Event Horizon: 20 Things You Never Knew About THE Cult Sci-Fi Horror
As we approach Halloween, it’s the perfect time to look back at some of the films that terrified us when we were in our teens.
In the late 90s, Event Horizon hit cinemas and made a huge impact with its style of haunted house in space as a crew on board a space ship are slowly driven towards hell itself in the form of the titular Event Horizon.
The film featured some great actors, jump scares and plenty of blood and gore, so let’s take a look back at Event Horizon with some facts you may not have known.
20. The original cut was a lot more violent
The original cut of Event Horizon was a half-hour longer than the theatrical version at 130 minutes, much of which featured heavy scares and lots of gory violence.
It was too much for test audiences, with viewers and the studio alike balking at the gruesome content.
Paramount made Paul WS Anderson cut 30 minutes of the film, and he reluctantly obliged.
However, he recently revealed that this is a decision he has come to regret.
Anderson claimed that due to the changes, he felt the essence of the film was lost.
19. The spacesuits were so heavy the actors had to rest in special hanging poles between takes
The spacesuits created for Event Horizon were incredibly heavy at about 30 kilograms (4.5 stones) each.
Due to this weight, it was difficult for the cast to stand in them for long without injuring their back.
However, the large rucksack prevented them from sitting down in them.
The solution was to have the cast suspended in their suits from special hanging poles between takes.
According to the cast members, Laurence Fishburne nicknamed his suit Doris.
18. Anderson turned down a chance to direct the first X-Men to make Event Horizon
Paul Anderson was offered the chance to direct the first X-Men film, but turned it down for Event Horizon.
After directing Mortal Kombat, he felt he needed to direct a movie that was more mature and gruesome.
Anderson wanted to attract a different type of audience, generally older than Mortal Kombat viewers, for which the rating was PG-13.
The initial rough cut of Event Horizon received the kiss-of-death NC-17 rating.
Upon its release, it was an R-rated movie in the US, and an 18 in the UK.
17. There are nods to the video game Doom
Doom is a first-person shooter-style game franchise, with the first in the series released in 1993.
Near the start of Event Horizon, Doctor Weir opens the blinds in his room and a whining noise is heard.
The sound effect is taken from the sound effect of doors opening in the video game Doom, which also sees an adventure in space in which Hell is unleashed.
There is also a nod to Blade Runner, which was released in 1982 and starred Harrison Ford.
This is seen when Cooper activates his jet pack to get back to the Event Horizon, and ‘Purge’ appears in the control.
16. One shot cost a third of the entire special effects budget
Early on in the film, there is a shot of the space station above the Earth, which pulls back further and further to show the full structure.
The shot lasted for just 45 seconds, and yet entailed a lot of effort.
This shot took 10 weeks to achieve and used almost a third of the special effects budget for the movie.
This means that this sequence alone cost a whopping $12 million to produce.
Looking at the final footage, we can safely say their efforts were well worth it!
15. The film was complete just ten months after it was green-lit
For such a complex and effects-heavy movie, Event Horizon was completed incredibly quickly.
In fact, it took just 10 months from being green-lit to being completed in its entirety.
The movie was green-lit just ten weeks before production was due to begin, meaning the crew struggled with the preparations.
Short on time, the production design ended up being unnecessarily rushed, resulting in many many leading production designers turning the film down.
In the end Joseph Bennett took on the role, and was left with the task of finding a British crew who could build the set in just four weeks.
14. The film was a critical and commercial flop on release
When it was first released, Event Horizon was met with mediocre reviews and from audiences and critics alike.
This made the film a pariah at the American box office, where it made back less than half of its $60 million budget.
Critic Roger Ebert claimed that ‘the script creates a sense of foreboding and after-boding, but no actual boding.’
Since its initial slow reception, however, Event Horizon has gained a sizeable cult following.
So much so, that the film is now considered one of the most notable examples of sci-fi horror.
13. Kurt Russell predicted the film’s eventual success
Despite its initial flop, director Anderson would later claim that the film’s cult status was predicted to him by Kurt Russell.
According to Anderson, Russell told him: ‘Forget about what this movie’s doing now. In 15 years’ time, this is going to be the movie you’re glad you made’.
Coproducer Jeremy Bold later reflected on the film’s production, saying ‘I knew it was damn good, and Paul was on fire. I mean, literally. The creativity from him was pretty astonishing.’
However, he was all to aware of the negative backlash the film received, stating that he couldn’t explain its poor reception.
Referring to the films now-cult status, he said ‘it’s extremely gratifying that people have discovered it, and like it, and that it’s referenced quite a lot now’.
12. Clive Barker contributed to the story
Event Horizon took inspiration from many avenues, one being the classic Clive Barker horror Hellraiser.
Fortunately for Anderson, the horror writer was on hand during pre-production to consult and offer advice to the director.
If you’ve seen both movies, you might have noticed that there are many similarities between the two.
There also an acknowledgment of another film, in that the model of the Event Horizon includes a complete ‘X-Wing’ from Star Wars as part of an antenna array.
The model is visible on the lower portion of the Event Horizon during the first flyby by the Lewis & Clark.
11. The film foretold the future
The world’s current state of affairs might have come as a surprise, but it seems the film’s producers might have had an inkling of what was to come.
In the film, all of the characters wear badges with their country’s flags on.
Characters portrayed by British actors wear a European Union flag with 22 stars, replacing the former Union Flag. Was this a foretelling of Brexit?!
As well as this, American actors’ characters wear a flag of the United States with 55 stars.
Sam Neill’s character wears a modified Australian flag, with the Union Jack removed from the top left-hand corner, bearing the Aboriginal flag instead.
10. The cut footage is probably lost forever
According to Anderson, one year after the film’s release, John Goldwyn, head of production at Paramount, revealed that he felt the movie was lacking in substance.
He claimed that the studio wanted him to make the longer version as he had initially intended.
Together, Anderson and Jeremy Bolt decided to search for the lost footage, venturing around the world in their efforts.
They located some of the films, many of which were located in bizarre places such as in an abandoned Transylvanian salt mine.
However, they soon realised that due to the film having been released only in VHS form, that many of the tapes had been lost or destroyed.
9. There were problems with the footage that was recovered
Although Anderson and Bold managed to retrieve some of the footage, much of this was damaged or otherwise degraded.
Some the surviving scenes, including a scene where Dr. Weir is informed of the re-appearance of the Event Horizon, are featured on the Special Collector’s Edition DVD, and survived only in videotape form.
Some of the scenes were without dialogue or sound effects. The DVD also includes storyboards of of a space walk sequence which was ultimately abandoned due to budget constraints.
An alternate ending was also featured on the DVD, and was narrated by Anderson himself.
A VHS copy of a rough edit did eventually resurface, however Anderson revealed that this version was too heavily damaged and had to be thrown away.
8.Philip Eisner wrote the movie after a family tragedy
After suffering a tragedy in his family, Eisner tried to force himself back into work.
He had recently entered a multi-picture writing agreement, and in his efforts, he pitched the idea of ‘The Shining in space’.
The studio were receptive to the idea, but unfortunately Eisner’s delicate mental state led to writer’s block.
The studio executive who had originally brought him on board soon became a close personal friend and helped keep Eisner on track.
Luckily, Eisner’s first draft was enthusiastically received by the studio.
7. The film was released earlier than expected because Titanic was delayed
Event Horizon was released by Paramount, who was also the studio behind Titanic.
The production of the latter was plagued with delays, meaning that its release date had to be postponed.
Titanic was originally set to be released in July 1997, but due to the delays, it deferred until December.
This left Paramount with a gap in its summer movie schedule, so they proposed to Anderson that Event Horizon could be released in this slot.
This was just one condition: he would have to meet the August deadline, meaning the filming and production schedule was incredibly rushed.
6. The film is full of hellish symbolism
Every angle of the ship was intended to to invoke images of hell, with the dark and ominous appearance of the ship only aided by the abundant use of blood and guts.
When Katherine Quinlan’s character runs through the portals chasing her ghostly son, they are shaped like coffins.
This foreshadows the deaths that are to come. As well as this, the airlock that Lewis and Clark docks in is Roman numeral 13.
The rotating corridor that separated the drive from the rest of the ship symbolises Dante’s nine circles of Hell.
These nine circles consist of Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.
5. The infamous ‘blood orgy’ scene was originally much longer
I think we can all agree that Event Horizon is already violent enough.
However, in the original version of the ‘blood orgy’ scene, there was even more violence.
In the director’s cut, there was more of the crew assaulting and eating each other, and an even more graphic version of the man taking out his own innards.
In the original blood orgy scene, one girl had screws drilled into her teeth, whilst another crew member’s legs were repeatedly hit by steel, causing them to shatter.
Another woman, meanwhile, would have her breasts mauled and torn off, resulting in a mass of blood and gore.
4. The producers hired amputees and porn stars to make the blood orgy scene as realistic as possible
One of the reasons why the blood orgy scene disturbed audiences so much is because, in order to make the scene as life-like as possible, the producers went to extreme measures.
They actually hired actors who had undergone amputation, making some gory scenes even more realistic.
They also wanted to make the rape and violent sex scenes authentic, and made a rather unusual decision in order to achieve this.
The actors who played the characters were in fact porn stars, who were able to make the scene look even more graphic.
According to the producers, some audiences even fainted during the test screening.
3. The actors made up their characters’ backstories
In order for the actors to feel a connection to their characters, they were asked to create a backstory for them.
Jason Isaacs, who played D.J, based his character on his brother, who was also a doctor.
In his backstory, it was revealed that D.J had undergone extensive surgery as a child, which would explain the scars on his chest, as well as the flashbacks in which he was cut open.
Isaacs took quite a shine to the dummy of his character with its chest cut open, even going so far as to ask the special effects department if he could take it home.
They were shocked by this request, and told him they still needed the dummy, despite filming having already been completed.
2. The film had an unusual soundtrack
Anderson had initially hired British band Orbital to compose the music for the film.
Apparently, he had been wanting work with them ever since they had been featured in his second movie, Mortal Kombat.
Executives at Paramount were skeptical, feeling that the band were too unknown for such a big budget film.
Anderson then approached Michael Kamen, proposing that he collaborate with the band.
This resulted in a unique fusion of orchestral and techno, creating a suspenseful and ominous atmosphere.
1. The Event Horizon was based on Notre Dame cathedral
The Event Horizon had a unique shape, but it was not as original as you might have thought…
In fact, the ship was actually modelled on Notre Dame cathedral in Paris (before it burnt down, obviously).
Its long corridor resembles a church nave, whilst its interior is filled with cruciforms, columns and vaults, and its engines resembles resembled rotated church towers.
The whole movie was produced entirely in the UK, including the special effects.
Filming took up seven sound stages at Pinewood studios outside London, and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut was being filmed in the adjacent rooms.