While I’ve never really sought out horror flicks, I’ve watched tons of them over my lifetime. As a kid who literally ran out of the room when Mad Marge’s eyes turned into cartoon eyes during Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, I never would have expected to be someone who would enjoy the scarier things in cinema, but I’ve grown to appreciate a good horror flick. From watching movies like Critters and Gremlins on tv when I was younger to my adult life of being in love with all of the zombies I could find, I’ve definitely grown into someone who can really get into a well-crafted piece of horror fiction.
Heck, while I’ve still never been able to get myself to watch (or read) It, I’ve found a severe love of Stephen King’s work. Playing the recently remade Resident Evil II was one of my favorite games of the past few years, even I absolutely dreaded those jump scares where the unkillable Mr. X would suddenly appear, meaning you had to quickly figure out how the heck to get away from him. When I found the Cube series, I became infatuated with this idea of mysterious torture thrown in with a little bit of the puzzling escape room trend.
Needless to say, although I don’t seek out horror flicks very often, I have enjoyed them countless times throughout my life and don’t really consider myself too incredibly squeamish about them, even if I really didn’t like walking through my dark house after late night rounds of Half Life 2.
But when talking with my kids the other day about horror films, I realized there’s one movie which has stuck with me as being the scariest flick I’ve ever watched, and one that I simply can’t watch again, much less want to think about too heavily. And that’s the late 90’s movie, Event Horizon.
Since this is a film that has gained quite a cult following, meaning that it is probably fresh in the minds of a few of my readers, I feel like I should set the stage a little bit, because although I still consider it the scariest movie I’ve ever watched, I also know that there were a lot of absolutely ridiculous campy things about this film that, if I were to watch it again, would probably mean I wouldn’t find it nearly as terrifying. Also, to be completely honest, I really don’t remember that much about this movie.
But, you see, I was in my first few years of high school, as a kid who had been brought up in an incredibly fundamental church, and so, as a kid who still hadn’t really gained any form of appreciation for horror movies, whose understanding of the occult hadn’t reached any form of understanding past “Devil=bad”, and whose only previous experience with a horror film on the big screen was Seven, which at least had a little bit of reasoning to its madness, I was being brought into this tale of terror which had no reasoning except Hell=Evil, and that alone was enough for me.
Now that we’ve set the stage for myself, I should probably explain the basic concept to those of you unfamiliar with this movie. It’s pretty simple, as least as far as I remember it. A spaceship using a special faster-than-light engine, ends up traveling through hell and comes back haunted. I don’t know if that’s the official explanation of what happens in that movie, but it’s what I understood from it back when I watched it in 1997.
What follows, then, is this trek into madness as the crew of this spaceship (who might have been a rescue crew from another spaceship…memory is hazy) is tortured by the hellish nightmare inside the spaceship.
There’s a lot of crazy, not a lot of explanation, and a helluva lot of absolutely torturous imagery. And me, being the young, naive little high schooler I was, knew I wasn’t ready for this movie when my friends suggested it, but really wanted to sit close to the girls who were had suggested it, hoping, you know, for some high school-appropriate hand holding or something when things got too scary.
I remember so little from that film today, having blocked out most of it, outside of Sam Neil stabbing out his own eyes as he laughs maniacally…or something.
But what I do remember is being absolutely terrified about this movie, and then having to walk back home in the dark because our ride forgot to pick us up.
This kid who had run out of a theater not long before this because of a Satanic-ritual involving the hanging of headless chickens around a yard in an opening sequence that led me to believe watching some children’s movie about pandas would be a better choice, had made it all the way through this terrifying flick, and then had to walk back in the dark through the forested streets of Eau Claire to get home…knowing we were already out past curfew, leading to the biggest jump scare when a car pulled up beside us to find it was the dorm supervisor who had caught us out late and now we were all in trouble.
So, yeah, that’s my memories of the movie: Hell, Sam Neil with bleeding eye sockets, not wanting to chicken out and watch a panda movie again, and walking home in the dark to be caught out after curfew.
And I really can’t bring myself to watch that movie again.