Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Sean Pertwee
Directed by Paul Anderson
Distributed by Paramount Home Video
The bridge between sci-fi and horror is not one that is often traversed successfully. While there have been many films that have attempted to bring both genres together in one neat little package, few are worthy of mention. Of course, there’s the classic Alien, which for all intents and purposes was the best of the bunch, but other than that the only one that stands out in my mind is Paul Anderson’s Event Horizon. I know what you’re thinking: “Paul Anderson? Isn’t he the guy that just recently directed the cinematic train wreck that was Alien Vs. Predator?” Yes, same guy. He’s also taken some liberties with the Resident Evil franchise with mixed results and, truth be told, hasn’t done anything too exciting for many, many years. Back in the mid to late Nineties things looked a lot brighter for him. After hitting Hollywood gold with his live action adaptation of the video game Mortal Kombat, Paul headed into deep space with a haunted house yarn that at times can be truly frightening. Mired in controversy because of heavy cuts, the film did okay theatrically, but fans wanted to see what was excised. Could this DVD be our chance? Well, yes and no. Let’s start off with the basic premise for the uninitiated.
Meet Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). In the –now– not so distant future the world is his oyster. Why? Because he has built a ship that can bend time and space. The ship was called the Event Horizon, and it housed a device that could create a black hole of sorts that would enable travel faster than the speed of light. Amazing, huh? It certainly looked good on paper. The trouble was that during the vessel’s maiden voyage once it entered its newly crafted black hole, it never came back out the other side. Seven years later a distress signal is sent out and picked up by a rescue team aboard the ship Lewis and Clark. The source of this transmission? The Event Horizon. Where’s it been all these years, or better yet, where has it gone? A crew headed up by Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller is sent to find out, and of course they have the good doctor in tow.
Once the ship has been located and boarded, strange things start occurring. Something has come back with the Event Horizon. Something that is alive and hungry for souls. Something — demonic.
Event Horizon seamlessly bends genres like the time and space it purportedly travels through. The result is a very spooky, action-packed ride. It’s all here: gore, ghosts, demons, and of course, hell. Hell in space? Sounds a little like Doom, but I can assure you Event Horizon has much more to do with Hellraiser and The Shining with just a touch of the original film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting than it does with that. The demons inhabiting the ship know what scares us and want us to suffer. The actors for the most part do everything right. There are no dumb or questionable reactions to the crazy shit that goes on. For instance when Captain Miller is asked what he intends on doing about the Event Horizon once it’s clear that he and his crew can evacuate safely, he turns and responds lovingly to the question by saying, “I have no intention of leaving her, Doctor. I will take the Lewis and Clark to a safe distance, and then I will launch TAC missiles at the Event Horizon until I’m satisfied she’s vaporized. Fuck this ship!” How can you not respect that?
Disturbing and perverse imagery litter the screen in rapid succession, but that’s also one of the film’s problems; things can seem a bit too rapid. It’s obvious a lot was filmed that never got to see the light of day, and that’s what we fans want to see. When it was announced that this film would be getting the stellar DVD treatment, fans were excited. It seemed as if finally we would be getting the blood-soaked goodies.
Sorry, but this doesn’t do it. It’s the same exact cut we’ve all seen countless times. Not a single thing has been added, changed, or taken away. Well, at least there’s a ton of supplemental material, right? Right! There is a lot, but that’s what is all the more infuriating about this release. During the nearly two-hour long, five-part documentary, The Making of Event Horizon, all of the extended goodness is talked about. In fact, a lot of time seems to have gone into making this documentary. Actors are brought back to talk about their experiences, effects people dig up some actual screen used film props, etc. This is great! Fantastic even! But where is the extra footage? Where is the gore?
Event Horizon was filmed during a time when the MPAA was just coming off of its cut-happy bitchfest, so a lot of scenes fell by the wayside. That coupled, with the fact that the powers that be at Paramount have been gore shy since they took heat for the original Friday the 13th of all things, make for a bit of a flaccid experience for splatter lovin’ fans.
We do get some glimpses though via a deleted scenes portion of the making-of. There’s a bit more of the torment of the original crew on display, a closer look at the evisceration of D.J. (Jason Isaacs) , and a truly strange spider-walk type scene that rivals the creepiness of the one in The Exorcist. More is mentioned, but apparently a lot of the footage was lost over the years. So my question becomes: Why not just add the few things that are still around back into the film? It’s not unheard of, and Paramount is no stranger to adding stuff to older films (i.e., the silly new version of the Walter Hill classic, The Warriors). I mean, come on, if enough time can be taken to construct a documentary that runs longer than the feature itself, would it have killed someone to release a more complete version of the film? Sigh. I guess we’ll still just have to wait. Maybe one day.
In addition to the making-of, this release sports an array of storyboards for the film (one set is even assembled as an un-filmed rescue sequence with commentary by Paul Anderson), various pieces of production art, theatrical and home video trailers, and of course a commentary in which Anderson once again talks about things we don’t get to see. I swear, it’s almost as if we’re being taunted.
All in all, the re-release of Event Horizon packs quite a bit of punch and is well worth the double dip if you’re a fan of the film. While it may be the same cut, both the image and sound have been dramatically cleaned up, and everything else is aces. Double dipping is almost a sin when it comes to DVD purchases. It can be costly and annoying. However, I have to say if a definitive cut of this film is ever made available, I’ll be first in line to get my hands on it. I’m fairly certain a lot of fans would be right behind me. Are you listening, Paul? Get Paramount on the phone STAT!
Commentary by director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt
The Making of Event Horizon, a five-part documentary: Into the Jaws of Darkness, The Body of the Beast, Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis, The Scale to Hell, The Womb of Fear
The Unseen Event Horizon: The un-filmed rescue scene; conceptual art, a montage of paintings and drawings of uniforms, ships, and more
The Point of No Return: The filming of Event Horizon featurette
Original theatrical trailer
Home video trailer
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