Event Horizon (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Once upon a time there were two movies, both considered masterpieces of their genre.

One was callied "Alien", a brilliantly realized visual masterpiece of a SF/Horror film from Ridley Scott, about a deep space mission that brought back an unwanted visitor.

The other film was called "Solaris", about a deep space mission that caused the crew to exhibit psychotic behavior and to keep living out scenes from their former lives on earth. Solaris, an intellectual film from the Soviet-era genius Andrei Tarkovsky, son of the brilliant but largely untranslated poet Arseny Tarkovsky, is the more complex film. It is not explained whether the hallucinations are caused by an external force from the planet, space fever, passage into a time-space warp, or just the fact that you can't ever run from yourself, not matter how far you go. There are no monsters.


When he isn't training for the Golden Gloves, the evil alien uses the crewmembers' own memories against them, and the captain keeps seeing the most important woman in his life, lost to him through suicide, for which he blames himself.  Luckily, he chooses to see her topless (Holley Chant)

By the way, don't go out and rent Solaris because of what I've said. Although it sounds like a good idea, and film critics have a way of giving Solaris a lot of stars, I always caution people that Tarkovsky's movies are almost unwatchable for the average viewer. Let me tell you a story. I re-watched Tarkovsky's "Nostalgiya" recently in fast forward, at 8X speed. Even at that, the actors seem to be moving in slow motion. And I'm not joking. This is literally true. I checked my DVD player to see if it was playing properly. Tarkovsky's concept of a two hour film is two minutes worth of plot, two minutes worth of action, a little bit of philosophical dialogue, and 116 minutes worth of atmosphere. Brilliant imagery and mood, but pacing so languid he makes an Ingmar Bergman movie seem like MTV.

"Event Horizon", directed by "the other Paul Anderson" - the same man who did Resident Evil - is a hybrid of these two legendary deep-space films. The monstrous entity is there, but it inhabits the minds of the crew, learns everything about them, every fear, every memory, and causes their insanity. Who or what is it exactly? They postulated an interesting possibility. Sartre once said that "hell is other people", but the argument here is that we have seen the devil and he is us - or at least a combination of a malicious external force and the worst of ourselves. The idea was pretty damned good, the special effects and visuals were brilliant, and they hired a good cast. Some of the moments will scare the beejeepers out of you. Think of the concept as Solaris with some action, which sounds good in theory.

Unfortunately, the execution failed because they dumbed it down.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen letterboxed, 2.35

  • no features

The flaws of the movie can best be summed up with a summary of one scene - the all-powerful alien life-form takes over a body of one crewmember, and has a fist fight with another crewmember. Kinda says it all, doesn't it? Imagine God appearing to Moses and Moses challenging him to a fistfight, and you get the general idea.

They they went over the top in some other ways. Too many explosions (you know those Yanks) -   too many empty-headed discussions about what man was or wasn't meant to know - and ultimately too little really original.  

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2/4, BBC 3/5, Apollo 49/100. Ebert had a funny line about this movie - plenty of foreboding, plenty of afterboding, not enough actual boding

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: it grossed a respectable $47 million worldwide - $26 million in the USA and $20 million overseas.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Reviewers were sharply divided on this film. Some genre lovers said it was a truly brilliant scare-fest, others thought is was a zero-star waste of their precious time. I don't know. It could'a been a contender, should'a been, came close, but isn't a crossover success.

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