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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Horror > Action > Event Horizon - Special Collector's Edition (Paramount DVD Set)

Event Horizon – Special Collector’s Edition (1997/Paramount DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B     Extras: B     Film: B



NOTE: This film has now been issued on Blu-ray and you can read more about that upgraded version at this link:





Though it went by so fast that no one noticed that 1997 was a big year for the Science Fiction film.  There was the laid back (and overrated) Gattaca that received all kinds of raves, yet is not discussed much.  George Lucas reissued Star Wars in a restored print that now amounts to several changes ago.  Then there were three films that went out of their way to combine Science Fiction and Horror.  Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Alien Resurrection was the most explicitly humorous, offering Sigourney Weaver, but not too many places to go.  Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers was a send-up of Fascism as giant extra-terrestrial insects battled the human race back on earth and was as darkly humorous as it was prophetic, even if critics missed the point.  Then there was Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon, the darkest and bloodiest of all the films.


Of all the films above, it had the least commercial and critical success, yet those who saw it and appreciated it knew what a remarkable film it was.  Nine years later, the following and acknowledgement of how ahead of its time it really was is evidenced in Paramount’s new 2 DVD Special Collector’s Edition.  The film has built up to being a constant rating winner and video seller, so Paramount has made a move conceding how popular the film is and that status only continues to grow.


The film stars Sam Neill as Dr. William Weir, a man haunted by his past and nightmares.  A gothic ship called The Event Horizon has gone missing and the last transmission is so static and bizarre, that those in power are willing to send another ship to investigate.  Headed up by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and a bonded, reliable crew (played by a great cast including Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Jason Issacs, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Sean Pertwee and Peter Marinker) seems more than equipped to get the job done.  Unfortunately, the same dark force that consumed the first ship and its crew is waiting to destroy them on every level and the result will be a living hell.


These days, just about every film in the genre promises that, then delivers something akin to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, but Event Horizon nearly received an X-rating for its blood, guts, gore and thematic mix of shock, action and exceptionally well-written storyline by screenwriter Philip Eisner.  The film delivers the goods the way commercial Hollywood films used to when they tried.  Add Anderson’s love of the genres here and the results of this film produce a brilliant, cutting-edge mix of so many great parts that it can still jolt and audience and the film world is still catching up with it.  Up there with John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing (1982) as a film that pulls no punches in its depiction of a graphic, creepy horror that never quits once it gets started.  Is this force supernatural, or just reading the centuries of taught guilt and many religions deeply imbedded in the human psyche after centuries of evolution and somehow surviving as a species against all odds.  The story and images dig deep into that psyche, even if a few items are more derivative than one would like.


When it is, however, it is really good at it.  Films that loom over this one include the original Haunting from 1963, Ken Russell’s Altered States, Carpenter’s The Thing, Ridley Scott’s Alien and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.  However, instead of the digital-era hacks who confuse stealing with influence and are clueless as to the term homage, the love of the past films is only equaled by the energy to aspire to their best dynamics.  You could do an essay on other subtle intertexual references, intended by the filmmakers and not, but it was enough that Anderson is now the hottest commercial director in the genre.  He is the one who finally gets Alien vs. Predator (reviewed elsewhere on this site) done after years of turn around, has already made Mortal Combat a film success, put Resident Evil on the map when the producers unfortunately lost George Romero and is about to remake Death Race 2000 (also reviewed on this site) as Death Race (almost entitled Death Race 3000 now also out on Blu-ray and DVD, which you’ll find elsewhere on this site)   This film essentially set him for life in the genre and is at least a minor classic in the genres it covers.  Thanks to this new set, the influence can only grow.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot by the late, great Adrian Biddle, B.S.C., in real anamorphic Panavision.  This is one of the most distinctive works in a career of many that includes the remarkable V For Vendetta as his final masterwork of cinematic imagery.  It is a great-looking film with exceptional editing, production design, visual effects, art direction and other clever details that make it rich and unique in the genre.  There is even some early digital computer-generated effects, but most of this is not digital and that is one of the reasons it holds up so well.  It reminds us why great model work means something.  The transfer here is not bad, but has some detail issues, Video Black is a tad off and the framing is off a bit, losing a sliver of information on either side.


The sound is here in Dolby Digital 5.1 and though it is not noted anywhere on the packaging, an even better DTS 5.1 mix is also here as rumored and it is rich, thicker and more effective than either Dolby 5.1 (English, French) mix.  In all cases, however, there is a slight pulling towards the center channel of the entire mix, which throws off the soundfield a bit.  Though only Dolby’s logo appears in the end credits, but this was a DTS theatrical release and this critic screened it as such.  It was only the studio’s 19th DTS release, though the format was around a few years.  Michael Kamen composed the music with Orbital and the end theme by Prodigy is, shall we say, unforgettable for all kinds of reasons.  This was just before this kind of hardcore Electronica went widespread.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary by Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt on DVD 1, plus theatrical trailer, video trailer and four featurettes.  One is on the making of the film in five sections, a Secrets section with one deleted (the only one with the original production audio) and two extended scenes that are really good with commentary by Anderson on all, The Unseen Event Horizon offers storyboards for an unfilmed rescue scene and conceptual art that shaped the film and Point Of No Return featurette in four parts again with Anderson commentary that shows the technical making in new ways that give further insight into just what a remarkable production this is.


Anderson said some items like film clips were not saved because it was not the DVD era, but it was the LaserDisc era and plenty of special editions were being made in that format.  However, this is a terrific set of extras for a film that is finally getting its due.  Event Horizon – Special Collector’s Edition remains a decent DVD set even with the Blu-ray in stores, but if you have a Blu-ray player, you’ll want that version more.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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