An important part of every story is to some extent an element of mystery, something that is unknown to the viewer or reader. This part of a story, lore, or character’s back-story that is left to your imagination. Saying: “I know everything” is in my opinion a failure of writing, something must be left to your imagination. But what if this unknown actually was explained at some point in the past and maybe still exists today. Zack Snyder’s Justice League shows that there is a demand for director’s cuts of certain movies because it fills us with the desire to know: What was the original idea? What was the director’s vision? Long before Zack Snyder’s Justice League or David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, we should go back and take a look upon Paul W. S. Anderson’s Event Horizon (1997).
Story behind Horizon
Event Horizon is a sci-fi horror movie from 1997, influenced by movies like Alien, The Shining, Hellraiser, and also by the work of H. P. Lovecraft. The movie itself is pretty decent, the characters are well-defined, the design of the Event Horizon (the ship after that the movie is named) is fascinating and the movie leaves a lot to your imagination. If you have seen the movie, you might notice that the movie is very short (96 minutes) and seems rushed (not everything is explained or just very briefly, some scenes needed more context). That is because the time that was given to Paul W. S. Anderson to finish the edit of the movie was only four weeks. The original cut was 130 minutes long, test screenings to this cut were poorly received. What was on the original cut? Well, there were scenes of character development and interaction, explanations behind some occurrences and then there is the “blood orgy”.
One thing that I didn’t describe yet is the synopsis of Event Horizon, so this is the official IMDb synopsis: “In the year 2047 a group of astronauts are sent to investigate and salvage the long lost starship “Event Horizon”. The ship disappeared mysteriously 7 years before on its maiden voyage and with its return comes even more mystery as the crew of the “Lewis and Clark” discover the real truth behind its disappearance and something even more terrifying.”
It is revealed what happened to the original crew of Event Horizon, the ship went into another dimension described only as “Hell” and under its influence the crew murdered each other in an orgy of torture, rape, cannibalism, and self-mutilation. This scene is shown very briefly in the theatrical cut for just a few seconds. However, in the 130 minutes cut this “blood orgy” was much longer (there is no indication of how long it was, so let’s say minutes). Effect artist Dave Bonneywell (Game of Thrones) was recently asked about this “blood orgy” and he declared it “unwatchable”. I am going to link an article with his detailed descriptions (warning: it’s extremely disturbing).
As this wasn’t enough, there were also extended scenes of “Vision from Hell” in the movie finale, where the surviving crew of “Lewis and Clark” are also brutally tortured and murdered.
Paramount did not like this at all and requested to cut half an hour of this movie. First scenes that had to go were “Blood Orgy” and “Vision from Hell”. The current and available version of this movie is rated R, but the original cut would have easily been classified as NC-17. Event Horizon was a financial disappointment, but it became a cult classic and a hit on DVD and VHS. In 2006 Paramount and Paul W. S. Anderson started to look for the original version, but this version was stored in a Transylvanian salt mine (WTF?), where it deteriorated. This was supposedly the only cut that existed and with that, the story of Event Horizon ends – well maybe not. In 2011 film producer Lloyd Levin announced that he found a VHS with the original 130 minutes cut. Later in 2017 Anderson was asked about this tape and said that neither he nor Levin have seen it yet.
With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League the demand for director’s cuts is more prevalent than ever before, so maybe (if Lloyd Levin truly has this version or if some other VHS exists), we might get this version of Event Horizon and honestly I would be excited to see it. Event Horizon is still a very influential movie, beloved by its fans and heavily referenced by other movies (Pandorum, Sunshine, Interstellar and more), TV shows (South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, Rick and Morty) and video games (Dead Space, F.E.A.R.). Now, there is even a TV show supposedly in development, with Adam Wingard as executive producer with the involvement of Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin. Maybe we’ll never see this long version of Event Horizon, but maybe there are other options like an animated movie with the original cast and Scream Factory is preparing a Special Blu ray edition of this movie, so let’s just wait what they have prepared.
The story of Event Horizon is extremely interesting and intriguing because it forces you to ask the question of “what could have been”. I like this movie, even more, I love this story of the mysterious director’s cut, and what’s on it, makes it a perfect mystery. One thing I would recommend to Amazon and Paramount (studios that are developing the new Event Horizon TV show), if you have this version, then please release it prior to your TV show, you won’t get a better advertisement.
Picture: Copyright Paramount