Scott Snyder skips around genres like Bruce Wayne skips around bachelorettes. The acclaimed Batman writer may have made his start in the aughties writing damn good literary fiction, but the scribe (and former Buzz Lightyear) has since cemented his place as one of the most versatile and passionate writers at DC Comics. After creating the decades-spanning bloodsucker saga American Vampire with Stephen King, Snyder took over runs on iconic superheroes Swamp Thing and Batman, as well as the bombastic flagship title Superman Unchained with legendary artist Jim Lee. He’s also one of the few writers who can inspire children to dress up as zombie acrobat assassins.
Earlier this summer, Snyder unleashed The Wake, a sci-fi horror opus about a deep-sea terror and the team of scientists it’s been feasting on. The biggest summer blockbuster you won’t find in a movie theater, the comic features stunning art by Sean Murphy and a dense narrative that picks up momentum with each new issue (chapter #3 hit Wednesday). Unsurprisingly, the book has been the best-selling comic for publisher Vertigo in 10 years. The winding plot weaves maritime mythology, marine biology, and grotesque mermen into a white-knuckled descent into madness. Since Snyder’s been channeling the forgotten art of the claustrophobic monster mash, Paste asked the busy author to reflect on his favorite films from the same genus of his latest creation.—Sean Edgar
In his own words, here are Scott Snyder’s six favorite sci-fi movies:
A haunted-house movie in space. Horror disguised as sci-fi, Alien has a huge marker in the DNA of The WAKE. This was the first movie where I truly felt trapped, claustrophobic. You’re in this incredibly hostile environment, an ocean of death with nowhere to go, and something completely, well, alien, with a history that’s alien, a nature that’s alien, a purpose and mythology that’s alien, is coming to kill you.
I saw this one when I was way too young—my dad rented it and let me watch. The funny thing is, he made me leave during the sex scenes, but not the gore. There’s so much I love about this movie, but mostly it’s the expansive mythology: the bigger story behind the story, this horrific future, this fully realized nightmare coming… all of it on the shoulders of this average character.
My dad snuck me out of sleepaway camp under a blanket to see this one—how fucking cool is my dad, by the way? This movie just blew me away for how the second chapter of a story can open everything up exponentially. The second chapter of The WAKE—which takes place 200 years in the future—owes a lot to this film, and to Aliens, too.
Again, horror in the guise of sci-fi. There’s something primally terrifying about facing something that’s unknowable; something that stares back at you with no recognizable glimmer in its eyes; facing something completely inscrutable; something that can’t be figured out or reasoned with. Something that can’t be won over (it’s a lot of why I love classic monsters, as they turn our friends and family into these things—vampires, zombies, werewolves… they turn the people we find safety with into murderous alien things). And that thing is hiding as one of your friends… AND you’re trapped with it in the arctic. Also, the effects in this film. I literally got a subscription to a magazine called Cinefex after seeing this. I became obsessed with Rick Baker, Rob Bottin and Stan Winston.
The first sci-fi movie I saw as a kid that made me really question who was right, who was wrong. It opened my eyes to the idea that science fiction could be about larger questions about ethics—philosophical questions.
Because… I really need to explain?