Check out our picks for the best sci-fi movies of 1981. These sci-fi films our rated as our top movies of 1981. New movies are added everyday and we are dedicated to including every sci-fi movie ever made.
1981 Sci-Fi Movies List
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
R | 1h 35min | 95min | 21 May 1982Score: 8.37/10
Director: George Miller
Starring: Bruce Spence, Mel Gibson, Max Fairchild, Tyler Coppin, Vernon Wells
Synopsis: A former Australian policeman now living in the post-apocalyptic Australian outback as a warrior agrees to help a community of survivors living in a gasoline refinery to defend them and their gasoline supplies from evil barbarian warriors.
Tagline: Ruthless... Savage... Spectacular
Time Bandits (1981)
PG | 1h 56min | 116min | 06 Nov 1981Score: 7.93/10
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Ian Holm, David Warner, Sean Connery, Kenny Baker, Fred Wood
Synopsis: A young boy's wardrobe contains a time hole. Through this hole an assortment of short people (i.e. dwarfs) come while escaping from their master, the supreme being. They take Kevin with them on their adventures through time from Napoleonic times to the Middle Ages to the early 1900s, to the time of Legends and the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where they confront Evil.
Tagline: All the dreams you've ever had and not just the good ones
Escape from New York (1981)
R | 1h 39min | 99min | 10 Jul 1981Score: 7.52/10
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, George 'Buck' Flower, Donald Pleasence, Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis
Synopsis: In the future, crime is out of control and New York City's Manhattan is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables.
Tagline: The world's greatest leader is a hostage in the most dangerous place on Earth. Now only the deadliest man alive can save him.
Strange Behavior (1981)
R | 1h 45min | 105min | 17 Jun 1982Score: 6.75/10
Director: Michael Laughlin
Starring: Mark Hadlow, Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Marc McClure, Dey Young
Synopsis: Widowed John Brady is the Chief of Police in small town Galesburg, Illinois, where he has lived most of his life. His only offspring, Pete Brady, is a bright high school senior. John has been in turmoil since the suspicious death of his wife Catherine years earlier, which he always believed had something to do with her boss, Dr. Le Sange, who himself died shortly after Catherine's passing. Only recently has John and Pete's home life gotten back on track with John dating Barbara Moorehead, a waitress at the local hangout, she who has known John for some time. John's…
Tagline: Cuts up parts other movies just dislocate
R | 1h 49min | 109min | 22 May 1981Score: 6.13/10
Director: Peter Hyams
Starring: Eugene Lipinski, Angus MacInnes, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, Brendan Hughes
Synopsis: Marshal W.T. O'Niel is assigned to a mining colony on Io, one of Jupiter's moons. During his tenure miners are dying - usually violently. When the marshal investigates he discovers the one thing all the deaths have in common is a lethal amphetamine-type drug, which allows the miners to work continuously for days at a time until they become "burned out" and expire. O'Niel follows the trail of the dealers, which leads to the man overseeing the colony. Now O'Niel must watch his back at every turn, as those who seek to protect their income begin targeting him...
Tagline: On Jupiter's moon something deadly is happening
R | 1h 43min | 103min | 14 Jan 1981Score: 5.86/10
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Ironside, Chris Britton, Robert A. Silverman, William Hope, Leon Herbert
Synopsis: Darryl Revok is the most powerful of all the scanners, and is the head of the underground scanner movement for world domination. Scanners have great psychic power, strong enough to control minds; they can inflict enormous pain/damage on their victims. Doctor Paul Ruth finds a scanner that Revok hasn't, and converts him to their cause - to destroy the underground movement.
Tagline: There are 4 billion people on earth. 237 are Scanners. They have the most terrifying powers ever created... and they are winning.
Heavy Metal (1981)
R | 1h 26min | 86min | 07 Aug 1981Score: 5.63/10
Directors: Gerald Potterton, John Bruno, John Halas, Julian Harris, Jimmy T. Murakami …
Starring: Vlasta Vrana, Rodger Bumpass, Harold Ramis, Jackie Burroughs, Don Francks
Synopsis: An astronaut brings home a glowing green orb for his daughter. However, the green orb wipes him out and corners the girl for its purposes. Claiming to embody ultimate evil, the malevolent sphere, known as the Loc-Nar, terrorizes the little girl by showing a series of bizarre and fantastic stories it has influenced. The first is "Harry Canyon", a cynical taxi driver in a squalid futuristic New York who finds himself involved with a damsel in distress who is relentlessly pursued by murderous thugs who desire the Loc-Nar her archaeologist father found. The second is "Den", which chronicles the adventures…
Tagline: Sex and crime and rock 'n' roll!
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
R | 1h 21min | 81minScore: 4.2/10
Director: Bruce D. Clark
Starring: Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie, Edward Albert, Jack Blessing
Synopsis: A spacecraft travels to a distant planet to rescue the crew of another spaceship that crashed, but their own craft, damaged in the landing, needs repair. Baelon commands the rescue team formed of his rival Cabren, Alluma, Dameia, Quuhod and the rookie Cos. While looking for but not finding survivors from the former expedition, Cos is murdered; however, they cannot leave the planet due to a projected electromagnetic field. Commander Ilvar joins the team to search for the cause of the interference, while Captain Trantor, technician Ranger and cook Kore stay in the craft. One by one, rescue team members…
Tagline: ALIEN was the beginning ... Hell Has Just Been Relocated!
R | 1h 33min | 93minScore: 4.17/10
Director: Norman J. Warren
Starring: David Baxt, Judy Geeson, Steven Grives, Trevor Thomas, John Segal
Synopsis: A group of scientists are working in a lab located on a distant planet. One of them, Sandy, is attacked, raped and impregnated by a monstrous creature. She then begins to stalk her colleagues one by one, killing them and drinking their blood.
Tagline: Somewhere in the Depth of Space ... A Horrific Nightmare is About to Become a Reality.
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)
PG | 1h 28min | 88min | 30 Jan 1981Score: 3.4/10
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Ned Beatty, Rick Baker, Alan Shearman, Henry Gibson, John Glover
Synopsis: After being exposed to a bizarre mixture of household chemicals, Pat Kramer begins to shrink. This baffles scientists, makes parenting difficult, warms the hearts of Americans, and captures the attention of a group of people who want to take over the world. This evil group plots to kidnap Pat and perform experiments on her so that they can eventually shrink everyone.
Tagline: Lily Tomlin in an epic comedy (give or take an inch)
Saturday the 14th (1981)
PG | 1h 15min | 75min | 30 Oct 1981Score: 2.8/10
Director: Howard R. Cohen
Starring: Jeffrey Tambor, Thomas Newman, Patrick Campbell, Elizabeth Charlton Davey, Irwin Russo
Synopsis: Primarily a spoof of the Friday the 13th series, but also takes shots at several other horror films. After his family moves to a new house, a young boy discovers a mysterious book describing the curse hanging over the date of Saturday the 14th. Opening the book releases a band of monsters into the house, and the family must join together to save themselves and their neighborhood.
Tagline: Just when you thought it was safe to look at the calendar again.
Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981)
R | 1h 34min | 94min | 05 Nov 1982Score: 1.9/10
Directors: James Cameron, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Miller Drake
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Carole Davis, Ricky Paull Goldin, Captain Kidd Brewer Jr., Carolyn De Fonseca
Synopsis: A sunken US supply ship off a Caribbean island resort is the focus for a series of mysterious piranha attacks. Investigating the death of one of her son's companions after a scuba-diving trip, Anne Kimbrough breaks into the morgue with holidaymaker Tyler Sherman, only to discover that the fish have wings and can fly. But the hotel manager refuses to call off the annual fish fry on the beach, with inevitable consequences...
Tagline: The Terror Is Back....But This Time It Flies!
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