Event Horizon (1997) Poster



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The Event Horizon was named after the theoretical boundary surrounding a black hole, within which gravitational attraction is so great that nothing, not even radiation, can escape because the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light. Technically, it is where the physical universe ends and physical laws no longer apply. So the ship's name is symbolic for its journey beyond the borders of the known universe.
The rotational shot of the space station over earth took nearly a third of the film's budget.
Paul W.S. Anderson's initial cut of the film ran to 130 minutes and was quite graphically violent, so much so that both test audiences and the studio baulked at the finished product. Paramount ordered him to cut the film by 30 minutes and tone down some of the violence, a decision he now regrets.
Everyone's space suit has a flag showing future political changes on Earth. Characters portrayed by American actors wear a flag of the United States with 55 stars. Characters portrayed by British actors wear a European Union flag with 22 stars, replacing the former Union Jack. Sam Neill's character wears a modified Australian flag, with the Union Jack removed from the top left-hand corner, and the Aboriginal flag in place of the Union Jack.
The script originally described the Gateway machine as a smooth and featureless black orb suspended in midair between large, rotating mechanical arms. It also was said to contain a stable black hole within it at all times (which the ship used as a power source), as opposed to briefly creating a temporary one. Paul Anderson decided to redesign it to involve interlocking circles as a homage to the puzzle box in Hellraiser (1987), which served as an inspiration.
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.
For his final scenes, Sam Neill would come to the studio at 3am so that he could spend 7-8 hours in make-up.
The space suits worn by the actors weighed 65 pounds (30 kilograms) each. Laurence Fishburne nicknamed his "Doris." Due to the weight, standing upright in them for longer periods could lead to back injury, but sitting down was not possible either due to the backpack. Special "hanging poles" were constructed on the set, so the actors could rest on them between takes.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson was forced to cut over 20 minutes of violent scenes so the film could reach the R-rating.
Philip Eisner wrote the movie after a family tragedy. He had recently entered a multi-picture writing agreement, and in an effort to force himself to get back to work he pitched the idea of "The Shining in space" to the studio, who were very receptive. Unfortunately he had no detailed treatment yet, and the subject matter blended with his emotional state to inspire a prolonged bout of writer's block. The studio executive who had originally brought him on board, now a personal friend, helped keep Eisner on track, and the eventual first draft which was enthusiastically received.
Some of the lost footage includes a great deal more of the Bosch-influenced Hell sequences and of the orgiastic video log that was found in the Event Horizon. This was shot by both director Paul W.S. Anderson and Vadim Jean, mainly on weekends.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt planned to put together a director's cut for some time, but most of the footage was lost or destroyed after post-production. A few of the surviving scenes, including a scene where Dr. Weir is informed of the re-appearance of the Event Horizon, appear on the Special Collector's Edition DVD, and survived only in videotape form, sometimes without dialog or sound effects. The DVD also includes storyboards of a space walk sequence that was abandoned for budget reasons, and the alternate ending, with commentary by Paul W.S. Anderson. A full VHS copy of the first edit has since resurfaced.
According to the DVD commentary, sequences deleted from the "Visions of Hell" include orgies and sadomasochism killing the Event Horizon's original crew.
This movie was produced entirely within the UK, even the special effects.
The shot where Sam Neill stares out of a window which then pulls back to reveal he's on the deck of a spaceship orbiting Earth took the digital special effects house Cinesite 10 weeks to achieve. The shot lasts for 45 seconds.
The Event Horizon was modeled on Notre Dame cathedral. Its long corridor resembles a church nave, and its interior is filled with cruciform shapes, columns and vaults. Also, its engines resemble rotated church towers.
Paul W.S. Anderson had originally hired British band Orbital to compose the music for the film because he had wanted to work with them since his directorial debut Mortal Kombat (1995) which had featured their music. Paramount executives balked at the idea of hiring unknowns to write music for a big budget film, Anderson then thought of Michael Kamen and the idea of "marrying" their sounds (orchestral and techno) together resulted in the film's final soundtrack.
When Doctor Weir opens the blinds in his room during the opening sequence of the film, a whooshing sound effect can be heard. This sound effect is taken from the video game Doom, heard when the player opens a door.
Having just done a PG-13 movie, Mortal Kombat (1995), Paul W.S. Anderson was very keen to do something more adult and gruesome. This was why he turned down the chance to direct X-Men (2000).
Dr. Weir shares his name with a historical figure, Johann Weyer, also known as Wier or Wierus. He was a Dutch physician, occultist, and demonologist.
Andrew Kevin Walker wrote an uncredited draft of the script. Some of it ended up on screen, and one sequence was cut from the theatrical cut, where captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), upon entering the Event Horizon, finds a ripped-out tooth floating around. Other scenes appear as storyboards on the Special Collector's Edition, when Miller's crew is introduced for the first time on another rescue mission. On the DVD documentaries and commentaries, director Paul W.S. Anderson said he regretted having to delete these scenes, but they didn't help the film's pacing.
When the Lewis and Clark first docks with the Event Horizon, the number of the main airlock is briefly visible: 13.
In keeping with the naturalistic science fiction tone of the film, the costumes were based on present day flight suits.
Joely Richardson's character was originally written for a man. However, during auditions, director Paul W.S. Anderson had the part read by both men and women. He chose Richardson because of the 'British stage class' that she would bring to the movie, and thought it would be fun to then "douche her with gallons of blood".
Writer Philip Eisner visited the set while the space suit sequences were being filmed. The suits were so heavy that the actors risked back injuries, prompting Laurence Fishburne to stop between takes, point at Eisner, and shout mock-angrily: "You! You Eisner! You did this to me!".
Paul W.S. Anderson's initial rough cut submitted to the MPAA received the kiss-of-death NC-17 rating.
Clive Barker consulted on the project during pre-production.
The working title was "The Stars My Destination".
Production designer Joseph Bennett had to find a crew in Britain that could build and finish the sets in 4 weeks, before shooting began.
Paul W.S. Anderson was offered the movie on the strength of the box office success of his previous film, Mortal Kombat (1995). It meant he had to turn down the opportunity to direct X-Men (2000), The X Files (1998) and Alien: Resurrection (1997).
Paramount eschewed the overused special effects houses ILM and DreamWorks in favor of smaller studios to keep costs down. Instead they opted for Mass Illusion Cinesite (Europe) and the Computer Film Company in London.
Paramount didn't officially greenlight the film until 10 weeks before production was due to begin. This meant that the production design was unnecessarily rushed and was the reason why many leading production designers turned the film down.
From greenlight to completion, the film took 10 months, an unusually short amount of time for such a complex, special effects driven film.
Jeremy Irons and Amy Brenneman were originally set to star in the film.
The hundreds of apparent metal bolts that line the corridors of the Event Horizon are actually power transistors in a TO-3 or similar package. This can be best seen when Miller rests his head against the wall when hearing Corrick's voice.
The FBFX created costumes of John Mollo's original space suit designs included many practical features such as an integrated filter blower system in the bottom of the portable life support system (backpack) into the helmet to keep the visor clear and the actor cool, thousands of LEDs that pulsated rhythmically to indicate life support functionality (with a secret 'panic mode' switch to quicken the pace when the plot required it!) and industrial magnets embedded in the soles of the boots to add to the realism of scenes featuring active magnetic boots.
Filming occupied seven soundstages at Pinewood Studios outside London. Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was being filmed on adjacent soundstages.
Paul W.S. Anderson chose not to direct Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) to work on this film.
Post-production was cut from 6 weeks to 4 weeks after Paul W.S. Anderson promised to deliver the film in time for release in August 1997.
One of the members of the original Event Horizon crew was British director Gary Sinyor, who directed The Bachelor (1999) starring Chris O'Donnell and Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger.
Some of the scenes deleted from the original 130 minutes long rough cut are;
  • meeting scene between Weir and some other people where they talk about Event Horizon (dialogue from this deleted scene was included in theatrical trailer)

  • more backstory for Cooper and Justin

  • deleted love backstory between Starck and Miller

  • Miller finds ripped out tooth floating around in Event Horizon

  • more scenes explaining what exactly gateway to hell/black hole is

  • longer scene of Peter's son legs being all mangled with maggots all over them

  • longer "bloody orgy" video containing shots of Event Horizon crew naked and covered in blood raping and eating each other, more graphic shot of man pulling his intestines out of his mouth, one crew member is held and stabbed in back head with spike and part of his mouth and teeth drops out, other crew member is crawling on floor while others are hitting his legs with steel bars smashing them to pieces, one girl has screws drilled into her teeth, other girl is held while her arm is broken with hunk of metal, one more girl has her breasts ripped off.

There were also three different alternate endings filmed;
  • one doesn't have cheap scare when last two survivors are found by another rescue crew

  • second one has Miller fighting with burned man from his visions at the core instead of with Weir

  • third one that was used in final cut is combined of first two endings but instead with burning man Miller fights with Weir. Plus final scare is included.

The first person signed to the film was director of photography Adrian Biddle.
The watch in the spinning tunnel at the start of the film is an Omega Speedmaster. The watch worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their moon mission.

Director Cameo 

Paul W.S. Anderson:  During the opening dream sequence, a book floats past the camera, featuring a picture of the director and his name.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

For Jason Isaacs' death scene, the plan was originally for his entrails to be still attached to him as he hung over them. Isaacs was then supposed to raise his head, showing that he was still alive, prompting Laurence Fishburne's character to shoot him in the head, to put him out of his misery.
The actors were stimulated to invent a back story for their characters. Jason Isaacs based his character on his own brother, who is a doctor. In his back story, his character had underwent extensive surgery as a child, explaining the large scar over his trunk, and the visions he received from the ship were of him completely cut open. Isaacs asked if he could take home the dummy in his likeness with the chest sliced open. The special effects department was quite shocked with this request, so they told him they still needed it (even though they didn't).
All of the characters who die are the ones who are immediately present in the scene where the crew starts to talk about the hallucinations.
The rotating corridor (nicknamed 'meatgrinder') that separates the gravity drive from the rest of the ship is supposed to represent the nine circles of Hell from Dante Alighieri's poem Inferno: it leads into the very center of Hell, represented by the gravity drive itself. It turned out to be the most problematic set piece to film. Only shots with a fixed camera could be done, since camera operators became disoriented and unable to keep the camera steady. Laurence Fishburne could not perform his run through the tunnel in one take due to the same problem; the final scene was comprised of several shorter takes. And when the fireball effect was filmed, a piece of cloth started to burn and caused a small fire.
According to the DVD documentaries, the first cut of the film had a longer "Visions from Hell" sequence, more blood, and a different, though similar, ending with Weir returning to the ship. The test audience didn't like it, so it was re-cut with less gore and an alternate ending, involving what director Paul W.S. Anderson called "The Burning Man Sequence"; essentially, flames were supposed to be added to the existing footage of Weir, so that Miller would be fighting the manifestation of the burning crewman he once had to abandon; Weir himself would not return. The second test audience liked this version better, but preferred the confrontation with Weir of the first, so the film was edited again. The final cut is a less-intense hybrid of both test screenings, with significantly less gore.
The scene where Laurence Fishburne finds Jason Isaacs hanging in the air with his chest cut open originally ran much longer, with Isaacs' guts hanging out of him, and some of them laying on the table. Paul W.S. Anderson used a mylar mirror on an operating table to simulate the effect, with Issacs actually hanging on wires. This can be seen in the DVD's Making of Event Horizon documentary.
The filming of the gravity drive on fire caused a real fire that partially destroyed the set. A different set had to be build quickly while the old one was being repaired. In the end, the repaired set was only used for an additional day of filming.
The alternate opening, dubbed the 'Lucky Strike' scene, was storyboarded but not filmed. It would have introduced the crew of the Lewis and Clarke while they were salvaging a ship called the Lucky Strike, with one of its crew members ejected from an airlock and subsequently rescued. The scene was not filmed for budgeting and pacing reasons, but director Paul W.S. Anderson liked the idea of the airlock scene so much, that he reused it later in the movie for the character of Jack Noseworthy.
The ship's central corridor has the shape of an eye, to symbolize that the ship is always keeping watch of its victims.
An additional scene filmed but omitted from the movie showed a mutilated and naked Dr. Weir climbing from a ladder upside-down. This scene was inspired by the infamous 'Spiderwalk' sequence from the extended version of The Exorcist (1973).

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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