The 1990s were something of a Golden Age for big-budget Sci-Fi movies. Before superheroes conquered the blockbuster scene, screens were filled with killer robots, alien invasions, and in-over-their-head heroes.
But for every Matrix or Independence Day, there were other films that fell by the wayside as time passed. Films just as good, but that have remained underrated for whatever reason. Maybe they were too weird and experimental, or maybe just too ahead of their time. But we are determined not to let these lost gems stay that way. Pop some popcorn and hack the planet with these 10 Sci-Fi Masterpieces you've probably never seen.
10 Galaxy Quest (1999)
The resurgence of Star Trek on TV thanks to The Next Generation is an under-appreciated aspect of 90s Sci-Fi. So it seemed the perfect time for a skewering of that legendary property with this clever comedy. But while Galaxy Quest didn't connect much with mainstream audiences, it became a cult classic almost immediately.
Fans love it for its hilarious script and sincere love of Trek. But even if you don't like Star Trek, Galaxy Quest still has amazing effects for a comedy, laugh out loud jokes, and a great cast including sci-fi legend Sigourney Weaver.
9 The Rocketeer (1991)
Disney's attempts at Sci-Fi have always been hit or miss, but those who've seen this film agree it's a hit. A retro-futuristic Indiana Jones-style adventure, The Rocketeer follows a young stuntman in 30s Hollywood who finds a jetpack and becomes a Nazi-fighting hero.
The film's tone is what separates it from its 90s Sci-Fi brethren. Light-hearted and optimistic, it's almost a spiritual prequel to director Joe Johnston's later Captain America: The First Avenger. The Rocketeer might be old-fashioned, but its fun is timeless.
8 Dark City (1998)
You can't do a list of underrated 90s Sci-Fi and not include Dark City. This movie has so much going for it besides just its incredible production design. The titular city is a shadowy labyrinth of buildings and pipes that would make Batman's Gotham jealous.
A twisting, mind-bending mystery plot that keeps audiences on edge. As soon as you think you know what's happening, the film throws you another curveball. With a cast that includes Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland, and Ed Harris you should definitely give it a watch. You won't regret it.
7 The City Of Lost Children (1995)
Steampunk before Steampunk was cool, The City of Lost Children might be a hard sell for some. It's French, first of all, and can delve into some pretty bizarre imagery at times. Like the talking brain in a jar on a wheelchair.
But give it a chance and it's enchanting. Featuring a pre-Hellboy Ron Perlman as a circus strongman helping a little girl rescue her baby brother from a mad scientist, there's a very sweet heart beneath all the weirdness. You won't soon forget this odd fable.
6 The Faculty (1998)
At first glance, The Faculty might just seem like a teenage riff on Invasion of The Body Snatchers. Which it is, with evil aliens taking over the bodies of a high school faculty and then their students.
But that riff comes courtesy of a young Robert Rodriguez, with all the punk energy he'd later put into Sin City and Machete. The cast of 90s teen stalwarts like Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett only adds to the experience. Honestly, The Faculty is worth watching just to see what Jon Stewart was up to before The Daily Show.
5 eXistenZ (1999)
David Cronenberg is no stranger to weirdo Sci-Fi masterpieces. This is the guy who brought us The Fly after all. But eXistenZ, essentially his follow-up to Videodrome, might be his last great swing at body horror. On the surface an examination of video games, the film soon reveals itself as reality-shifting, mind-bending experience.
It forces audiences to ask where the game ends and where reality begins, and if that even matters. With gaming becoming more pervasive every year, eXistenZ remains more prescient than ever.
4 Tremors (1990)
Like many series than spawn numerous sequels of diminishing quality, it's easy to forget that the original Tremors is a darn good little movie. Centered around a small Nevada desert town under siege from man-eating underground worms, it's smart about how it uses a silly premise.
The cast is small and likable, it never bends or breaks the rules about how the worms work, and uses them effectively as antagonists even when they aren't on screen. Plus Kevin Bacon is in it! Yeah, it's a lark, but it's a fun lark.
3 Gattaca (1997)
We're betting that, if you have seen this, you watched this in your High School biology class. If not, Gattaca is old-school social sci-fi. No big action, just ideas, but it's no less interesting. Gattaca shows a world where "designer babies" have led to a stratified society and Ethan Hawke's Vincent Freeman must game the system to achieve his dream.
Hawke's character becomes a murder suspect and seeing him keep his secret identity hidden provides more than enough drama. Throw in Jude Law and Uma Thurman, and you've got a thought experiment worth thinking about.
2 Hardware (1990)
Almost more horror than science fiction, Hardware is certainly frightening. The first film of eccentric director Richard Stanley, the plot revolves around the remains of a warrior robot given to a sculptor in a post-apocalyptic future. The sculptor turns the robot into her latest art piece, until it reactivates and attempts to kill her.
Claustrophobic and disorienting, Hardware gives the viewer of being trapped alongside our protagonist with this metal murder machine. The robot's unique design makes it all the more memorable.
1 Strange Days (1995)
The most underrated of underrated 90s Sci-Fi masterpieces. Directed by The Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow, Strange Days is a cyberpunkish neo-noir that interrogates internet doppelgangers and simulations before those things even existed.
Ralph Fiennes is Lenny Nero, a dealer of illegal VR experiences, who ends up in the middle of a conspiracy involving police violence, rappers, and a series of brutal murders all in the middle of New Year's Eve. It's a movie that asks how we can tell what's true in a world where truth is subjective. More than any other movie on this list, Strange Days saw the world that was coming.