Back for another helping of horror in June after the excesses of May’s Paracinema event, Fright Club headed back 21 years to late 90s space shocker Event Horizon. Here is Cult Film Historian Darrell Buxton’s introduction.
Hello and welcome to QUAD for tonight’s Fright Club excursion into outer space. Later this year QUAD will be starting a new regular addition to the programme, showcasing and reviving movies from the 1990s – always ahead of the game here at Fright Club, we’re getting in there first this evening with 1997 science fiction shocker EVENT HORIZON.
Now we normally like to present full movies to you – but as you may be aware, that seems to be an impossibility where EVENT HORIZON as concerned. The film was planned as a substantially longer offering from Paramount Studios. Paramount were also co-funding James Cameron’s TITANIC, handling the North American release of that blockbuster – TITANIC was scheduled for a big summer opening on July 2nd, but the release was pushed back to Christmas week when Cameron’s shooting schedule overran. The studio now had a hole in its summer release roster, and began putting pressure on director Paul Anderson to rush EVENT HORIZON to completion, to help fill the iceberg-sized gap. In their panic, Paramount’s executives also decided to interfere with the editing of EVENT HORIZON, and Anderson’s intent to make this into a big extravaganza was curtailed, with the film being slashed to a 96-minute running time.
Anderson was forced into assembling a director’s cut of the film to screen to test audiences, but in the rush his two hour and ten minute version was a fairly ragged affair, with several substandard acting or special effects takes included. Those viewers who saw that early, messy version responded negatively, not surprisingly, and Paramount hacked the film down to 96 minutes – Anderson himself had wanted it to run at about one hour fifty, but was stuck with the truncated studio cut. The movie became quite a hit on home video, leading Paramount to consider issuing an extended release – but by the time they got round to thinking that way, the deleted footage seems to have been lost or destroyed. Some snippets have resurfaced over the years, and if you check YouTube you’ll find a few of the missing moments. Something to do when you get home.
In 2012 it was announced that producer Lloyd Levin had located a videocassette containing the full version of the movie, but last year Anderson confirmed that the tape was unusable as a source for restoring the film, so it seems we’ll have to settle for what we already have.
Not that that is altogether bad news, though. EVENT HORIZON in its existing form is a visual feast, and features a host of heavyweight acting talent at its heart. Sam Neill, always so good at playing ‘everyman’ type characters, and equally effective portraying silky smooth villains in the James Mason mould, gets a chance to go to town here – Neill goes full-on in a way that we’re more used to seeing from an Anthony Perkins or Nicolas Cage, and is so great that I wish he’d done more of these over-the-top roles during his career. Larry Fishburne, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs and the ever-dependable Sean Pertwee do their stuff, keeping the momentum going, and Anderson provides a mixture of tension, mystery, action, metaphysics, and shocks. The film has been described as ‘HELLRAISER in space’, and whoever said that isn’t far wrong.
Director Anderson has rather specialised in big-budget’ high concept horror, fantasy and science fiction over the years, being the main man behind the successful RESIDENT EVIL franchise and having also directed the likes of MORTAL KOMBAT, SOLDIER, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, and DEATH RACE. It’s reported that he will be tackling another videogame adaptation soon with a proposed cinema version of MONSTER HUNTER. He’s perhaps best described as “the Michael Bay it’s ok to like”, and although his films are never going to win highbrow critical acclaim, they are rarely dull. Even in its somewhat compromised form, EVENT HORIZON is a feast for the eyes and looks fantastic on the big screen – and considering it is a major studio item, tampered with by the suits and far from how the director originally intended, it contains more than its share of truly shocking gory imagery and plenty of surprises. So, spacesuits on, all aboard the Lewis & Clark – we’re heading towards Neptune… and possibly beyond.
Upcoming Fright Club screenings:
The Invisible Man / The Invisible Man Returns – Friday 15th June at 8:30pm
House Of 1000 Corpses – Saturday 28th July at 8:45pm
Blessed Are The Children – Friday 3rd August at 8:45pm
Crispy’s Curse – Friday 28th September at 8:45pm