powerful bond. San Junipero isn’t exactly as it seems, though.
I’m not going to spoil the plot as I want readers to enjoy this the way I did. I loved it instantly with its ’80s setting (they got it so right) but it also tells a beautiful love story.
Both actors are wonderful in their respective roles. A somewhat grim ending is assumed with Black Mirror – don’t assume that here. Great soundtrack too.
‘Striking Vipers’ (2019)
Another Black Mirror episode, it follows two old friends, Danny Parker (Anthony Mackie) and Karl Houghton (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), reconnecting over a virtual reality fighting game.
As they did when they were younger, Danny plays as a male character named Lance (Ludi Lin) and Karl plays as a female character named Roxette (Pom Klementieff). They begin having virtual sex in the game, which affects Danny’s marriage with Theo (Nicole Beharie).
The story raises more questions than it answers but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. I’m still up in the air on where I fall on this one, but think it’s worth a watch.
FATHERS Project (2020)
When I heard about FATHERS Project (thanks to the Bad Gays podcast), I was intrigued. Artist Leo Herrera has created a sci-fi docuseries to answer a heartbreaking, thrilling, impossible question: What would our world be like if AIDS had never happened?
Set in 2020, the docuseries looks back and shows what generations of queer people have created, a utopia called “Stonewall Nation”, a series of communes across the United States. That particular idea, as with most of the series, is bedded somewhat in reality as there was a proposed project like this in the 1970s. (There’s actually an interesting Masters’s thesis on that particular theme for those interested in learning more: Gay Outlaws: The Alpine County Project Reconsidered.)
The name of the project came from the fact that Herrera would pray to his “Gayngels” or “Fathers who art in Heaven” for inspiration, the “Gayngels” being Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, Sylvester, Halston and Vito Russo. Herrera started his research for the project with these men.
That concludes this list of sci-fi production for you to check out! As always, hit me up with any films I may have missed.
If you want to check out more of David Ferguson’s content, read his previous GCN pieces here.
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