Science-fiction movies were not a new commodity in the 1970s, but the decade was extremely important for the genre. Following 2001: A Space Odyssey a few years earlier, the 70s was a time when chances could be taken with sci-fi and new ground was broken with films like Star Wars and Alien.
Not all sci-fi films of the 70s have the stellar reputations of those iconic movies. There are plenty of lesser-known sci-fi films that never got the recognition they deserve. And there are also those films whose reputation is maybe more generous than the film deserves. Here are the most underrated and overrated sci-fi films of the 70s.
10 Underrated: Rollerball
A science-fiction sports film is a unique concept but Rollerball manages to handle both aspects in a compelling way. The film is set in a corporate-controlled society where the main entertainment is a brutal and violent sport in which no man is meant to succeed.
The movie incorporates interesting science-fiction elements while also commenting on modern society. It made for a successful film but it has been somewhat lost over the years. But it remains one of the decades best.
9 Overrated: Death Race 2000
Death Race 2000 is another film that deals with a futuristic society where a deadly sport is the obsession of many. The titular Death Race is an event in which drivers participate in a cross-country road race that is known for its death and mayhem.
The film was an early Roger Corman production and starred the likes of David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. It is certainly a fun and wild film, but it just doesn't feel as complete a movie as some of the others from the decade. Besides the great car sequences, there's not a lot there.
8 Underrated: Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes
The Planet of the Apes franchise is one of the most iconic sci-fi series of all-time. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was the fourth film in the series and served as a prequel to the original film. It tells the story of Caesar, an ape who rose up and led the enslaved apes to rebellion over the humans.
Despite being a thrilling and fun adventure, the movie just doesn't get hardly any recognition today. The original film is really the only film from the original series that is talked about but this is a great inclusion in the franchise and worth checking out for fans of the new series of films.
7 Overrated: Mad Max
Mad Max was George Miller's first journey into the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland in the series that would define his directing career. It was also the film that introduced Mel Gibson to the world. Gibson stars as the titular Max, a road cop who seeks revenge on the biker gang who murdered his family in the lawless wasteland.
Don't get us wrong, Mad Max is a great movie. The only problem with the film is that it really doesn't hold up to the films that follow. The Road Warrior and Fury Road are such action-heavy and insane sequels that the original feels a little dull in comparison.
6 Underrated: The Man Who Fell To Earth
David Bowie is obviously best known for his stunning music career, but he was also a very fine actor, appearing in a number of films in his life. The Man Who Fell to Earth is one of his rare starring roles and is the perfect vehicle for him.
Bowie plays an alien who comes to Earth and poses as a human in order to collect resources to save his dying planet. However, he runs into several complications as he learns more about humans. It is a quiet and interesting film that is still not known by many fans even following Bowie's death a few years ago.
5 Overrated: Rocky Horror Picture Show
Rocky Horror Picture Show is a movie that is hard to categorize. But along with being a musical and horror film, it certainly does have a lot of science-fiction elements. The movie was certainly not a hit at the time of its release but has since gone on to iconic status thanks to screenings with audience participation.
As fun as those screenings might be, that has more to do with the audience rather than the film itself, which is pretty bad. Aside from Tim Curry's excellent performance, the movie is a dull, confused and tedious mess.
4 Underrated: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Science-fiction remakes are a hard thing to get right, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of those rare remakes that may, in fact, improve on the original. The movie centers on an alien invasion in which mysterious pods are producing beings who replicate the residents of a small town.
Though the film was well-received at its time, this film should really be considered among the genre's best of all time. It is a paranoid, creepy and unsettling film with an amazing cast and one of the best twist endings ever.
3 Overrated: Westworld
Thanks to the HBO series of the same name, there is probably a lot of renewed interest in the original Westworld. The film is set in a futuristic Old West theme park where a robot malfunctions and begins hunting the guests.
Anyone who is looking for the nuance and complex storylines of the show should look elsewhere. The movie is a very straightforward thriller about a robot cowboy hunting people. The show, Jurassic Park and Terminator all did a better job with what this film is trying to achieve.
2 Underrated: Silent Running
Silent Running might be the most overlooked film on this list and it remains one of the decades hidden gems. The story is set in a future where all Earth's plant life is destroyed. An astronaut (Bruce Dern) is ordered to destroy the remaining botany that is being kept alive on a space station, but he decides to rebel.
The movie is not big-budget epic like some other films in the genre. Instead, it is a quiet and thoughtful drama with a great central performance from Dern. It is a great example of the rich stories that can be told in the sci-fi genre.
1 Overrated: Moonraker
James Bond films are often looked back on with a lot of reverence. Though some entries in the long-running series don't deserve such a generous look back. Moonraker finds Roger Moore's 007 taking on a madman who has hijacked a space shuttle.
Moore's time as Bond features a lot of silliness, but it worked in some cases. However, Moonraker doesn't even feel like a Bond film at times. Since its release, fans of the series have embraced it as misunderstood, but the reality is that it is an embarrassing inclusion on the iconic franchise.