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Event Horizon is the best horror movie in space to ever flop at the box office
Before Laurence Fishburne went to The Matrix and after Sam Neill went to Jurassic Park, the director of all those Resident Evil movies brought these two men together, along with a host of others, to make one of the best space horror movies ever to flop in theaters: Event Horizon.
The summer of 1997 was an ... interesting time for genre. Spawn made his way to theaters. Disney struggled with Hercules. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage took their faces ... off. Batman and Robin were more nipply than ever. And of course, here come the Men in Black: they won't let you remember <clap> <clap>.
In the midst of all of that there was a certain ship that was supposed to be launched. And that ship was James Cameron's Titanic. If you know your cinematic history, though, you remember that Titanic didn't actually see release until Dec. 19, 1997. It was delayed because it simply wasn't ready.
Titanic's absence made room for another ship in the summer of '97. A spaceship. A spaceship from hell. The Event Horizon.
While the opportunity to make the Philip Eisner-scripted film was exciting for Paul W.S. Anderson, it also created a little slice of hell all its own for the still relatively green director. Having a sudden and unexpected summer slot for your movie to be released in means rushing production and editing. Rushing production and editing on a horror movie set in space where there are spiky death spheres, meat grinder hallways, people on fire, and, of course, a host of elaborate body mutilations is not easy.
But for all the complexity of production and for the unfortunate box-office failure, Event Horizon remains an achievement in horror filmmaking. It's often still regarded as one of Paul W.S. Anderson's best films and went on to be one of the last big hits of the rental era before VHS breathed its last gasp in the wake of the mighty DVD.
X horror movie goes to space is a thing. Leprechaun has been to space. Jason Voorhees has been to space. And, in fact, Pinhead and the cenobites went to space only a year before Event Horizon's release with Hellraiser: Bloodlines.
Despite all that, and even despite the obvious inspirations drawn from Alien and The Shining, Event Horizon is a truly unique film. It's a Lovecraftian nightmare set in the vacuum of space with just the right blend of action set pieces and true moments of dread to make it entertaining in a way entirely unto itself.
Yes, both Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill star, but Kathleen Quinlan, Sean Pertwee, and a very pre-Lucious Malfoy Jason Isaacs all turn in excellent performances.
With all that in mind, we begin our 13 Days of Halloween podcast series with a conversation about Event Horizon, about the scenes, the lines, and the gore that make it so memorable. On our inaugural episode, the podcast is joined by three critics who are no strangers to B-movie fun: Allison Pregler, Phelan Porteous, and Mathew Buck.
That's our first episode. Stay tuned for our next episode, when author of The Company of Death Elisa Hansen and co-host of The Apocalist Book Club Antonella Inserra join the show to talk about the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!