Close Encounters + 17 more sci-fi movies you can watch online for free

With so many services out there vying for our hard-earned money, it’s easy to forget there are still plenty of sci-fi flicks you can watch for free. So what’s the cream of the crop (and where can we find it)?

We expect services like Netflix to have an ample supply of good sci-fi (hey, you’re paying for it!), but some free services can also scratch that alien and comic-book itch if you’re not ready (or able) to drop some cash.

From Hulu to Crackle to the Internet Archive — there’s a lot of stuff to find out there if you know where to look.

So what are some free sci-fi flicks we can stream to keep us busy during this hot, lazy summer?

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    The Evil Dead

    We may have to wait a while longer to see the remake on Blu-Ray, but Sam Raimi’s seminal horror original is available for free to the masses. Sure, it’s a little dated, but this one still stands out as one of the most gruesome flicks ever made — and the insane, practical effects are some of the most unique ever produced.

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    Resident Evil

    The franchise has spawned a half-dozen sequels, but the claustrophobic original remains arguably the best installment. Framed around a small team’s mission into a secret, underground research facility, the film helped usher in the modern zombie renaissance. Before the franchise dug into the wild conspiracies, clones and all that other stuff — it all started here.

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    The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

    Roger Corman’s acclaimed, 1960s flick about a florist who creates a flower that feeds on human flesh is a cinema classic. It inspired the musical, as well as the 1986 remake. But, most critics argue the original is far superior. So, what are you waiting for?

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    Night of the Living Dead

    Sure, we’re all into The Walking Dead these days — but if you’re jonesing for some classic undead cinema, George Romero’s classic is here and good to go. And yes, all these years later, it’s still scary as hell.

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    The Blair Witch Project

    Yes, it’s pretty much a joke nowadays — but this movie scared the crap out of people when it was first released, and was one of the first films to use the internet as a major, grassroots promotional tool. So, why not take a walk down memory lane and make fun of yourself for actually being scared of this found footage mess.

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    Gattaca

    This one has become a cult hit following its release, and delves deep into genetic manipulation and what it could mean for humanity. It’s a smart flick, and does a fantastic job of world-building around the premise.

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    Last Action Hero

    This Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle is famous in the fact that it’s one of the most-cited examples of Hollywood excess, with Hollywood pouring money on it to try and fix script problems and everything in-between during the development process. It’s a hot mess to be sure, but it’s still an insanely huge, meta-action film. Taken as a pure popcorn flick, this story of a kid transported into the world of the movies is still a lot of fun.

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    Vampyr (1932)

    Classic, vampy goodness. This one is so old it has since passed into public domain, so it can be streamed or downloaded for free.

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    The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936)

    Based on H.G. Wells’ story of the same name, this beloved sci-fi comedy is kicked off when some angels decide to conduct an experiment with humanity. It digs into the question of unlimited power, what it means to be human — and the redemption of mankind. Not bad for a black-and-white classic from 80 years ago.

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    Identity

    Though it did solid business at the box office, this John Cusack flick is mostly forgotten these days. But, it’s pretty great, and is a nifty psychological thriller to dig into if you’ve never seen it. It’s smart, well-acted and free (yay!). What more could you ask for?

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    Highlander

    Yes, the fantasy classic that spawned an un-killable straight-to-DVD franchise is here for the great price of $0.00. There’s a reason its a cult classic, and no matter what you think of the franchise in its current incarnation — the original is still pretty awesome.

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    The Punisher: War Zone

    This one effectively killed the Punisher franchise, with a mediocre box office and home release (not to mention the fact it was blasted by critics), but it’s really not a terrible action flick. This one was Marvel’s attempt to reboot the franchise with a darker tone, and it sadly didn’t go very well. But, it’s free — so if you’re starving for some Frank Castle, then dig in.

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    Buck Rogers: Planet Outlaws (1953)

    One great thing about the Internet is that is has democratized access to the classics. Want to watch an original, 1950s Buck Rogers story that’s revered as one of the best? No problem, just fire up YouTube.

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    Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Steven Spielberg’s classic has inspired a generation of sci-fi fans, and now you can watch it for free with your kiddies (or get reacquainted just for fun).

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    Primer

    It’s a good thing this one is free, because you’ll need to watch it a few times just to make sense of it. Acclaimed as one of the smartest sci-fi films ever made, this twisty time travel indie flick about a few guys who figure out how to travel in time is a blast to watch. From paranoia between friends, to some hard sci-fi elements, it’s well worth a look.

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    John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars

    John Carpenter gave the hard sci-fi genre his best shot with this 2001 flop — and it’s a true disaster to behold. Sure, the writing, story and visuals are awful. But, it’s awful in that so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. If you’re looking for a forgotten gem to do your best Mystery Science Theater 3000 impression on, you could do far worse than this.

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    The Last Man on Earth (1964)

    No, Will Smith’s I Am Legend wasn’t the only attempt to adapt Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name. This Vincent Price vehicle is an interesting one to watch, though Matheson himself wasn’t too impressed with it. A few more remakes have followed over the years, but this was the first.

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    Things to Come (1936)

    Devised by H.G. Wells, this ambitious sci-fi classic looks to establish a future history of where Wells thinks the world might end up in the future (from 1940 to 2036). It’s an interesting, stellar piece of sci-fi history well worth a watch.

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