Today sees the release of White House Down, which is the most Emmerichian film ever produced. But meanwhile, you could also enjoy Europa Report on VOD or Byzantium in select theaters. Tons of low-budget science fiction and fantasy movies are more exciting than your average big summer blockbuster. Here are 25 of them.
Note: These are all films made for less than $30 million in 2013 dollars, in most cases way less than that.
Trollhunter: In this Norwegian film, a group of students meet a "troll hunter" and discover there are worse things in the forest than just deadly wildlife.
Being John Malkovich: The movie that introduced us to super-writer Charlie Kaufman and allowed us to open a doorway into a great actor's mind.
Attack The Block: Basically, aliens wreak havoc in the projects. But it's also a really powerful story about community, crime and repentance.
Cemetery Man: This Italian horror-comedy about a grave-digger who's forced to kill the dead when they rise again is also a creepy, strange love story.
Insidious: There have been a billion low-budget horror films in recent years, but this one stands out for its strong atmosphere and intense family dynamics.
Sleep Dealer: Discover the dark side of telepresence, as Mexican workers remotely pilot robot gardeners, construction workers — and killer drones.
Bubba Ho-Tep: Bruce Campbell has made a ton of great off-beat films, but this one in which Elvis and JFK fight the supernatural inside a rest home could be the wildest.
Chronicle: Josh Trank earned his gig directing Fantastic Four by directing this incredibly well-realized story of three teenagers who get superpowers that go to their heads.
Robot and Frank: this movie about a retired thief who gets a robot companion turns into a heist movie, a chase movie and a buddy comedy, but it never stops commenting on our relationship with technology.
The Crazies: a remake of a little-remembered George Romero movie about a town that goes nuts, this recent version was surprisingly brilliant and suspenseful.
Another Earth: the poster child of plucky indie movies in recent years, this film about a girl struggling with guilt under a duplicate Earth packs a lot of surprises.
The Terminator: probably the greatest DIY action movie of all time, James Cameron's debut is less splashy than T2 but still full of excitement and cleverness.
Moon: Duncan Jones made this movie about a lonely man in a moonbase for just $5 million, but he managed to create a completely compelling, exciting vision.
The Signal: three different directors made this indie thriller about a mysterious signal that makes people go nuts — and the results are actually super impressive.
28 Days Later: with an estimated budget of around $8 million, this "fast zombies" film feels like a splashy, intense action movie.
Shaun of the Dead: the first film of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright's "cornetto trilogy" is the cheapest, but will probably remain the best, thanks to genre-savvy zombie comedy.
Timecrimes: this Spanish film uses time paradoxes and a looping storyline to keep you guessing, but the thrills come from the sudden violence and creepy scares.
Safety Not Guaranteed: another film whose director (Colin Trevorrow) was promoted to directing a huge-budget franchise pic (Jurassic Park 4) on the strength of genuinely clever, funny direction.
Xtro: we had to include one low-budget slimy creature film, and this Alien knockoff is a great choice, thanks to some completely bonkers set pieces and an engaging family story.
Pitch Black: the first Riddick movie sticks to the basics, featuring a total amoral badass on a deadly planet, and it's like a seminar in space-murderology.
Zerophilia: this off-kilter, surprising romcom takes place in a world where some people have a "Z" chromosome that causes your gender to change every time you have sex.
The Host: one of the greatest monster movies of the past decade, this film manages to kick your ass with a surprisingly dark, satirical take on the kaiju genre.
Let The Right One In: the original Swedish version of this vampire movie is just amazingly thrilling, while also being beautifully focused on developing its characters and the setting of a frozen town.
Robocop: Like Terminator, this is a masterpiece of low budget film-making, made for just around $26 million in today's dollars. And even though the upcoming remake probably has 10 times the budget, it won't even come close to matching the thrills.
Primer: And finally, another movie that's exciting because of its ideas as much as because of the action. This cerebral, brain-twisting time-travel film rewards repeat viewings, but is just perfect the first time around.
So what did we leave out? Share your picks below!
Thanks to Rob Bricken, Jenn Brissett, Meredith Woerner, Zack Stentz, John Bowker, Michael A. Ventrella, Dave Goldberg, David Voderberg, Katherine Dawson, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Chuck Searcy, Gary Bodman, Eric Wybenga, Sasha Harris-Cronin, Chris LaMay-West, Sunil Patel, Jessy Randall, Karen Meisner, Terry Bisson, Rina Weisman, Marc Bernardin, Joe Decker and everybody else who suggested stuff!