Unfortunately, I'm coming down with Mary's strep throat, or whatever Andromeda Strain she brought home from school last week, so I wasn't up to sitting through and summarizing a movie as I'd planned. However, s.z. has come to the rescue with a piece she wrote for our chapter on Black Hole phenomena, tentatively titled Movies That Suck So Hard Even Light Can't Escape Them.
As I mentioned on the Mike & Ike podcast, this movie should be avoided for three to five weeks after undergoing Lasik surgery, and is contraindicated for patients suffering from glaucoma, conjunctivitis, or good taste.
Event Horizon (1997)
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by Philip Eisner
Welcome aboard the rescue ship Lewis & Clarke. Our captain is Laurence Fishburne, an efficient, no-nonsense, irritable guy who says stuff like "I do mind if you get dressed! Let’s go, people!" Our crew of stereotypes consists of Macho Chick, Teenage Geek, Single Mother, Angry Skinhead, Funny Black Guy, and Token Smart Person. Julie will be our cruise director, Isaac will be our bartender, and we’ll be playing the part of the disappointed multiplex customer who thought our friends were talking us to see the Paul Thomas Anderson film, Boogie Nights.
The unwelcome guest on the mission is Sam Neill, for whom the crew feels instant hostility because of that whole Omen III/antichrist thing. We in the audience have some concerns about Sam’s mental stability due to his hallucinations about his wife coming back from the dead with a really bad case of pink eye. Apparently, in 2047 NASA no longer has Dr. Bellows doing psychological screenings before sending people into space.
Once we are outside Neptune, Sam explains why we had to come "a billion clicks" from the nearest restroom: because a transmission from the Event Horizon was recently detected. The crew finds this hard to believe, since they know from the opening titles that the Event Horizon exploded seven years ago. So, Sam gives them the real back-story, which he saw in the trailer. The Event Horizon didn’t really blow up, it disappeared; and it wasn’t really a research ship, it was a faster-than-light secret government project, and Sam invented it. Macho Chick heckles Sam, stating that relativity says that nothing can go faster than light, and relativity won’t let you go out for recess if you don’t do what it says. Sam claims that relativity isn’t the boss of him, and he demonstrates by poking holes in a Pam Anderson centerfold.
Once everybody understands how to fold space/time with porn, Sam plays the transmission, which consists of high-pitched, ear-piercing gibberish and squeals. But underneath the Mariah Carrey song, you can hear a voice intoning something in Latin, the international language of creepiness. Smart Guy translates the message as "Save me" —- which is kind of lame as messages from space go, but probably better than "Mars needs women."
And where has the ship been for the past seven years? Sam says that’s what they’re there to find out, since the Event Horizon’s library books are WAY over due.
They dock with the Event Horizon and everything is "five by five," which is apparently future-speak for "twenty-five." A scan reveals trace life forms through out the ship, which means, of course, that it is haunted, so Laurence, Single Mother, and Teen Geek take the Mystery Mobile right over. Single Mother is startled by a floating dead body with its eyes ripped out, but it’s apparently just an audience member from the movie’s test screening, so nobody pays it much mind.
Teen Geek explores the core of the energy drive, a big interlocking sprocket set with a magic mirror from Romper Room in the center. Teen naturally sticks his hand into the mirror, and gets sucked in! Globs of gunk come flying out and cause an explosion on the Lewis & Clarke, resulting in a hull breech, trash fires, and a general lack of "five by five."
Laurence orders everybody over to the Event Horizon until their ship can be repaired or they all die, whichever comes first. Skinhead predicts that bad things will happen, and sure enough, Teen Geek suddenly reappears, and he’s even more sullen than before. Or possibly possessed. But when Funny Black Guy tells Sam about the strange event, Sam says it’s not physically possible. "Don’t start in with that physics shit!" shouts FBG, who apparently got his Astronaut certification at a liberal arts college.
Sam cleverly avoids scientific stuff by mentioning that the Event Horizon’s drive works by creating a black hole. "The most destructive force in the universe!" explains Macho Chick for the benefit anyone who didn’t see the Maximilian Schell epic. Laurence orders the core sealed off so it can do no further damage. However, a close-up of Sam reveals that he’s got core in his eye, so it’s already too late. Let the terror begin!
Single Mother is alone in a dark, deserted lab when she sees an eerie container. She throws off the cover to find her son, the one whom she felt guilty about leaving to go to work. And he has icky sores on his legs — no doubt as a result of her putting him in day care! Focus on the Family warned her!
Teen Geek goes into convulsions, vomits pea soup, spins his head 360 degrees, and mutters about "the dark," probably referring to his preferences in turkey.
Laurence sees a raging fire containing a burning man. Which, while unnerving, is at least is better than seeing that Nicolas Cage remake of The Wicker Man.
Skinhead shouts something in Australian about the ship being forked (well, that’s what I heard), then adds, "If you break all the laws of physics, what do you expect!" Hmm, a hefty fine? 100 hours of community service? No, I know: eternal damnation!
Laurence continues to hallucinate about the burning man, who turns out to be a former coworker, rather than an annual hippie festival of potlatch and arson; Laurence left him to rot in Bad Company and has been wracked with guilt ever since. "This ship knew about it! It knows my fears, it knows my secrets," exclaims Laurence. Well, he should have used that little heart-shaped lock on his diary if he wanted privacy.
But in only minutes the Lewis and Clarke will be fixed and they can all go home, except that Sam says they can’t go home because the ship won’t let them. Sam also says he is home, which explains why his dirty socks are scattered all over the bridge.
Sam hallucinates about his wife again, this time reliving how she slit her wrists because he made her watch The Piano. He unwinds by blowing up the Lewis & Clarke. The explosion kills Skinhead (who was only 3 seconds from retirement), and propels Funny Black Guy into space. But he manages to make his way back to the Event Horizon by using his air tank as a propulsion device, and by being funny and black.
Single Mother gets killed by her son (in retrospect, the dead, eyeless dude she found earlier should have warned her that things were going to get Oedipal), while Smart Guy gets killed by Sam, whom physics has turned Evil. Sam next pops up on the bridge, bloody and eyeless. He says cheerily, "Where we’re going, we won’t need eyes to see." Hopefully, it’s the movie’s premiere.
Sam, who finally has read the whole script, informs Laurence that when the Event Horizon activated the black hole warp-drive, it opened a gateway into a dimension of pure chaos, a dimension of pure evil: the Adam Sandler dimension. And when the ship came back it was ALIVE! And cranky! And it wants to take them all back to the dark, chaotic place where it has been for the past seven years. However, Macho Chick doesn’t want to go to Portland, and so she jumps Sam, who shoots a hole in the hull and gets sucked into space.
The three survivors could breathe a sigh of relief about the movie being over if only Sam hadn’t already powered up the black hole. Next stop, Hades and ladies apparel! Laurence recalls an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, and decides to blow the ship in two. They will stay on the good part, and only the bad part will go to EuroDisney. He heads off to plant the bomb, sadly missing a cameo appearance by the tide of blood from The Shining.
Laurence makes it to the core, only to encounter Sam, now made-up like that guy from Hellraiser. It seems the ship brought him back to life because there were still some horror clichés to exploit. He quips, "The gateway is open, and you’re all coming with me. Do you see? Do you see?" Ha ha, Sam — you really have a way with a Helen Keller joke.
Laurence doesn’t want to see any more (as do none of us), and pushes the "Explode" button. Laurence’s half of the ship get sucked into to hell, while the other half drifts into the rest of the movie, which while not hell, isn’t exactly paradise.
72 days later, a rescue ship finds the incompetent survivors of the first rescue ship. A paramedic pulls Macho Chick out of her grav couch . . .and he’s Sam! Funny Black Guy reassures her that it’s just a dream. He holds her while she screams, but nobody can hear her, because she’s in space, and because everybody walked out of the theater about forty minutes ago to see if they could sneak into Air Bud. The End.
Oh gawd, I sat through that crap fest when it was on the telebision, & it was a fest of crap. Sci-fi & horror is not a peanut butter/chocolate sort of combo.
On a lighter note, my friend & sexual associate is always catching a dose of the flaming mung from her little third grade charges, at which time she becomes merely a friend till things blow over. Fortunately (for both of us) we aren't roommates, so transmission is less likely. Sympathy to all. (You think the principal would take it the wrong way if Mary wore a virus-filtering mask to school?)
I saw that movie! the only interesting thing I remember about it was the flag on Sam Neill's uniform.
They dock with the Event Horizon and everything is "five by five,"
Oh, Lord, that goofy space-speak, a hangover from the 1960s, even into the advanced era of Event Horizon. Chuck Jones, God Bless 'im, couldn't resist a little fun with it in 1963's "Mad as a Mars Hare:"
Radio Voice: Calling Astro Rabbit Bugs Bunny. Come in, Astro Rabbit Bugs Bunny. Are you reading me? Is everything go?
Bugs Bunny: Well no, actually, everything is not go. Everything is kinda stop.
I feel far less than five by five after reading that. Much closer to a four by three dir-tee.
When even Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne can't save a movie, you know it's bad.
This actually made Supernova look watchable by comparison. Not good, just watchable.
Of course you realize, Scott, that if I ever find myself watching this movie I'll be in the same fix I was in back in 19-ought-60-something when I went to see "Guns of Navarone" shortly after having read the Mad Magazine take, called, inevitably, "The Guns of Provolone".
I laughed quite a lot, alienating my date, who thought it was quite exciting and sad and kept looking at me funny, and probably therefore missing my one good chance to avoid a life of bachelorettitude.
Huh, didn't mean to put that about the Guns of Navarone through as Anonymous. I stand by my comments, however inane.
Li'l: While I enjoyed The Guns of Navarone, I'd have to say that any man or boy who didn't prefer the MAD magazine version of pretty much any movie released in the 1960s was not worthy to receive the perfect gift of thy tender bacherlorettitude.
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