When it comes to sci-fi/horror, the majority of people tend to cite one of two films as their favorite: Alien or Aliens. Now, don’t get me wrong, those films are indeed awesome and I love them, but the sci-fi/horror blend nearest to my heart is and will probably always be Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon.
Today, August 15th, is the twentieth anniversary of the Event Horizon’s harrowing trip into a dimension of pure chaos, and with that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at five of the coolest things about the film.
Warning, visual aids will be included, so if you’re at work, you should probably Liberate Tutemet Ex Inferis before your boss shows up. Also, I’m about to gush about Event Horizon in great detail, so if you haven’t seen it, be warned, there are spoilers afoot.
#5 – The Cast
Beyond the story itself, one of the things that initially drew me to Event Horizon was the cast, which is absolutely packed full of people that I (and I’m guessing many of you might) recognize. Heading up the crew are of course Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne, certified genre icons that should need no introduction.
Outside of Neill and Fishburne, there’s Kathleen Quinlan, who I’ll always most associate with Twilight Zone: The Movie’s remake of It’s a Good Life. She also starred in the underrated 1985 virus outbreak flick Warning Sign, and played Tom Hanks’ wife in Apollo 13.
I knew Joely Richardson at the time from Disney’s 1996 remake of 101 Dalmatians, but she went on to greater fame in FX’s Nip/Tuck. Richard T. Jones had already appeared on multiple TV shows prior to Event Horizon, but my favorite role of his ended up being James Ellison on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Jack Noseworthy would go on to play metal-head Randy in 1999’s hilarious Idle Hands, while Jason Isaacs is now of course best known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series. He also starred in the brilliant but canceled NBC drama Awake.
Finally, Sean Pertwee would cement his horror credentials with Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, and now plays Alfred on Gotham. Wow, now that’s a talented group.
#4 – The Production Design
While everything from the opening space station set onward looks terrific, the Event Horizon itself is truly a marvel of production design. The film had a pretty big – for the time – $60 million budget, and it showed in every frame.
Every single room and corridor of the Event Horizon looks menacing and evil in a different way, and every piece of architecture looks “off” to some degree as well. The crown jewel of the ship is easily the core, which houses Dr. Weir’s (Neill) gravity drive device that inadvertently takes the crew to hell.
From the long, sharp spikes all around the room to just how ridiculously tall it is, everything is a sight to behold. Most impressive is the drive itself, which spins rings within rings continuously in a way almost resembling the sliding movements of Hellraiser’s Lament Configuration box,
#3 – The Gory Kills
When most people think of Event Horizon, the first thing to probably come to mind are the fast-cut hell scenes, which depict the fate of the Event Horizon’s original crew. That’ll get it’s own focus below, but for this section, I wanted to highlight some of the horrors that befall the main cast.
Probably the most downright mean of the bunch is the ship using visions of Peters’ (Quinlan) kid to first torment her, then ultimately lead her to a splattery death by huge fall in the core. There is also what happens to Weir, who is first shown a re-enactment of his wife’s suicide, then made to remove his own eyes.
Poor Justin (Noseworthy), the “baby” of the crew damn near gets his insides liquefied after being possessed into exiting the airlock without a suit, only to be saved at the last minute by Capt. Miller (Fishburne). Smitty (Pertwee) actually gets it the nicest(?) of those who die, simply getting blown the hell up by a bomb.
The award for the most sickening death though goes to resident doctor D.J. (Isaacs), who has a little impromptu surgery performed on him by a now fully evil and superpowered Weir. I have a very strong stomach, but even I get unnerved by how D.J.’s mutilated body is left on display.
#2 – Bringing Hell to Space is an Awesome Concept
All horror fans have specific sub-genres that tend to really float their boat, whether it be demon possession flicks or slasher movies. Me, one of my great horror loves is movies that either go to and depict hell, or bring hell to Earth. In some ways, Event Horizon does both those things, and does them well.
Full disclosure, I’m not a religious man, and don’t believe in hell. That said, the concept of a dimension where evil is in complete control and only chaos and torture await fascinates the hell out of me (pun intended) for whatever reason. Event Horizon turning this idea into a sci-fi conceit is genius, and one of the reasons I love the film so much.
In fact, were it not for the existence of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Event Horizon would probably be my favorite hell-based horror film of all-time. Sadly, Dr. Weir isn’t a terrifying clown juggling his own eyes, so he loses out by a smidge.
For anyone who’d like to see something similar to Event Horizon but on a smaller scale, check out the obscure 1990 low-budget sci-fi/horror flick The Dark Side of the Moon. The two plots are very similar, but considering how few people have seen Dark, I’m pretty positive Event Horizon wasn’t simply ripping it off.
#1 – Save Yourself from Hell
Okay, you knew this was coming. There’s a reason the hell sequences depicting the torture and murder of the original Event Horizon crew – and the potential fate of Miller’s crew – are so legendary, and that’s because they contain some of the most fucked up imagery ever seen in a big-budget Hollywood genre film.
Sadly, as anyone familiar with the movie knows, Anderson’s original cut was much longer, and included much more detailed looks at the hell scenes. I’ve included both the version that appears in the film, and some of the deleted bits included on the DVD release below, for your viewing pleasure.
And with those lovely images, I bid you adieu for today. I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on this trip down memory lane. Now, before you continue with your day, remember, where you’re going, you won’t need eyes to see.