Archive for the ‘Event Horizon’ Category

event-horizon

Ridley Scott’s Alien redefined the sci-fi/ horror movie in 1979, with its tense atmosphere, and reliance on isolation and paranoia to evoke a sense of terror in the viewer, themes that were later explored in John Carpenter’s The Thing, a film I feel expanded on the groundwork laid by Alien.

Until then science-fiction had been a relatively one-note genre: aliens invade earth, humans band together to stop them, roll credits, a trope popularized by the Drive-in classics of the fifties, and sixties in titles such as War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Invaders from Mars. Sure, there were a few exceptions, notably, Invasion of the Body Snatchers that veered more into the realm of horror than science fiction, but most were generally tame affairs.

Unfortunately Alien’s sequels ditched the these darker themes in favour of action, after James Cameron’s Aliens was an overwhelming success, and for years we saw a draught of truly scary sci-fi/ horror films.

Enter 1997’s Event Horizon, a return to form of sorts to the genre, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, (known for his adaptations of Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil) and starring Sam Neill, and Laurence Fishburne.

The film follows members of the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark, tasked with answering a distress call from the starship, Event Horizon that disappeared during its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri. The Event Horizon, was designed to test an experimental gravity drive capable of generating artificial black holes to reduce time travel across astronomical distances. Once onboard the ship, the crew of Lewis and Clark find evidence of a massacre, and soon discover that the gravity drive worked, and has opened a portal to a hellish dimension.

Event Horizon has a bit of a bizarre development history. After the success of Mortal Kombat, Anderson was offered the job by Paramount, but it required him to make the film before a set release date, a deadline that would severely reduce the length of the post-production period. Anderson, who wanted to make an R-rated film, agreed, and ended up editing the film in six-weeks, rather than the typical ten-week period.

During a test screening of Anderson’s rushed, rough-cut of the film, members of the audience apparently fainted due to the extreme amount of gore, which then caused Paramount to demand a shorter cut of the film with most of it taken out.

The final product released to scathing reviews, and tanked at the box office regaining only 47 of its 60 million dollar budget, with many critics siting the lack of a cohesive plot as the film’s biggest issue. Anderson, has since gone on the record saying that, although the original cut was justifiably long Paramount forced him to make one that ended up being too short, and could have benefited from restoring around ten minutes of the missing footage. These deleted scenes, although graphic, offered more backstory to fill in the plot holes left in the final cut, many of which can be found on the two-disc special edition DVD of the film.

Event Horizon is an enjoyable film regardless of the shortcomings inflicted by studio meddling. It’s a homage to the films that inspired it, namely the aforementioned Alien, and The Thing, but it also borrows heavily from H.P. Lovecraft as well. The practical effects are wonderfully grotesque, and credit needs to be given to Anderson for using real-life amputees during the scenes where the crew is being mutilated to help intensify the realism.

Hopefully one day we’ll get to see Anderson’s original vision for Event Horizon. He stated in a 2012 interview that he’d tracked down a VHS tape containing the rough cut of the film, and would love to release a director’s cut provided Paramount shows interest.

Severed fingers crossed, skiddies.

 

 

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