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What better way to spend “social distancing” than sitting down with an amazing sci-fi movie at home? Amazon Prime gives you so many options that you should be set. The only problem is that, for all the hundreds of options that are available, it seems like you’ve either seen them all, or they look terrible. Especially in the selection of sci-fi movies included on Amazon Prime, where it seems any yahoo can upload their cheaply made disaster knockoff flick.
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However, there are some hidden gems. Here are ten “obscure” sci-fi movies you can stream on Amazon. If you’re a sci-phile, you’ve probably seen some of these, but none of them are in IMDB’s top-200 in either box office gross or popularity. However, they’re all worth watching.
The Man from Earth is a good sci-fi movie for people who love the deep concepts of science fiction. It is not a good movie for people who love the spectacle. This low-budget film penned by Star Trek veteran writer Jerome Bixby is about a Cro Magnon man who has secretly survived for 14,000 years.
As he’s trying to pick up and leave his current situation as a college professor, he gets cornered by a bunch of friends who get him to confess his life story. The ideas are fascinating, especially for history and archaeology buffs, but the acting is crude and the movie might seem slow if you don’t like watching people sitting around talking.
Final Cut is at the opposite end of the sci-fi spectrum, a high-paced actioner built around a single idea. The idea in this case: everyone has a chip planted in their brains to record everything they saw. Then, when they die, someone edits their memories into movies for viewing at the funeral.
But in this case, an editor (or “cutter” as the film calls them) sees something that others want to keep secret. It turns into a more typical chase mystery, starring Robin Williams in one of his few action roles. Mixed critical reviews show that this is a movie you’ll either really enjoy or might be bored by.
The premise of The Day of the Triffids sounds like your typical 50s monster flick: carnivorous plants are taking over the world. However, this movie is based on a compelling novel by John Wyndham (who also penned the story behind Village of the Damned).
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The book and movie layout the groundwork that is re-used in almost every zombie movie and TV series, so you’ll recognize a lot of the tropes. However, the triffids themselves are a refreshing change from zombies and add extra texture and excitement to the movie.
Some might object to putting Janelle Monáe’s hour-long music video on a list of sci-fi films, but this dystopian movie actually earned its place on this list with its satirical theme and slick futuristic style. Of course, you have to be able to at least tolerate Monáe’s music, but if you’ll go even that far, you will find this to be a satisfying sci-fi romp.
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The film feels almost like a 70s callback, with satire that reminiscent of Planet of the Apes or Soylent Green. And the style is gorgeous, with a modern lens refracting the fashion vision of Logan’s Run and Ziggy Stardust.
Next will likely check two boxes on your sci-fi movie list bingo card: Nick Cage and Philip K. Dick. This action thriller starring Cage is based on Dick’s story “The Golden Man,” and it tells the story of Cris, a man who can see just a little into the future.
Cris uses that gift to grind out a living in Las Vegas, playing cards and doing magic. Until he gets discovered by terrorists and the US government, that is. A lot of fun supporting actors help to make this movie better than its plot, you just have to strap in for the ride and not ask too many questions.
Universal Soldier has the same basic premise as Robocop, but with soldiers instead of policemen, and, instead of one, there are multiple. In this movie, action legend Jean-Claude van Damme stars as a soldier revived from the dead as part of a program for making super-soldiers.
His main adversary is the equally legendary Dolph (He-Man) Lundgren. The two square off over the ethics of killing civilians and journalists, creating tons of opportunities for super-soldier gunfights and fistfights. If you love this, another van Damme sci-fi actioner, Replicant, is also available. And you can look up the sequels, too.
A good creature feature is hard to find. Even in the sci-fi genre, these tend to be the lowest quality. But The Relic stands above its genre. The mythic protector of an Amazonian tribe is brought to life by a nosy anthropologist, who sends it to Chicago’s Field Museum. The movie effectively uses the museum’s close, crowded quarters to ramp up the tension.
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The creature is well-conceptualized, making the process of discovery interesting, and the design by Stan Winston Studios is both creepy and logical–it’s a beast adapted to its lifestyle. To top it off, Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore give all they’ve got to really sell the movie.
Not to be confused with its 2017 remake (notable for being Sir Roger Moore’s final film), The Saint is a taut spy thriller starring Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue. Kilmer stars as superspy Simon Templar, code named “The Saint,” on the trail of a cold fusion formula.
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But like a lot of these films, the science fiction elements are just backdrop for the action. But the action is well done, and Kilmer and Shue play well opposite one another. Kilmer, in particular, shines through his ability to convey a unique character in each of Templar’s clever disguises.
Fast Color is where the superhero genre meets the New Weird. On the surface, the story feels very much like Firestarter or Scanners: Ruth, a young woman with powers, is pursued by those who want to control her power. Tension ramps up because we are in a world that’s dying: there is no rain.
Everywhere Ruth goes, draconian water conservation measures complicate even the simplest life activities, grinding down her spirit. But Ruth will not be daunted, and with the support of her family and other women, she will fight on.
Earth Girls Are Easy is an oft-overlooked comedy sci-fi gem. A box-office flop despite the star power of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, this movie plays like a grown-up rom-com version of E.T.
Davis’ Valerie is enjoying her pool on a bright Southern California day when a spacecraft crashes there and three furry aliens emerge (Goldblum along with Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans). Turns out they’re kinda-dorky, kinda-hunky underneath, and romantic hi-jinks ensue. Yes, this movie is shallow, but it’s a light, funny, musical comedy that can put a smile on your face for an hour and a half, making it well worth your time.
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Though science fiction in the ’60s was primarily known for campier films like Barbarella and Zontar The Thing From Venus, the genre did produce a shocking amount of cutting edge cinema that is still as highly regarded today as it was then. While there were still films like The Lost World using giant iguanas as stand-ins for dinosaurs, there were also sophisticated benchmarks like 2001: A Space Odyssey creating visuals that audiences had never seen before.
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While most science fiction films simply transposed contemporary societal concepts into space a la The Jetsons, some films were actually showcasing new visions of the future unlike anything society could dream of. Innovations in NASA’s space programs inspired films that were set in realistic space stations and space ships, rather than the gleaming chrome rocketships of the ’50s. Here are 10 ’60s sci-fi movies that are still mind-blowing today.
Charleton Heston notably risked ridicule from his peers for appearing in Planet of the Apes, a sci-fi classic from ’68 that was made at a time when science fiction was generally dismissed with mockery. He portrays one of three astronauts marooned on a planet inhabited by sentient apes who have made humans into slaves.
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Watching humans be the devalued species on a seemingly alien world, the film is full of themes that question humankind’s superiority, and like 2001: A Space Odyssey which came out the same year, it is profoundly humbling. It constitutes the birth of the “hard sci-fi” niche, which today is one of the most prominent.
It’s hard to believe that a film from the same decade as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians can seem so relevant even now, but auteur Stanley Kubrick understood the necessity of divorcing 2001: A Space Odyssey from its campier peers by pushing a bold vision of the future.
When Dr. David Bowman and several astronauts undertake a mystery mission, they’re thwarted by the ship’s supercomputer, HAL. The tense showdown between man and machine is buoyed by hypnotic visuals that manage to seem dateless.
The literary classic “Robinson Crusoe” is given the sci-fi treatment with Robinson Crusoe on Mars, a tour-de-force film from director Byron Haskin. Ten years earlier, Haskin had achieved great success with The War of the Worlds, and was a respectable artist in sci-fi.
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After a difficult mission in space, Commander Kit Draper crash lands on Mars, where he must use his wits and survival skills to survive on the barren world. Filmed in California’s Death Valley, cutting edge visual effects and camera techniques were used to bring Mars to life in a fantastical way today’s scientists now know cannot exist.
King Kong vs. Godzilla heralds the first time that both behemoths appear onscreen together in color and widescreen, showcasing the bombastic nature of the kaiju film and instantly paving the way for all future monster films of its magnitude in the sci-fi genre.
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When two operatives of a pharmaceutical company kidnap and transport the ferocious King Kong back to Japan, they have no idea that an American submarine has accidentally also awakened Godzilla. The fight between the two at the base of Mount Fuji ensured that the film would be the most successful of all the Godzilla films.
Directed by John Sturges, known for some of the most famous Westerns of all time including The Magnificent Seven and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, as well as the thriller The Great Escape, Marooned showcased his first foray into science fiction.
The film chronicles an Apollo spacecraft as it returns from a mission to Earth, running out of both fuel and oxygen along the way, marooning its crew in space. All normal procedures are bypassed as NASA tries desperately to get a rescue craft to the crew in time. It provided the inspiration for the 2013 film of a similar theme, Gravity.
David Cronenberg, who would go on to do several well-regarded films in the sci-fi genre including Scanners, The Brood, and The Fly, cut his teeth on Stereo in 1969. The black and white film is his first, and explores themes of telepathy, sexuality, and transformation which would frequently reoccur over his life as a director.
A young man arrives at the Canadian Academy of Erotic Enquiry, where Dr. Luther Stringfellow supervises sexual exploration that results in the development of telepathic abilities. He hopes the polymorphous sexual bonds will make the “family unit” obsolete. Eventually, the subjects cannot be controlled, but separating them results in suicide and the creation of secondary personalities.
A chilling sci-fi film that incorporates elements of horror, Village of the Damned is a taut thriller that pushed the envelope when it premiered in 1960 by making its antagonists children. Little platinum-haired angels willed grown men to shoot themselves in the head, drive their cars into walls, and create all manner of mayhem.
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The town of Midwich experiences a strange phenomenon when all of its inhabitants suddenly become unconscious for four hours. When they awaken, they discover all the women of child-bearing age are pregnant. They give birth to eerie children capable of telepathy, who may be controlled by extraterrestrials.
Fantastic Voyage stands apart from other films involving miniaturization due to its outlandish, kaleidoscopic visuals that are as bizarre today as they were then. The 1966 sci-fi adventure inspired the film Innerspace in 1987.
When a scientist discovers how to shrink matter indefinitely, he’s smuggled from behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union to America, but an attack on his life leaves him with a blood clot moving to his brain. Operatives in a submarine are therefore miniaturized and injected into his bloodstream to try to remove the clot before it kills him.
Based on the literary classic of the same name by H.G. Wells, The Time Machine combines a daring adventure yarn with compelling practical effects, which in 1960 were some of the most sophisticated up until that point. It follows an inventor in Victorian England who builds a time machine and uses it to travel to different periods in the future.
Each trip gets him incrementally further in time until he’s traveled 1,000 years from 1895, in which the world is a dystopian landscape inhabited by the peaceful Eloi and the Morlock who feed on them. He helps the Eloi revolt against their oppressors and after a series of adventures returns to 1890 with fantastic stories to tell.
The Last Man On Earth is the first filmed version of the 1954 novel I Am Legend, which was recently made into a successful sci-fi horror film starring Will Smith. The Last Man On Earth stars horror icon Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan who wakes up everyday to hunt vampires as the last known survivor of a plague apocalypse.
With the whole world turned into vampires, Dr. Morgan must conserve his resources and kill as many vampires as he can. Immune to the plague, he tries to maintain companionship with first a dog, and then another survivor named Ruth, but that is the end of any happiness he’ll experience for the remainder of the film.
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Horror films in the ’60s took a dramatic turn for the shocking, morbid, and salacious. Due to the lifting of certain censorship, the decade saw the rise of experimental films like Orgy of the Dead, and the sight of Janet Leigh taking a shower in Psycho. Audiences were exposed to ideas and imagery they’d never seen before as hulking fiends like Frankenstein’s Monster gave way to the creepy Norman Bates or the loner Mark Lewis.
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In the ’60s, stripped of insects filling in for aliens, bizarre lizard men, or attacks by 50-foot women, horror became uncomfortably close, like a stranger stepping from the shadows to breathe across your neck. Its thematic elements drew on the psychological and the supernatural, which parallels much of the current genre. Here are 10 ’60s horror movies that are still terrifying today.
One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most critically acclaimed films, Psycho is widely regarded as one of the most masterful horror films of all time due to its palpable sense of suspense and dread. It relies strongly on lighting, ambiance, and strong performances to communicate its terror.
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A young secretary (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from her work and flees across Arizona; eventually, exhaustion overtakes her and she’s forced to check-in at the eerie Bates Motel. The proprietor is Norman Bates, a shifty young man with a deeply rooted obsession with both taxidermy and his mother.
Village of the Damned was one of the first science fiction horror films to produce pint-sized antagonists, showcasing children being the main perpetrators of murder, a concept that would be duplicated many times in later films like Children of the Corn.
When the English town of Midwich becomes the victim of a strange phenomenon that results in all the childbearing women becoming pregnant at the exact same time, the townspeople are horrified to find the offspring are all children that seem to be able to telepathically communicate and force their parents to do things against their will – including kill!
More obscure than other films on this list, Carnival of Souls has since become a classic horror film in the many decades since its release. It has few of the special effects that permeate more modern horror films, but what it does have is an eerie sense of calm that builds into an uneasy sense of foreboding that’s impossible to escape.
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It focuses on a young woman, the lone survivor of a car crash who moves to Utah to forget the tragedy. While working as a church organist, she becomes inexplicably drawn to the carnival at the edge of town, now abandoned, or at least of living souls…
The sunshine state is the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s horror-thriller The Birds, specifically the coastal areas of Northern California. Like many great films from the genre, The Birds instilled a fear of the everyday and mundane in audiences, to the point where a blue jay out a kitchen window heralded impending doom.
A wealthy San Francisco woman (Tippi Hedren) finds the patron of a local pet shop charming and decides to pursue him to a coastal town near Bodega Bay. As they strike up a romance, strange occurrences with birds begin to happen all over the town, until swarms of them are attacking anyone that ventures into the streets.
As lyrical as Billy Idol’s ’80s ballad of the same name, Eyes Without a Face is a haunting horror film with a premise as beautifully constructed as it is ghastly. While its concepts are unsettling, they also speak to human nature, the familiarity and inevitability of which cannot be ignored.
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When a brilliant but obsessive surgeon finds that his daughter has been disfigured after an accident, he struggles in vain to restore her radiant looks. Keeping her locked up in his mansion, he lures unsuspecting female victims to his home in the hopes of removing their faces and grafting them on to his daughter’s.
The Haunting has received a revival of sorts with the tremendous success of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, though the film and the series differ drastically from one another, save the fact that they both take place in a haunted manor.
Psychologist John Markway is curious about psychic phenomena and brings two women to stay at Hill House; Eleanor, whose experiences with the supernatural has left her shy and reserved, and Theodora, who is bold and unafraid. Together with the Hill House heir, Luke, they experience terrifying occurrences that cannot be explained.
Considered by some horror fans to be one of the greatest horror films of all time, Rosemary’s Baby has stood the test of time thanks to its atmospheric cinematography, haunting visuals, and a strong cast, led by a stirring performance by a young Mia Farrow.
When newlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into a New York apartment together, the old building and eccentric neighbors aren’t part of their plans, but they’re excited to start a family. Rosemary’s pregnancy doesn’t go as planned, however, and much of the horror comes from viewers watching how helpless she is when the father might be a demon.
The first of George A. Romero’s renowned zombie films, Night of the Living Dead was the groundbreaking horror film that started his legacy as the grandfather of ghouls. It was made for $115,000 and made 250 times its budget, and was critically despised for its explicit gore but revered by audiences across the United States.
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The terror begins when a couple is suddenly attacked by undead fiends while in a graveyard. The woman flees to a farmhouse where she’s joined by several other victims, and they all brace for a long night of survival against the hordes of cannibals outside.
Considered extremely controversial when it was released in the UK, Peeping Tom has grown in cult status over the decades, even as its director’s film career was forever marred by its creation. Even by today’s standards, it’s uniquely harrowing.
A lonely aspiring filmmaker, Mark Lewis likes to clandestinely film women. Sometimes he’ll invite promising subjects to his apartment, where he films them up close and personal before murdering them with a knife. As Lewis progresses to the completion of his “documentary on fear,” the police close in and he’s forced to orchestrate the gruesome finale earlier than expected.
Based on the thrilling novel The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents is a 1961 ghost story that marketed itself as being based on a screenplay in which the paranormal occurrences were completely legitimate. Acclaimed author Truman Capote worked on the script.
A governess (Deborah Kerr) looking after two young wards begins to question the strange goings-on of the manor where she lives, but their uncle, a drunken bachelor, is not concerned. She soon suspects the manor is haunted and that the children are being possessed by supernatural entities.
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It was thanks to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas that the rating of PG-13 was added to MPAA ratings in 1984. It was due to a little film called Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, starring Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw, that an uproar (over the films then PG rating) ensued due to the film’s violence (and the fact it wasn’t not rated R).
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But what’s more surprising is how many movies are still far more contemporary but also got the R rating for some strange reason. See a few of the best examples below!
The Breakfast Club was released in 1985, just after the PG-13 rating made its debut and still, it was stamped with an R by the Motion Picture Association of America. Why? Well, as will become a common theme amongst the movies on this list, it was because of language.
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The use of the F word in the film is the main reason it was, at the time, rated for adults (despite its important teen content). The use of a join in the picture also didn’t help but, if The Breakfast Club were released today, it’s highly doubtful it would still be rated R (even at a time when directors seem to be hoping for R rated comedies).
The 2014 film by director Richard Linklater was literally shot over the lifetime of star Ellar Coltrane, and yet the MPAA did not see the film as appropriate for teenagers also coming of age.
Why? There’s some drinking and pot smoking is mentioned but, other than that, it’s kind of a mystery as to what the MPAA had against Boyhood, especially in 2014. Teens are hearing and seeing far worse things on their ride to school most mornings than anything that appears in the award-winning Linklater flick, but the rating won’t keep anyone from finding the movie streaming online.
The 1986 movie, based on a Stephen King novella, was released after the PG-13 MPAA rating was already in effect, and yet, the Motion Picture Association of America decided the film still required an R rating.
What was held up as questionable behavior? Like The Breakfast Club, it’s mostly swearing, though there is mild violence and smoking (of cigarettes) in the film. There was a fight for a looser rating but, apparently back in the 80s, the MPAA was unwilling to budge and the R rating of Stand By Me remains strange and mysterious today.
No one is saying that the Academy Award Winning The Kings Speech would have appealed to a much younger demographic, but the fact that the historical drama is rated R is still surprising.
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Why is this tail about the father of current UK monarch Queen Elizabeth II too mature for younger viewers? Again, it’s because of the F word that the King himself repeats, memorably, in a single scene. In the world of the twenty-four-hour news cycle what did the MPAA really think it was protecting minor viewers from? Only history, it seems.
The 2000 film about a young English boy who wants to learn ballet dancing was rated R when it was released. That’s right, the ballet movie that was made into a Tony-winning Broadway musical was rated R. Why? We will give you one guess.
That’s right, because of language. Swearing was literally the only reason the movie was rated R, and still is. Words apparently have a great deal of power, especially to the MPAA. The Dark Knight only earned a PG-13 rating but heaven forbid youngsters watch anyone dance.
The best American President ever depicted on screen (that’s Harrison Ford’s James Marshall) was cut off from the wider viewing audience of the American public by an R rated upon release. Why? There’s violence in the film for sure, but certainly not as much as can be seen in any traditional superhero movie.
There is no nudity whatsoever. So why is this American hero in an R rated film? Because the F word is used one time. With the popularity of the movie on television, it may come as a surprise to some that it does have an R rating.
In 2011 a documentary was released addressing one of the largest issues affecting teen lives then (and today): bullying. The film, titled Bully was given an R rating because of its use of language.
Its use of real language that real kids and teens were already using. Still, the MPAA saw no reason that the material might be appropriate, as well as important, to an underage audience and slapped the film with an R rating, hindering its accessibility in theaters.
Once was a 2007 Irish “musical” movie lauded by the likes of Steven Spielberg. Once tells the story of two struggling musicians in Dublin, Ireland. Like Billy Elliot before, it too was later made into a Tony award-winning musical.
Again, the rating is exclusively due to language. That should come as no surprise at this point, though it may still be surprising that this “musical” and future Broadway darling did have the same rating as 2007’s No Country for Old Men and There Will be Blood.
In 1993 child megastar Macaulay Culkin went from prankster holiday darling to psycho in the film The Good Son (which also starred a very young Elijah Wood). Most of the film follows the two child actors as Culkin performs more and more violent stunts (though many are offscreen) and his cousin, Wood, has to try and convince the adults around them.
While probably not for the smallest audience members, it’s still a surprise that the Culkin film earned an R rating rather than PG-13. It’s still a mystery as to what exactly made the film so scary to the MPAA.
Maybe way back before the new millennium (meaning 1999) violence really did need an R rating in theaters. But, today’s audiences might be surprised that The Matrix received an R rating on its release.
Again, as films like The Dark Knight and Avengers: Endgame score PG-13 ratings and younger audiences the violence of The Matrix doesn’t stand out as much as it may have some two decades ago.
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The magical and muggle worlds of Harry Potter are famously divided. The Statute of Secrecy prevents wizards from disclosing the existence of the wizarding world, on a public level, to muggle society. The effects of such a statute are felt across the wizarding world too, as witches and wizards are centuries behind muggle in terms of technology. And it almost seems that witches and wizards are technophobes, with the greatest example of this being the fact that most technology does not work on the grounds of Hogwarts.
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But, if the world of Harry Potter regularly used muggle technology, how would the series have been different? These are 10 modern pieces of technology that would have affected the Harry Potter story if it were set today.
Throughout the Deathly Hallows books and movies, Harry Potter and the gang are on the run from the Dark Lord Voldemort. The group successfully evades the dark wizard and his Death Eaters for a surprisingly long time before they are captured by a group of snatchers.
However, would this story play out the same way in the modern-day? Modern surveillance is on a whole different level to what it was in the 1990s, meaning that Voldemort could use this muggle technology to track Harry, Ron, and Hermione pretty easily.
The main form of communication between witches and wizards in the world of Harry Potter is via owl. The nocturnal bird carries all communications and mail between wizards. However, while it is undoubtedly cool to send your letters and parcels via owl, it is also inefficient.
Aside from parcel delivery, which will undoubtedly be quicker than any muggle mail service, sending letters to your friends is so slow. If Harry, Ron, and Hermione had some access to an instant messaging service, they would be able to communicate far more efficiently during the summer months away from Hogwarts.
The internet has truly revolutionized modern society. It has introduced new industries to the world, brought people on distant continents closer together, and allowed for a fantastic new way of consuming media such as movies and TV. It’s clear from the Harry Potter series that the wizarding world does adopt some muggle technology, so what would happen if a wizarding internet was developed?
A wizarding internet would help put an end to the mountains of parchments used in wizarding administration and study, and it would allow new forms of wizarding entertainment to develop (wizarding YouTube anyone?). Perhaps the biggest influence on the story of a wizard internet would be on the Daily Prophet’s apparent monopoly over wizarding news. An internet with different news sources could allow people to accept Voldemort’s return far quicker than in the original story.
The Statute of Secrecy is one of the most important elements of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts story. It is the reason why the wizarding world is separated from the muggle world and drives the plot of the Fantastic Beasts movie forward. However, would this Statute of Secrecy still work well today?
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It is very hard to cover-up events in modern society due to the intervention of the internet and the availability of smartphones. The widespread use of the internet today would allow muggles to share their own theories about witches and wizards and attach images and so on as proof, allowing for conspiracy theories to take hold.
One of the more interesting examples of muggle technology that witches and wizards have adopted is the radio. Harry and the gang listen to the radio while they’re on the run from Voldemort and, more importantly for this entry, the Order of the Phoenix uses radios to communicate with each other.
While it wouldn’t necessarily make the Order more successful in their fight against the Death Eaters, switching radios for smartphones would certainly make the group more efficient (if they don’t get distracted by wizard Facebook of course).
Diagon Alley is one of the most beautiful areas in the wizarding world. The Diagon Alley scene in Sorcerer’s Stone is truly a magical picture that has transitioned into iconic status. However, the existence of a wizard internet could also lead to a magical version of Amazon.
The existence of online shopping also has had devastating impacts on high street shopping in the muggle world. Consequently, Diagon Alley may lose several customers as students opt to buy their goods elsewhere.
The quill is a central part of life in Hogwarts. While the quill itself isn’t necessarily magical, it certainly helps to build the wizarding world into something loveably eccentric.
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However, while the quill is positively charming it could also be irritating to use on a frequent basis, particularly for muggle-borns or half-blood students who are aware that ballpoint pens exist. A ballpoint pen is far easier to use than a quill and would also allow students to save money as they wouldn’t have to spend so much money on ink wells.
The Hogwarts library seems to an amazing place. Not only does it possess a wealth of knowledge from centuries worth of books, but it also has a deeply intriguing restricted section.
One of the main drawbacks to the Hogwarts library, however, is their lack of a search system. In modern universities and schools, there is a system you can use to check the library for what books they currently possess, where the book is, and even order the book so you don’t have to search for it yourself. If Hogwarts had this, it could have made Harry and the gang’s life so much easier.
While the Triwizard Tournament was undoubtedly a spectacle, not many in the crowd could actually get a good look at what was going on. In the first task, Harry was chased around Hogwarts by a Hungarian Horntail Dragon; in the second task, all four competitors spent their time underwater; and in the final task, all four competitors were in a dark, foggy maze.
This means that the crowd didn’t actually see much of the action during the Triwizard Tournament. However, if there was some kind of camera system, the crowd could have seen all the action on a big screen.
This one should go without saying. In the modern world, we would struggle to survive without the help of Google. The search engine allows us to find answers to some of the most complex questions that come to our mind.
Within the context of the wizarding world, or Harry Potter’s story more specifically, it would be incredibly useful. A wizarding search engine would allow Harry and the gang to find out answers to mysteries such as the Slytherin’s monster extremely quickly. In addition, a wizarding search engine could also help muggle-born students learn about the wizarding world before they visit Hogwarts for the first time.
NEXT: 10 Times Harry Potter Should Have Used Muggle Technology (And Didn’t)
While many ‘90s sitcoms, like Roseanne, Will & Grace, and Saved By The Bell, have been, or will be, resurrected in some fashion, there are many from that decade that wouldn’t translate for this new generation. At least not in their original forms.
The ‘90s were a much different time. This was pre-social media, and long before everyone was walking around with smartphones in their pockets. It was a time when six friends would sit together in a coffee shop and just talk and innocent first kisses were shared on the playground, not in a virtual world.
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Some shows wouldn’t translate because many of the main plots wouldn’t make sense in our digital age. And in other cases, our more politically correct and socially aware society would push back against them. Here are 10 that wouldn’t fly today.
Even though Family Matters was a hilarious sitcom about a middle-class African American family in Chicago, there’s one reason it might not fly today: the fact that the annoying neighbor Steve Urkel, who quickly became the star of the series, was labeled, well, a nerd.
With so many kids today being self-conscious about their image and feeling as though they don’t fit in, a show that pokes fun at a young boy who wears unfashionable clothing and is socially awkward might not sit well with society. Especially when his alter ego Stephan is considered to be the more appealing version of him.
The main reason this sitcom would not fly today is that the patriarch, Al Bundy, was incredibly chauvinistic. Every episode included him poking fun at his neighbor Marcy, suggesting she was unattractive, and cruelly insulting overweight women.
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Al had some of the best one-liners, but his comments were rude, crude, and crossed lines about weight that today’s society would never allow. There would likely be an outcry about his treatment of women. And a version of the show with Al as a nice guy who didn’t insult anyone just wouldn’t be the same.
Even though there have been talks of a reinvention of this popular sitcom, it could not fly with the same premise. A young man from West Philadelphia is sent to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in Bel-Air after getting into a fight on a basketball court?
Viewers would chastise the mom for giving up her son, even though it was for a better life. And the light the series sheds on the dichotomy between upper and lower-to-middle class families might be all too real and topical for this era to stomach.
The premise of Friends has been copied over and over again through series like That ‘70s Show, Happy Endings, and How I Met Your Mother. Some were more successful than others. But Friends, as it existed back then, couldn’t fly today.
First, many of the mishaps wouldn’t have happened because, well, cell phones. The gang could have found out more details about all of the interesting characters they dated via social media. Not to mention that six 20-something-year-old friends hanging out in a coffee shop every day would now likely just consist of them working on their phones, taking pics of their lattes, and composing selfies.
A recent meme noted that, if a version of That ‘70s Show came out today, it would have to be based on the ‘90s if it were to follow the same timeline. That’s pretty eye-opening!
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Now that we have hit the 2020s, the 1970s are a distant, distant past. Consider that a show about the ’70s for young folks today would be like a show about the 1940s back in the ’90s. The series might work given some of the similarities to the way we live today – ‘70s music, fashion, and even hippie culture, are becoming popular again. But kids hanging out in their friend’s basement for hours on end just doesn’t happen anymore. Not to mention the issue today’s viewers might have with the portrayal of Fez, the foreign exchange student.
Maybe if the show were renamed NewsPodcast, it might fit with the current generation. But NewsRadio was all about the staff at an AM news radio station in New York City. Sure, radio still exists today. But does anyone want to see the behind-the-scenes of an AM radio show? Not really.
As noted, if the title were adjusted to include the word podcast and it was a series that looked at the team, individual, or pair behind a popular podcast show, it might actually work.
This one simply wouldn’t fly today because the premise is already being handled through the series Young Sheldon, a spin-off of The Big Bang Theory that tells the story of a young Sheldon Cooper.
Smart Guy, which aired from 1997 to 1999, centered around a child genius named T.J. Henderson, who skips several grades to go from fourth to 10th grade in high school. This puts him in the same school as his two older siblings, Yvette and Marcus. Sheldon, meanwhile, has done the same, as he is in the same classes as his older brother Georgie. Been there, done that.
No one would believe that a show like Home Improvement, which Tim Taylor starred in, would still be on the air and successful today in an age when home renovation shows are big, bold, and outlandish. Would we really watch a man named Tim the Toolman Taylor discuss how to build or fix simple things in the home?
The family aspect of the series would still ring true, as Tim and his wife worked to raise their three children. But Tim’s occupation would have to change. Perhaps instead of a home improvement show, he made videos for YouTube from his garage and was an influencer among the handyman crowd?
The idea of a male live-in housekeeper for a high-powered executive single mother is no longer considered unusual, or, at least not as weird as it might have seemed back in 1984 when this series, which aired through to 1992, premiered.
In the current landscape where female executives and working mothers are celebrated and gender role reversals can be the norm, most viewers would shrug their shoulders at the premise of the show. It would no doubt get an underwhelming “So what?” instead of the gasps it received way back when.
Okay, so this series could totally fly today. However, it wouldn’t be considered as progressive as it was back then. The fantasy series, which gained a cult following, focused on Xena, a famous warrior looking to redeem herself from past sins by using her fighting skills to help others who are in need.
It wasn’t common to see a strong female leading a sitcom as a fierce warrior back then, with the exception of Wonder Woman. What’s more, the series had homosexual undertones, sometimes suggesting that there was a romantic relationship between Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle. In today’s world, that relationship might be more explicitly stated.
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Television viewing in the 1970s was at an all-time high and could be attributed to the popularity of situational comedies. Prominent sitcoms often mirrored the social climate of the times and explored things like sex, race, politics, and war.
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Ironically, it is those very same subjects that TV shows tackled head-on in the ’70s that would undoubtedly keep them from airing within today’s television landscape. TV networks are hesitant to put anything on the air that could upset or alienate potential viewers. For those reasons, here are 10 hit sitcoms from the ’70s that wouldn’t fly today.
The premise seems innocent enough – an astronaut walking along the beach discovers a magic lamp, rubs it and POOF, a genie pops out. The first thing Jeannie does after being freed from the lamp is to kiss her surprised liberator on the lips. That scene alone would most likely land the script in the trash bucket. In today’s post #metoo world, no network would greenlight a TV show about a scantily clad woman who calls her man “Master” and caters to his every whim.
This show technically debuted in the mid-sixties but found its biggest success in the 70s through repeats and TV movies on NBC.
Often considered NBC’s answer to CBS’s All in the Family, Sanford and Son stared comedian Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford, a junk dealer living in South Central Los Angeles with his son.
The show was extremely popular and finished in the top 10 for its first few seasons. Unfortunately, Fred Sanford was somewhat of a bigot. When not faking heart attacks for attention, the feisty widow was often cracking racist jokes and using racial slurs, which would not fit in well these days as part of NBC’s must-see line up.
Television shows dealing with war can be extremely popular. But a comedy that takes place within a German prisoner of war camp – not so much.
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The popular comedy followed a ragtag band of POW’s lead by Colonel Hogan (Bob Crane) as they did their best to sabotage the German war efforts. Although the atrocities of war were never really on display, a comedy set in Nazi Germany is not something most networks would be itching to make these days.
Victor French left his co-starring role of Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie to play the lead in this terrible sitcom that aired on ABC for two seasons. While not a huge hit, Carter Country was proof that no subject matter was deemed “off-limits” in the 1970s.
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Set in a small town in the state of Georgia, the home turf of then-President Jimmy Carter, the fact that a show like this lasted for two seasons and even made it into the top 40 during its first year is mind-boggling. Carter Country’s plot usually revolved around stereotypical southern racism and even featured a police officer who was a known member of the Ku Klux Klan. And yes, this show was billed as a comedy.
A show about a lovely lady and her three lovely daughters who shack up with a single father and his three boys. The Brady Bunch was the epitome of wholesome family viewing. The characters and storylines were so sugary sweet one could almost be at risk for diabetes just by watching.
Aside from the wholesome goodness, which could potentially be off-putting to viewers who prefer family shows like The Goldbergs and Modern Family, The Brady Bunch is just too white. The parents don’t have any black co-workers or minority neighbors and the kids don’t seem to have any non-white friends. What kind of message does that send?
There is nothing wrong with Happy Days – a show about a simpler time when things were easy. Basked in 1950’s nostalgia the series was positioned as a coming of age comedy centered around the Cunningham family and their friends – The original Wonder Years.
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Unfortunately, ratings weren’t great in the beginning so changes were made. Happy Days became a show centered around The Fonz and his wild behavior ( jumping a shark). Serious issues facing teenagers in the ’50s were replaced with outlandish plots like meeting an alien named Mork, and all this worked 40 years ago. The show was a huge hit, but audiences are too smart for that now. A TV sitcom centered around simpler times in the 1950s better be just that or viewers won’t buy it.
The show has a catchy theme and made superstars out of John Ritter and Suzanne Somers. The premise was simple yet unheard of – three roommates lie to their landlord so they can all live together. Jack is straight but pretends to be gay to ensure there would be no bedroom shenanigans between himself and two female roomies.
The idea that the main character pretended to be gay to better his living situation probably wouldn’t sit well with viewers today. Besides that, Jack was a womanizer and producers liked to dress the ladies in scantily clad clothing at every turn. Feminist groups would have a field day.
Bea Arthur played the title character in this spin-off of All in the Family. She was the cousin of Archie Bunker’s wife, Edith. The comedy sometimes dealt with serious topics and the humor on the show was darker than a lot of hit comedies from that era.
Maude was a boozy feminist who loved to speak her mind, pop pills, and even had an abortion at age 47. While there are plenty of darker characters like this on TV today, Maude aired on CBS in primetime. She could potentially find a home on cable, but it’s doubtful Maude would do well as a lead-in to Young Sheldon.
Another All in the Family spin-off, the Jeffersons and Bunkers were neighbors before George and Weezy moved on up to the east side.
George Jefferson was a racist. He often insulted an interracial couple from the building and never missed a chance to sling insults with a fellow bigot – mainly Archie Bunker. The show was a huge hit and ran for 11 seasons but the often risque dialogue and frequent racial slurs would make The Jeffersons a no-go today.
It’s sad that one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, in all likelihood, wouldn’t fit within today’s television landscape. There’s just no chance someone like Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) would be tolerated in living rooms across America.
There’s no denying Archie Bunker was a bigot who had no qualms about using racial slurs and speaking his mind, regardless of who it would offend. He was constantly berating and arguing with his more enlightened son-in-law, Michael, otherwise known as Meathead (Rob Reiner) and anyone else who might oppose his beliefs – such as George Jefferson and Maude. While this was all deemed “hilarious” in the 1970s, today a script for a show like All in the Family wouldn’t even make it passed the intern’s desk.
NEXT: 10 Hit Sitcoms From The 80’s That Wouldn’t Fly Today
Some sitcoms from the 1980s are considered timeless. Shows like Cheers, The Golden Girls, and The Cosby Show would have found success in today’s television landscape almost as easily as they did 30 years ago.
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However, some comedies are just “totally 80’s.” The look, the feel, the dialogue, and storylines are covered in radical 80s awesomeness. The shows below are all funny and have an audience but only could have thrived within that gnarly neon bubble that was the 1980s. Here are 10 hit sitcoms from the awesome ’80s that wouldn’t fly today.
This spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes finds the Drummonds’ former maid Mrs. Garret becoming a housemother at an all-girls school boarding school. Everything about the show screamed “the eighties” – the hairstyles, the clothes, the scenery and especially the characters.
The students on the show were a who’s who of 80’s teenage stereotypes; A tough but pretty tomboy, a vain, arrogant beauty queen, a sassy black girl on rollerskates and a large-figured Jewish girl with a big heart and sense of humor to match. The Facts of Life ran for nine seasons making it one of the longest-running 80s sitcoms.
Growing Pains featured a classic 80s sitcom staple – role reversal. In this case, the family matriarch, after years of putting her career on hold to raise three children, returns to the workforce while dad takes his turn staying home to mind the store.
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Growing Pains was a funny show that also had its share of “very special episodes” dealing with serious topics such as suicide, alcohol-related car wrecks, teenaged runaways, and drug use. However, as soon as ratings began to drop the show was guilty of yet another tired sitcom staple – a new baby. It’s hard to pinpoint what ruined the show- the birth of the fourth Seaver or Kirk Cameron finding Jesus.
Perhaps the most iconic of all 80s sitcoms, Diff’rent Strokes was a show about two orphan black boys from Harlem who move in with a rich white guy in his Park Avenue penthouse.
The show was funny for a while and a huge ratings winner for NBC but as soon as the fish out of water premise wore off viewers were left with a corny show that tried real hard each week to find a place for series star Gary Coleman to utter his classic catchphrase, “What you talking ’bout Willis?” Plus, you know, it all depends on a benevolent white savior.
An elegant English butler who once worked for Winston Churchill takes a job with a middle-class Pittsburgh family headed by George Owens (legendary baseball announcer Bob Uecker).
The stuffy, posh Mr. Belvedere often clashed with the Ownes youngest son, the troublemaking Wesley. When not at odds with the boy, Mr. Belvedere was busy solving the daily problems of the other family members. The Owens suffered from a variety of 1980s sitcom woes such as teen pregnancy, HIV, underage drinking, homelessness, and Alzheimer’s.
In an obvious attempt by ABC to cash in on the success of Diff’rent Strokes, Webster centers around an orphaned black boy who moves in with a rich white family. Emmanuel Lewis plays the title character in a role very similar to Gary Coleman’s Arnold Jackson on the NBC show.
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The sitcom revolved around Webster, a five-year-old boy who moves in with his godfather George, a former NFL player who recently married a rich socialite whom Webster calls “Ma’am.” At the beginning of the series, storylines often focused on Ma’am and George adjusting to life as newlyweds but it wasn’t long before nearly every episode focused on precocious-cute-kid Webster.
Perhaps the only thing memorable about Charles In Charge was its catchy theme song. After being canceled by CBS in 1985 the show returned in syndication two years later and found success. In total, the series ran for five seasons and contained 124 episodes.
Scott Baio played the title character who served as a caretaker for the Powell family. The children often looked to Charles to offer advice, help solve their problems and see them through tough times. The “helpful outsider” was a popular sitcom trope in the 80s as evidenced by other comedies like Mr. Belvedere and ALF.
Another 80s role-reversal comedy, Silver Spoons is centered around the relationship between an overgrown man-child and the uptight son he never knew he had played by Ricky Schroder.
Edward Stratton is rich and irresponsible but has to grow up rather quickly when his pre-teen son Ricky – the product of a brief marriage – shows up at his door. Silver Spoons is perhaps best remembered for the Strattons mansion which featured video arcade games, a race car shaped bed and a working train that weaved its way through the mansion.
Yet another show where a foster kid has to adjust to life in new surroundings. Soleil Moon Frye plays the title character who moves in with an elderly man named Henry (George Gaines of Police Academy fame).
Punky is a street smark kid who brings out Henry’s caring side while her new foster dad finally gives her the home she deserves. Punky Brewster became a role model for young girls across America who adopted her unique 80s wardrobe which included colorful clothing, mismatched shoes and socks and sunshine barrettes in her hair.
You had to suspend disbelief to enjoy ALF – a sitcom about a friendly alien who crashes into the home of the Tanners, a middle-class California family. Most episodes centered around the alien attempting to blend in with his new surroundings and fit in with a family who never seems quite sure they want him there.
ALF debuted in 1986 and was wildly popular. It spurred an animated series and tons of Alf-related merchandise. But you gotta think this furry muppet wouldn’t catch on today. Not in a world where Baby Yoda has become the new standard in alien cuteness.
Small Wonder just might be the oddest sitcom from the 1980s. The series revolved around a robotic 10-year-old girl named VICI (Vicki) which stands for Voice Input Child Identical. Vicki was the creation of Ted Lawson, a robotics engineer who brought the robot home and passed her off as the family’s newly adopted daughter.
Episodes often centered around the family’s attempt to keep Vicki’s robotic identity a secret. That was kind of hard since the android possessed super-human strength, super speed and, well, talked exactly like a robot. One problem producers didn’t account for was the natural aging of the actress who played Vicki. To explain this Ted eventually gave the robot an “upgrade” which allowed Vicki to age like a normal human and even consume food and drink which, according to Ted, passed through her naturally. We’ll just take his word on that one.
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