Event Horizon (1997) Poster



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.
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Paul W.S. Anderson's initial cut of the film ran 130 minutes and was quite graphically violent, so much so that both test audiences and the studio balked 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. Although it was announced in 2012 that a full version of the film had been found, Anderson revealed in 2017 that due to bad archiving, a longer version no longer exist.
The rotational shot of the space station over earth took nearly a third of the film's budget.
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 (of course, the design team could not have predicted that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union in 2017). 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 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.
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.
Paul W.S. Anderson's initial rough cut submitted to the MPAA received the kiss-of-death NC-17 rating.
Having just done a PG-13 movie, Mortal Kombat (1995), Paul W.S. Anderson was very keen to do something more mature and gruesome. This was why he turned down the chance to direct X-Men (2000).
The scene in which Weir explains how to bend space and time in order to travel huge interstellar distances is paraphrased in Interstellar (2014). Romily uses the exact same demonstration to illustrate the theory - folding a piece of paper and pushing a pen through it while explaining it to Cooper.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson mentioned in a 2017 interview that one year after the film's release, John Goldwyn, head of production at Paramount, admitted to him that he felt the film had not been properly released, and that the studio wanted him to make the longer version he always intended. So for some time, Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt worked on a director's cut. They traveled the world to locate the original footage, some of which was found in the strangest places (for example, in an abandoned Transsylvanian salt mine). However, they quickly realized that since the movie was made before the DVD era (when alternate versions became much more commonplace), much of the original footage had been destroyed, or its storage place had not been documented; what was retrieved had often been badly archived or was otherwise degraded. 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 Anderson. A VHS copy of a rough edit did at one point resurface, but Anderson revealed that this version was too heavily damaged, and had to be thrown away. Although he stated not to be optimistic about the prospects of a director's cut, he did not rule out the slim possibility that missing footage of sufficient quality turns up one day.
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 "douse her with gallons of blood".
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).
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 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.
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.
From greenlight to completion, the film took 10 months, an unusually short amount of time for such a complex, special effects driven film.
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 working on his second movie, 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.
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!".
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.
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.
This movie was produced entirely within the UK, even the special effects.
The watch in the spinning tunnel at the start of the film is an Omega Speedmaster, the same watch worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their moon mission.
Clive Barker, whose movie Hellraiser (1987) was a huge influence on the film, consulted on the project during pre-production.
Paramount had originally planned to release Titanic (1997) in July 1997, but when that film was plagued by delays, it had to be re-scheduled to December 1997. This left Paramount with a gap in its summer movie schedule, so they offered Event Horizon to Paul W.S. Anderson on the condition that the film be ready for an August 1997 release. This meant that the movie was officially greenlit a mere 10 weeks before production was due to begin. This had the unfortunate consequence that the production design was unnecessarily rushed, and it was the reason why many leading production designers turned the film down.
The working title was "The Stars My Destination".
Filming occupied seven soundstages at Pinewood Studios outside London. Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was being filmed on adjacent soundstages.
In keeping with the naturalistic science fiction tone of the film, the costumes were based on present day flight suits.
Paul W.S. Anderson chose not to direct Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) to work on this film.
The air lock the ship docks at is unlucky number 13 in Roman numerals.
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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.
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.
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, as Paramount had no other blockbuster movie scheduled for that period. Anderson was working 7 days a week overseeing the hectic editing process while still shooting the final scenes for the movie. After the initial test screenings (which he described as "disastrous"), the film had to be hastily re-cut within one week to meet the deadline.
Production designer Joseph Bennett had to find a crew in Britain that could build and finish the sets in 4 weeks, before shooting began.
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.
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.
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.
In the startup of the film there is a black hole in the starry space while important cast is being presented, after focusing the black hole, in a few seconds you got a feeling that a single blue eye is looking at you.
The tool that Miller uses to keep the door seal open when he rescues Starck is a Halligan tool, a tool used by rescue crews. It is an unusual tool to be found in space vessels.
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Philip Eisner's first draft of the script involved an alien infestation on the ship. When director Paul W.S. Anderson was approached, he liked the 'Haunted House in space' concept of the movie, but he had the source of evil changed from aliens to something more supernatural and diabolical.
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Although the film met with mostly negative reviews and a disappointing box office result at the time of its release, it amassed a considerable cult following over the years. Director Paul W.S. Anderson said that the movie's cult status was predicted to him years before by Kurt Russell. Anderson screened Event Horizon before they started work on Soldier (1998), and Russell said "Forget about what this movie's doing now. In fifteen years time, this is going to be the movie you're glad you made".
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The first person signed to the film was director of photography Adrian Biddle.
Kathleen Quinlan (Peters) and Jack Noseworthy (Justin) have previously appeared in Breakdown (1997), which premiered three months prior to this film. Breakdown had a starring role for Kurt Russell, who would be in director Paul W.S. Anderson's next movie, Soldier (1998).
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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.
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Some actors of the cast are linked to Sci-Fi and fantasy franchises:

-Sam Neill played Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993) and Jurassic Park III (2001).

-Laurence Fishburne played Morpheus in The Matrix (1999) and sequels.

-Jason Isaacs played Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and sequels.
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Laurence Fishburne (Miller) and Richard T. Jones (Cooper) have previously appeared in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), respectively, as Ike Turner and Ike Turner, Jr.
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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 director himself jokes about this detail in the DVD commentary saying it's his autobiography, title "Paul Anderson: A Life".


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 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.
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 undergone extensive surgery as a child, explaining the large scar on his chest 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).
Some of the deleted scenes from the original 130 minutes long rough cut are:
  • The meeting scene between Weir and some people in charge of the mission where they talk about Event Horizon (dialogue from this deleted scene was included in theatrical trailer).
  • More back story for Cooper and Justin (including much stronger explanation for why Justin enters the black hole). It was explained that greatest fear of Cooper was loosing someone close to him which is represented in the film by the unfortunate accident that claims Justin.
  • Deleted love back story between Starck and Miller.
  • Miller finds a ripped out tooth floating around in Event Horizon.
  • More scenes explaining what exactly gateway to hell/black hole is.
  • Longer version of the scene where Peters hallucinates her son with his legs all mangled with maggots all over them.
  • After Justin almost died and is inside the water tank, Weir has hallucination where Justin turns into his wife Claire who comes out and looks at him; this scene was included in first two test screening versions of the movie but it didn't made it into the final cut.
  • Scene where Weir remembers his wife Claire committing suicide was also longer and bloodier.
  • The infamous "bloody orgy" video was also longer. Parts which are still in the scene, like one of the crew members sticking his fingers deep into other one's eyes, and a female crew member sodomizing male crew member with iron pipe, were even more violent in original version of the scene. There were also lot more shots of Event Horizon crew naked and covered in blood having violent sex and raping and eating each other, more graphic version of the scene where man pulls his intestines out of his mouth, one crew member is held and stabbed in back of the 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 as he screams and is crawling away leaving pieces of his legs behind, 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 mauled and then ripped off by another crew member, some other parts of the scene were also cut. The reason why this scene disturbed the test audience was because the filmmakers, in order to make the scene look more realistic and therefore a lot more violent, hired real-life amputees for special effects scenes where Event Horizon crew members had their body parts damaged in many ways, and porn actors were hired to make the sex and rape scenes more graphic. According to producer Jeremy Bolt and director Paul W.S. Anderson, during the screening of a rough cut of the movie, some audience members started fainting while watching this scene.
  • The scene where Miller finds D.J cut open and hanging was longer and it had more shots of his guts on the table.
  • The scene where the cryo-chamber is filling with blood originally had a part where Weir's hand pounds against the glass from inside and smashes the chamber letting the blood out; then as Cooper is helping Starck to escape, a mutilated and naked Weir is climbing from a ladder upside-down behind them.
  • Originally in the scene where Miller fights with possessed Weir there was a part where Weir gives, what director Paul Anderson referred to as "The Old Testament Speech" to Miller and tells him that "dimension of pure chaos" is actually hell.
  • The "Visions of Hell" sequence during the final fight between Miller and Weir was also longer and it had more shots of Event Horizon crew members being tortured.
Three different alternate endings were also filmed. The first had Miller fight with Weir in the core; this version didn't have the jump scare at the end when the last three survivors are found by another rescue crew, and Starck hallucinates that she sees Weir: instead, Starck hears screams of the Event Horizon crew and screams in fear before Cooper wakes her up. This was the original ending of the movie and it was included in the shooting script. The second ending (original ending) had Miller fighting with the Burning Man from his visions at the core instead of with Weir, but it was changed because the audience of the second test screening didn't like it. The third ending that was used in the final cut is a combination of the first two endings: instead of fighting the Burning Man, Miller fights with Weir, and the jump scare was included at the very end of the movie.
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).
For his final scenes, Sam Neill would come to the studio at 3am so that he could spend 7-8 hours in make-up.
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 filming of the gravity drive on fire caused a real fire that partially destroyed the set. A different set had to be built quickly while the old one was being repaired. In the end, the repaired set was only used for an additional day of filming.
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.
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 and studio executives 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 superimposed onto 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 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.
Event Horizon's motor uses a three-ringed system to create a black hole and travel to another place. The same concept was used in Contact (1997), released 35 days before.
The ship's central corridor has the shape of an eye, to symbolize that the ship is always keeping watch of its victims.
When Peters is following her imaginary son in the core of the ship, the gates she passes are shaped like coffins, foretelling what is about to occur.
Visual body count: 3 (D.J., Smith and Peters). Miller and Weir disappear into a black hole and Cooper, Justin and Starck survive to be rescued. Body parts of the original crew (who consisted of 18 members) are seen throughout the film, but since their deaths occur off-screen, they are not included. If it is assumed that all original crew members have died, the full body count would be 21.
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When Cooper activates his jet pack to fly come back the Event Horizon, in the control appears "Purge". It's a nod for Blade Runner (1982), since then in the Spinner's screen used by Deckard and Guff appears "Purge" when it going to fly.
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In the Event Horizon's logbook seen by Miller, Weir, Starck and Peters, captain John Kilpack (Peter Marinker) is seen presenting his section chiefs Chris Chambers, Janice Reuben, Ben Fender and Dick Smith. All actors who portray them are uncredited, due to the fact that they cannot be identified on screen.
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The man in flames who haunts Miller is revealed to be Edward Corrick, a young crew member who died after an accident in the starship Goliath, commanded by Miller.
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See also

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

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