Continuing with the current Horror theme for this year’s reviews, I have to present one of the most polarizing films of it’s time for scifi/horror.  This is one that most people either absolutely love or hate with a passion.  Seeing that it blends two of my favorite film genres, Horror and Scifi, I happen to fall in the former.

Today’s Key Movie:

After a mission starship returns from it’s disappearance into a black hole some years earlier, The Crew of the USS Lewis and Clark set out to discover what happened to this missing ship and her crew.  Soon they discover that the USS Event Horizon has brought something back with it, something frightening.  With a top notch cast including Sam Neill, Lawrence Fishburne, Jason Issacs and Sean Pertwee this is Paul Anderson’s Event Horizon.

Why this movie?

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Imagine a previously missing ghost ship reappears out of nowhere with no explanation of what happened to the crew only to discover that the ship (and it’s crew) came back from the depths of hell itself.   The concept of missing and ghost ships is not a new one and has intrigued people for centuries.    There are real life analogies like the Mary Celeste which was a perfectly fictional ship found missing it’s entire crew with little to no sign of struggle. To this day, no one really knows what happened to the Celeste or her crew yet many have made speculations. Many more ships have fallen a similar fate adding on to the legacies of places like The Bermuda Triangle.  It is doubtful that these ships were a part of any mysterious experiments (that we know of) but their mystery lives on through the absence of information fueling the deep fear of the unknown that human kind is driven by. As a species, we like a mysteries, we love puzzles and It is that the mystery of the missing that gives stories like these a much more impactful nature, something that gets under our skin.

I remember the first time I saw this one.  It was in the local movie theater and frankly everyone I know was talking about this strange gory film that scared them half to death.  Of course, I had to go see it and soon discovered that this film was something special.  Having been a fan of films like Hellraiser and Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, this is one that fit right in to my favorite genres blending Scifi and Horror in a way that had not been done quite to this level before.  Needless to say, this one was burned into my mind and has been one of my favorites to this day.  It is dark, it is gruesome and man is it intense.

You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?

As I watched this film again for this review, I realized something interesting.  In many ways, this is a modern remake of the Disney Classic The Black Hole.  Many of the elements, from the discovery of a missing space ship to the dive into hell itself to even the use of a Black Hole are represented in Event Horizon.  While this is a much darker interpretation of similar events, with a very Clive Barker-esque twist at the end, the basic premise is here making me want a proper remake of The Black Hole all the more.

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Everyone, Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill and the rest of the cast, really do all they can to make this a film worth watching.   There is not a moment from any of the actors that is unbelievable or over done in any way.  If anything, the actors abilities in this film make it even more frightening as they are fully relatable and completely believable characters in an extreme situation. Sam Neill echos his role from In the Mouth of Madness but takes that apocalyptic insanity into space this time.  This films shows that Neill really had a penchant for horror and scifi that, outside of a few roles, he never really dove into which is a shame really.  They guy does genre films almost too well.

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Fishburne is, as always, perfect in every way.  The man has it where it counts and boy does he own his role as Captain of the Lewis and Clark. We get some hints of the classic Morpheus in this role as well with his very concise and intense nature as the man in charge. Through out the film you can tell his character has been through a lot but not once does he lose control or show any signs of weakness even when faced with the horrors of his past.  Fishburne once again, owns his role in every way.  Interestingly, this is one of both Jason Isaacs and Sean Pertwee’s earlier major motion picture roles.  Sean Pertwee also happens to be the son of Jon Pertwee who played the third Doctor on the British tv series Doctor Who.

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To me, this is Paul WS Anderson’s finest work.  It is a wonderfully paced and well acted film that gives us just enough to be scary but always holding back enough to keep it from falling into the campy nature of his later works in the Resident Evil franchise. One thing I love about this film is the stark realism of the future it presents.  This is not the shiny, sleek, ultra designed future that many of our scifi films present, instead it is a rough realistic view of space travel with all of the grit and grime humans tend to carry with them.  This aesthetic gives the film a much more gritty realism that was seen previously in films like that of the Alien franchise and Blade Runner, in a way making them that much more relatable than the ultra clean futures depicted in Star Trek and, to some degree, Star Wars.

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Additionally, the level of detail put into this film is nothing short of astonishing.  This film represents a great example of world building  with subtle things throughout that give the universe of Event Horizon a much deeper history.   From the patches on the characters arms to even the t-shirts the crew wears, there are subtle but important points that subconsciously makes the viewers feel as if they are in a living breathing world.  These details include flags of future versions of countries like a US flag with 55 stars and even an updated British Union flag among others.

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One of the coolest and most subtle of details is on the tee-shirts of each of the crew members. Each member wears a shirt that not only has their names but their ranks, social security numbers, assignment, DNA type, Blood type and more in essence replacing the use of dog tags as part of their actual uniforms.   I love details like this in films and for Anderson to care enough about this story to include subtle but important call-outs makes this much more than just a run-of-the-mill scifi movie.

Overall, this is a vastly underappreciated masterpiece that should have the same popularity as that of Alien and Hellraiser as it blends the two in such a perfect way.  While I know the production of the film was rushed and there is supported to be an even more gruesome cut in existence, to me any more would be almost too much.  This is probably one of the rare examples of a studio forcing a Director to rush a film that ended up being pretty solid thanks to their interference.  Anderson tends to go a little too far with his visuals and this shows that he just needs a little help editing with his particular directorial style.

OK, where do I get this movie?

You can pick this one up for around $10 to $12 on bluray and, in all honesty, it is well worth the purchase.  If you like horror, or scifi or both, this is one you should add to your collection.  Trust me, it’s pretty darn cool.

Late To The Game 3/26/2020

If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.

For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

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