8. Event Horizon (1997)
While in high school I worked in movie theaters. Over three years I worked my way up from an usher, to a doorman, a concession stand cashier, supervisor, projectionist, and finally an assistant manager.
And through my short career I never saw anything like Event Horizon.
A unique twist on the tired haunted house formula, Event Horizon replaced the cobweb filled mansion with a blood drenched spaceship. The rest of the film practically writes itself.
The Event Horizon is a specially designed ship, the first of it’s kind, able to travel to the farthest reaches of the galaxy through the generation of artificial black holes. At least it was, until the ship went missing on it’s maiden voyage.
Seven years later, cue an emergency rescue mission lead by Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne) and his crew to recover the mysterious ship which has suddenly appeared outside of Neptune. On-board with his experienced crew is Dr. Weir (Sam Niel) , the Event Horizon’s creator and designer of it’s experimental gravity drive.
Once the derelict Event Horizon is located, docked with, and gravity and power are restored, Miller and his crew discover the ship has no survivors, only corpsicles mutilated beyond recognition. Further research into ship’s data banks recovers log’s of the ship’s journey inter-cut with disturbing scenes of gory massacre. It doesn’t take Miller long to declare, “the ship is fucked” and to abandon it before his crew suffers the same fate as the original.
But the cursed Event Horizon won’t them go as accident after accident seem hellbent on stranding Miller within the confines of the ship. But Dr. Weir is glad to be back home and gouges out his eyes to becomes an agent for the Horizon.
Looking back today, Event Horizon is a little hokey at times and hasn’t aged in the best way possible if I am going to be honest. Though the film has become a cult favorite recently with fans with good taste.
Which brings me back to my high old school job. At my theater, this film was NOTORIOUS for being so disturbing that multiple people every showing would come back to the box office asking for refunds 30 minutes in. That first week, every single showing had at least one person walking out, as the film was simply too much for them. I have never seen another movie disturb customers as much as Even Horizon.
Most people don’t know this, but every Thursday night, before the new releases come out on Fridays projectionists are expected to watch new prints of shows after hours to make sure the film stock is free of scratches and blemishes. Early in the morning. In an empty theater. Not a soul around.
Our projectionist, who shall remain nameless, was unable to finish the whole movie and walked out himself rather than finish Even Horizon. Wow.
What makes the film so scary? The setting is brilliant. As another famous movie is quoted as saying, In space, no one can hear your scream.”and Event Horizon leverages that cold and lonely setting for all it’s worth. There is no sheriff or neighbors nearby to call for help in this film. The ship itself was designed to look like a Gothic cathedral which is a smart move. There’s a scene early on with Dr. Weir looking out a window into space as the camera pulls back in a slow circle that gave everybody in the audience an IMAX like sensation of vertigo which is sadly impossible to duplicate at home.
But what freaks people out the most are quick cuts of the lost crew demonically killing each other in an orgy of violence. All while reciting a creepy passage in Latin. Seriously, these shorts cuts are of a rape filled bloody orgy. If you freeze frame on these subliminal timed scenes you’ll see the crew bending each other over on their consoles along with orifice impaled corpses covered in maggots.
Do you see? DO YOU SEE? (warning: VERY NSFW)
FUN FACT: The original cut was 130 minutes long but was cut by 30 minutes after test audiences and producers thought the film was overly violent. Director Paul W.S. Anderson cut out many of the gorier scenes but now regrets his decision.