The cinematic gems of the Syfy channel are notorious for their below-average special effects, terrible writing and campy plots that only occasionally make logical sense. Still, there’s something about these delightfully horrorific small-screen movies that keep audiences coming back for more.
There are a bunch of Syfy movies (and we’re not distinguishing between the channel’s originals and those that eventually find a natural home there) just waiting to be enjoyed on a lazy, probably-still-slightly-hungover Saturday afternoon. And while we can’t include all of them, here’s adozen films to keep on your B-movie radar. But only after you’ve experienced Sharknado, of course.
You may not have heard of Mammoth (it’s not about sharks), but the CGI of the dethawed, rotted mammoth—who ends up being infected and controlled by an alien parasite—is wonderfully awful (despite it being nominated for an Emmy). And the monster choice is refreshing.
2. High Plains Invaders (2009)
When Syfy tries to spice things up, the result is a Western-meets-aliens with James Marsters (aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as the lead. If lumbering monsters aren’t your thing, these are the kinds of Syfy movies to look out for. It’s got a Cowboys and Aliens/pre-War of the Worlds thing going on, and it’s nice to see some robot-type enemies—along with Eyeborgs—roaming on the network.
3. Dinocroc (2004)
This Roger Corman flick could serve as the blueprint for the Syfy formula. The Dinocrocis a prototype created from the DNA of an ancient African dinosaur ancestor of the crocodile. Another giant-monster production from the channel, sit down and watch if you want something that might make you feel like: “Maybe I should’ve spent the extra money on Godzilla, but I just wanted absolutely no expectations. (Easily swap it for Dinoshark for more dino fun.)
4. Sharktopus (2010)
The Discovery Channel may have invented Shark Week, but Syfy is stuck on a perpetual Shark loop. Mega sharks, tornado-sharks and this delightful shark hybrid brought to you, once again, by Corman. It features a giant half-shark, half-octopus monster (in case that wasn’t obvious from the title) engineered as a military weapon. Shockingly, it gets loose and wreaks havoc. It stars Julia Roberts’ semi-famous brother, Eric, and an original theme song. Always a plus.
5. Alien Apocalypse (2005)
If I could count “Bruce Campbell one-liners” as a film category on this list, I would. The Evil Dead veteran starred in two SyFy films, both horrendous, both showcasing some epic lines. In Alien Apocalypse, Campbell and his band of astronauts have to save Earth from aliens who’ve taken over the planet. He delivers the line, “Mr. President, someone’s gotta lead this rebellion and if it’s not gonna be you then it might as well be me,” like a pro.
6. Man with the Screaming Brain (2005)
Make it a Bruce Campbell 2005 double feature. In Man with the Screaming Brain, Campbell’s character and a taxi driver get killed in a crime of passion in Bulgaria and, through an impossible surgery, their brains—and personalities—are merged into Campbell’s head. The tagline in the trailer is: “One man, two different minds but a common goal.” The trailer says it all. It really does.
7. Frankenfish (2004)
Another water-based Syfy creature-feature with one of the more memorable titles, this movie stars a huge fish mutation that terrorizes the swamps of Louisiana. It has a ‘50s B-movie vibe, a Frankenfish rap and, as usual, a cheesy premise. (Mega Piranha was a close second to this fish-flick, mainly for this scene.)
8. Abominable (2006)
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Syfy list without at least one Sasquatch! This 2006 film chronicles what would happen if Bigfoot one day decided to hunt us. A man recovering from a mountain climbing accident returns to the woods where, obviously, the creature decides to go on a rampage. Syfy has a few of these Yeti films under their belt if that’s what you’re into.
9. Mega Shark v Giant Octopus (2009)
Why do you even need to pretend there’s a plot with two giant fighting sea creatures? You really don’t. Not really. Here, you just pit these beasts against each other and let the movie magic happen as they destroy civilization. Golden Gate Bridge? Planes? No problem for these guys! Forget Pacific Rim. Skip the theater.
10. Infestation (2009)
Infestation is a comedy-horror starring Chris Marquette and a bunch of giant creepy-crawlies. He plays an office worker who wakes up to find his city overrun with giant insects and zombie-like monsters. The comedy is intentional in this case.
11. Splinter (2008)
Often found on under-the-radar horror movie lists, this effort focuses on a couple and a criminal in a stuck-in-a-gas-station survival-horror situation. The creature is a prickly monster that infects people with its nettles, turning them into spindly things themselves a la The Thing or Slither.
12. Dog Soldiers (2002)
This isn’t a Syfy original, but it’s been on the channel and is worth a watch because of director Neil Marshall (The Descent). Plus, it’s a pretty decent werewolf movie.