The Major Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Anniversaries of Autumn 2021

The Major Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Anniversaries of Autumn 2021
Bowie, Loki, Thor, Marion. (Image: BLF, Marvel, Paramount)

Let’s face it. We’re all old. Even if that’s not technically true, there’s always something a person can say or do to make you feel that way. One of those is when we realise a movie we feel an affinity for is way older than we remember it being. The best course of action? Use the fact that your favourite movie is about to celebrate a landmark anniversary and watch it again!

We’ve collected a slew of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films celebrating some big anniversaries this year. You’ll probably see us highlighting a few of them individually as the year goes on — in fact, you’ll find two examples at these links — but for now, take a look and bask in the nostalgia.

Below, we’ve got all the significant movie anniversaries (in Gizmodo’s coverage areas, naturally) coming up in April, May, and June. We’ll be sharing more soon but for now, take some time to make a new watchlist for yourself.

1961 – 60 Year Anniversaries

Atlantis, The Lost Continent. (Image: TCM) Atlantis, The Lost Continent. (Image: TCM)

Atlantis, the Lost Continent (May 3) – Not exactly a beloved film but when any high concept genre film is celebrating 60 years, you’ve gotta give it its due. George Pal directed this tale of how Atlantis sunk into the sea which, at the time especially, was criticised for using stock footage from bigger, better movies.

1971 – 50 Year Anniversaries

Willy Wonka (Photo: Paramount) Willy Wonka (Photo: Paramount)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (May 21) – The third Planet of the Apes film is generally considered to be one of the best, as it follows apes who escape their planet only to get stuck in a time warp and sent to the past, which just so happens to be the present of the film’s release. A genius idea that plays out in some fascinating ways.

Willard (June 18) – Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the creepiest. Take, for example, Willard, about a young man who befriends a bunch of rats and tries to control them. It’s not the best film but the sight of all those rats doing all different things never leaves you. It was remade in 2003 with Crispin Glover in the lead role.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (June 30) – Though it may be the biggest anniversary on this list, 50 years ago, Willy Wonka was not a hit at the box office. (Willard outgrossed it easily.) But screenings on television, home video, and more have grown this film into an all-time classic that’s more popular now than it’s ever been.

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1976 – 45 Year Anniversaries

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Photo: British Lion Film) The Man Who Fell to Earth (Photo: British Lion Film)

The Man Who Fell to Earth (May 28) – David Bowie is, rightfully, best known for his eclectic, sensational music career. However, he gained even more God-like status by starring in this sci-fi film as an alien hoping Earth can save his people, and finds anything but. It’s a dense, weird, excellent movie and a new TV show based on it is currently in the works starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomie Harris, and Clarke Peters.

Logan’s Run (June 23) – Lucky you, we already wrote about the wonder that is Logan’s Run and you can read it here.

1981 – 40 Year Anniversaries

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Photo: Paramount) Raiders of the Lost Ark (Photo: Paramount)

Friday the 13th Part 2 (May 1) – Since Jason isn’t the killer in part one, that means this year brings the actual 40th anniversary of the grown Jason Voorhees. And we all love Jason, don’t we?

The Burning (May 8) – Opening a week after Friday the 13th, this similar, nature-set slasher film fizzed upon release. But in the years that followed, the star-studded cast, and ultra gory kills have turned The Burning into a staple of the genre.

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Clash of the Titans (June 12) – The final film in the career of effects legend Ray Harryhausen, Clash of the Titans is high-adventure fantasy done right, at least for the time. The practical effects are excellent and the cast knows exactly what kind of over-the-top, wild movie they’re in.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (June 12) – The first Indiana Jones film is incredible for so many reasons. It’s fun, funny, exciting, the story is excellent, etc. But what I can’t get over is the expectations fans must have felt when the men behind Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Star Wars teamed up to create a new hero. It not just delivered on expectations, it was so good it lives on to this day.

Superman II (June 19) – Before there was Justice League, there was Superman II. This epic superhero sequel was plagued by behind-the-scenes controversies that needed large pieces reshot and, later, had a version released by the original director (in that case Zack Snyder, in this Richard Donner). All of which is interesting but also it’s the Superman film that featured Terrence Stamp as General Zod — that’s straight-up iconic.

Dragonslayer (June 26) – These days, humans fighting and riding huge dragons on screen is pretty standard. But in 1981, it was not, and that’s a big part of why Dragonslayer cemented itself in the hearts and minds of anyone growing up in the era. It’s a little dated now, but that’s also part of the charm.

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Also: Excalibur (April 10), The Howling (April 10), For Your Eyes Only (June 26), The Great Muppet Caper (June 26)

1986 – 35 Year Anniversaries

Short Circuit (Photo: Sony) Short Circuit (Photo: Sony)

Critters (April 11) – To this day, if I see a round, black object somewhere, I think of Critters. This goofy yet scary horror film about little furry creatures that will eat you creeped me out for years simply because it felt more realistic than Gremlins. It’s not, of course, but considering several sequels were made, it probably means I’m not the only one.

Short Circuit (May 9) – A robot becomes self-aware in this hugely successful comedy that was everywhere when it was released. In the years since, the fact that it features a white man playing a highly-offensive depiction of a person of colour has overshadowed that, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, Johnny 5 is alive will still hold nostalgia for many.

SpaceCamp (June 6) – We love SpaceCamp so much we wrote about it five years ago on its 30th anniversary. You can read it right here.

Also: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (May 11), Top Gun (May 16), Poltergeist 2 (May 23), The Karate Kid Part II (June 2) (Several of those aren’t exactly Gizmodo but come on, who doesn’t love em?)

1991 – 30 Year Anniversaries

The Rocketeer  (Photo: Disney) The Rocketeer (Photo: Disney)

Drop Dead Fred (April 19) – Speaking of films that creeped me out growing up, Drop Dead Fred is another. Oh sure, it’s merely the story of a woman whose imaginary friend from childhood never leaves. But that dude was creepy AF and I’m not sure I ever got over it.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (June 14) – Every generation has their Robin Hood. Errol Flynn, Sean Connery, a British fox, Taron Egerton, etc. If you grew up in the 1990s though, your Robin was Kevin Costner in this epic, excellent retelling of the classic Robin story. For our money, still one of the best Robin films ever.

The Rocketeer (June 21) – If The Rocketeer was released in 2021, it would be a massive hit. The nostalgia, spectacle, and optimism fans have come to crave in their blockbusters is all right here in this excellent origin story of a man who uses a special rocket pack to fight Nazis. Just a fantastic movie. Rewatch it if you haven’t in a while.

1996 – 25 Year Anniversaries

Twister (Photo: Warner Bros.) Twister (Photo: Warner Bros.)

The Craft (May 3) – Even today, it’s rare to see movies starring a bunch of young women that aren’t specifically about love. The Craft was that, 25 years ago, and while there’s certainly some romance in there, the bonds and rivalries between these young witches struck a chord that reverberates to this day. (Blumhouse recently made a sequel.)

Barb Wire (May 3) – I was 16 years old when Barb Wire came out. It starred Pamela Anderson. Suffice to say, I was a fan of Barb Wire for reasons beyond the comic book adaptation being pretty lame and exploitive.

Twister (May 10) – Talk about a disaster movie touched by the finger of God. A fantastic cast, a great score, incredible effects and direction, all add up to one of the best disaster movies of the era. Here’s some more on this modern classic:

Mission: Impossible (May 22) – Can you believe a quarter of a century has passed and this Tom Cruise franchise is not just still going, but getting better with each and every instalment? Brian DePalma’s original feels different from the newer films, but it’s still tense, propulsive, and awesome.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (June 21) – Hunchback is probably the end of Disney Animation’s renaissance of the 1990s but the animation is completely mind-blowing and the songs very much hold up, though they aren’t as popular as the filmmakers probably hoped.

The Nutty Professor (June 28) – “Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!” Eddie Murphy’s transition into more family comedy began with this special effects-heavy remake that was beyond popular when it was released. It was everywhere, and rightfully so. It’s very weird, gross and funny.

Also: Sabrina the Teenage Witch (April 7), James and the Giant Peach (April 12), Mystery Science Theatres 3000: The Movie (April 19), Dragonheart (May 31), The Arrival (May 31), The Phantom (June 7), The Rock (June 7), The Cable Guy (June 14), Eraser (June 21)

2001 – 20 Year Anniversaries

Shrek (Image: DreamWorks) Shrek (Image: DreamWorks)

The Mummy Returns (May 4) – This sequel to The Mummy is obviously not as great as the original. Most notably though, it was the first film to cast a very popular wrestler at the time who was trying to break into acting. I’m not sure exactly how things worked out though for him though. His nickname was The *checks notes* Rock.

Shrek (May 18) – Sometimes movies come out that capture the hearts of any and everyone who sees them. In 2001, Shrek was that movie. The incredible voice cast combined with top-notch animation and a heartwarming story spawned a huge word-of-mouth hit that became an instant part of pop culture history.

Moulin Rouge (June 1) – A kinetic, period love story set to pop songs from throughout history, Moulin Rogue is a delightful, powerful, unforgettable film. It smashes genres together in incredible ways which have given it a life way beyond the screen.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (June 15) – When Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in 2001’s Tomb Raider, the casting was so perfect that, when the role was recast a few years ago, you probably had the thought “Why not just cast Angelina Jolie again?”

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (June 19) – Though Stanley Kubrick died in 1999, a few years later his friend Steven Spielberg took materials Kubrick had for a potential film, and finished them. The result — basically a modern Pinocchio about young android who gains consciousness — is solid, but maybe more noteworthy for its existence. Which we’re very glad about.

The Fast and the Furious (June 22) – “What if Point Break, but with cars? And in 20 years, the story will get so big, planet Earth won’t be able to contain it?” Yup.

Also: Josie and the Pussycats (April 11), A Knight’s Tale (May 11), Evolution (June 8), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (June 15)

2006 – 15 Year Anniversaries

MI:3 (Photo: Paramount) MI:3 (Photo: Paramount)

Mission: Impossible III (May 5) – It took 10 years for three movies to come out in the Mission: Impossible franchise (see above) but this third film, director J.J. Abrams’ directorial debut, set it off in a whole new direction.

X-Men: The Last Stand (May 26) – Let’s see. Directed by Brett Ratner. Botches the Dark Phoenix storyline. Kills several main characters. There are lots of things not to like about The Last Stand. But this cast and these characters. even in a bad story, makes a movie well worth watching and remembering.

Cars (June 9) – OK, the fantasy logistics of cars who live and breathe can be a little awkward and confusing. But this first film in the franchise has plenty of heart and action, making it maybe not the best Pixar film, but a solid one. And one that has endured well beyond many others.

Superman Returns (June 28) – Two thousand six was not a great year for superhero movie directors. Here, Bryan Singer helms a Superman story starring Kevin Spacey. Yeaaaaaaah. It’s a shame too because reusing John Williams’ score and some of the effects are great. We just aren’t sure if you can separate all that. At least Brandon Routh carried on the mantle.

Also: The Da Vinci Code (May 19), The Omen (June 6), Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift (June 16), Click (June 23)

2011 – 10 Year Anniversaries

Loki and Thor (Photo: Marvel Studios) Loki and Thor (Photo: Marvel Studios)

Source Code (April 1) – Duncan Jones, Jake Gyllenhaal, complex time loops to help save a bunch of people, Source Code is all kinds of awesome

Insidious (April 1) – One of my favourite horror franchises in recent memory, this first film follows a family forced to fend off creatures from another dimension called The Further. Absolutely terrifying and fantastically interesting.

Super (April 1) – Did that trailer for The Suicide Squad pump you up? Well, James Gunn has already made a kick-arse, violent, poignant R-rated superhero film and it turns 10 this year. It’s called Super and Rainn Wilson and Elliot Page star in what’s a highly underrated comedy.

Scream 4 (April 11) – I’ve got to revisit Scream 4. I love the first three films so much but remember being wholly disappointed in this one. And yet, fans have turned around on the film in recent years.

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Fast Five (April 15) – In 2001, The Rock and the Fast and Furious franchise were introduced to theatres everywhere. Ten years later, the two came together in the film that supercharged the franchise into one of the biggest in the world.

Thor (April 17) – Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have become such household names by now it’s easy to forget that in 2011, they were both basically newcomers taking on these massive roles in the Marvel franchise which was just starting to blossom. The movie was good then but plays even better now.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 7) – On Stranger Tides is the odd Pirates of the Caribbean movie that 100% exists but feels mostly forgotten by time because it’s just not that good. And yet it’s got Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, there’s some merit here. Also, oddly enough, Wikipedia lists it as “the most expensive movie ever made.”

X-Men: First Class (May 25) – It took five years but, finally, director Matthew Vaughn was able to get his hands on the X-Men and he knocked it out of the park with this period prequel introducing new characters and old characters just kicking unholy amounts of arse.

Super 8 (June 9) – After bringing Star Trek back in a new and exciting way, J.J. Abrams decided to go full Spielberg and tell a nostalgic sci-fi tale with a cast of kids. The E.T.-influenced Super 8 never reaches those heights but makes for a watchable, cool experience never the less.

Green Lantern (June 17) – While Green Lantern is, to this day, a punchline, it was an early indication that DC was swinging for the fences with its characters right along with Marvel. This didn’t work and derailed many plans with it, but the movie was ambitious and well-cast, even if mostly unsuccessful.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (June 23) – Transformers is pretty good. Transformers 2 is really bad. Transformers 3, aka, Dark of the Moon, course corrects a bit towards “not bad” in what would be the last gasp of mediocrity in Michael Bay Transformer movies. Four and five are absolutely awful.

Also: Hop (April 1), Hanna (April 7), Winnie the Pooh (April 15), Priest (May 13), Melancholia (May 18), Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 22), The Smurfs (June 16), Cars 2 (June 18)