It’s Halloween! John reveals what scared Paramount in order to request 30 minutes of cuts from Event Horizon!
As a fan of film, I love exploring behind the scenes. Reading about the production process, the special effects and the stories of what could have been.
Event Horizon, released in 1997, wasn’t the hit film Paramount Pictures were hoping for. But let us turn back the clock a little further.
Many unhappy rumours were spreading about the production of James Cameron’s Titanic and it looked as if Paramount were going to have a huge disaster on their hands. Paramount were worried enough to ask 20th Century Fox to partner with them to help out.
Titanic hit delays and Paramount needed something to fill the space now left behind in the film release schedule.
Hot from his success with the video game adaptation of Mortal Kombat,British director Paul Anderson was given almost carte blanche to film the script Event Horizon with a generous budget of approximately $60 million.
Unfortunately, this deal came with a catch. Due to the time constraints, he would only get around six weeks to edit the picture. Normally the Directors Guild of America ensures a director will get a minimum of ten weeks to produce his final cut on a picture. With a locked release date, this wouldn’t be possible.
Anderson had to work seven days a week to film Event Horizon. He was so pushed for time that he was still trying to finish filming during the first couple of weeks of his six week editing period.
The first rough cut came in at just over two hours at 130 minutes. The first test screening was pratically a disaster with the studio and the audience shocked at the amount of gore including cannibalism, evisceration and dismemberment.
Paramount now worried about this film as well, asked Anderson to remove approximately half an hour from his cut. Exhausted by the strenuous production schedule and too weak to argue what he thought should stay in the film (a point he now regrets in hindsight), Anderson and his editor managed to cut the film down to a slim 95 minutes.
The R-rated horror didn’t perform well at the box office and as we all know, Titanic went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. Event Horizon came and went without much notice but has since become a cult classic.
So what was included in those excised thirty minutes of footage? Apparently more scenes of violence and gore including a much longer version of the final video log from the Event Horizon’s crew, destroying themselves in an orgy of simultaneous sex and murder.
In 2006, a two-disc special edition DVD was released that featured a few scant minutes of deleted footage. These were discovered in storage at a Transylvanian salt mine. Apparently, most of the footage was damaged beyond repair and unusable.
Paramount obviously had little love for the film, so why bother to pay for the proper storage of extra material such as deleted scenes? The feature-length “making of” documentary from the DVD does feature some behind the scenes footage of filming more scenes that didn’t make the final cut.
In an email to a fan, Event Horizon special effects artist Dave Bonneywell, described what was in that crew video log and how it was created.
I still have a little (bitter) laugh about the infamous ‘Orgy of destruction’ scene. In the script it was very briefly described, with only two specific acts; a woman eating her own baby and a guy pulling his intestines through his own mouth! The woman was cut out before we even started on it, being deemed too nasty! but the guy we did do. To flesh out the scene Paul Anderson (as he was then known) came to us and asked us to come up with a whole bunch of gags…anything we wanted! We came up with a list of about 20 and he chose the ones he wanted. As best I can remember this is what we did and how we did it:
1: A man pulls his intestines through his mouth.
The actor playing this was an amputee, having no right arm from the elbow down. At the start of the gag we are close on his face and a performer behind him and out of frame starts to force his hand into the guys mouth. We then cut to another angle and now the amputee has his own stump in his mouth…looking like his arm is now in up to elbow. We cut again, but this time to a silicone puppet of the actor with a jaw that can stretch wide open. A performer with his arm up to the elbow in this, forces his arm all the way in,grabs the fake intestines concealed out of frame and simply pulls them all the way out. Spluuuurk!!!
2: An old man kneels on the floor, a girl comes up behind him and rams a steel spike through the back of his head. the spike exits through his mouth knocking out his teeth. The old guy in question had a unique dental plate. Due to a motorcycle accident many years before he had lost his front teeth and a sizable chunk of his upper palette and jaw. He normally wore a dental plate that replaced both jaw and teeth. We simply built another plate with a spring loaded spike on.
Framed with the guy in front, the girl comes up behind him and mimes ramming the spike into his head, at the same time he activates the sprung spike in his mouth with his tongue, which shoots forward, knocking out the two fake front teeth and exiting just below his nose. It was a truly spectacular effect, unique because it was so obviousely a real, living person but impossible to do without the guy and his weird mouth!
3: A girl, her mouth spread wide with clamps, has screws drilled into her teeth and gums. Actually this was the same girl as above (Emilly Booth…who now works as a presenter on Sky TV). Again a dental plate…this time with fucked up teeth and screws in the gums. A blunted screw is already part way in and as the guy drills it in further it simply passes into her mouth, blood tubing and acting sells the gag!
4: A man crawls across the floor as two other guys smash his legs to pieces with steel bars, screaming the man continues crawling leaving the remains of his legs behind.
Darren Swift (Swifty) the guy on the floor was an ex soldier who had his legs blown off in Northern Ireland. Unperturbed by this he can run, jump, climb, dance…whatever…on his prosthetic legs (he is retired from films now as his free base parachuting, mountain climbing and pot holing take up to much of his time!!….I kid you not!).
He is so good on his legs that it is impossible to tell they are fake, so they used him in another deleted scene where he is featured as one of the original Event Horizon crew. Audiences now accept him as a ‘normal’ actor so when the two guys smash up the fake legs we built for him it looks totally amazing and the assumption was that some kind of computer effect had been used….it hadn’t!
5: A woman is slammed against a bulkhead, her arm is held by one guy whilst another breaks it with a hunk of metal. More amputee action. The woman had no arm so we made a fake one with a bone in it that could be broken. The fake limb was attatched to her shoulder and at the wrist to a performer who had his hand through the fake bulkhead. The fake arm is hit, the bone breaks horribly and the arm bends at an impossible angle but the hand still wriggles and squirms. Of course the actor pinning the woman kept his hand over the fake wrist, hiding the join from audiences.
6: A guy grabs a woman from behind and begins squeezing her breasts…it all starts looking sexual until the girl begins screaming as the guy squeezes harder and harder until the breasts split and rupture as he tears them off.
I had originally asked for a small breasted girl for this gag…but as usualcasting screwed up and we got one with…not exactly an ample bust…but lets just say a ‘normal’ one. That was ok for the begining of this scene as it was simply a guy squeezing her real breasts. But it did mean we had to strap her down quite tightly to flatten her real bust so we could fit her with her fake one. The prosthetic was a gelatine piece filled with softer gelatine coloured red. We pre-sliced the outer skin so as the guy squeezed the splits opened up and the inner red goo erupted out….very, very nasty!
On top of these we did the usual bite prosthetics (as in Savinis work on Romero’s ‘Dead’ movies), cuts, stabs, edible body parts, severed limbs etc.
Add to this the fact that the entire cast were totally naked and that some of the simulated rapes and sex scenes would have put a porno movie to shame and you can understand why it was all cut from a mainstream Hollywood film.
Even as we were making this stuff we kinda knew it wouldn’t get included…so why did they spent so much on it? (they even had a separate director for this) I have no idea. And where is it now?…again I have no idea…maybe Mr Anderson has it on some private tape somewhere!
But it’s wasn’t just thirty minutes of violence and gore that was trimmed, there was also more character information and plot as well including:
- More story for Cooper and Justin including a much stronger explanation for why Justin enters the black hole. It was explained that Cooper’s greatest fear was of losing someone close to him, which is represented in the film by the unfortunate accident that claims Justin.
- Scenes showing that Starck and Miller had previously had a relationship together.
- More scenes explaining what exactly the gateway to hell was. Apparently, Anderson removed this scenes as they gave away too much information to the audience.
- Miller finds a ripped out tooth floating around in Event Horizon. (Watch below)
- Longer version of the scene where Peters hallucinates her son with his injured legs covered with maggots.
- After Justin almost died and is inside the water tank, Weir has a hallucination where Justin turns into his wife Claire who comes out and looks at him.
- The scene where Miller finds D.J cut open and hanging was originally longer and contained more footage of his internal organs on the table. The plan was originally for his entrails to be still attached to him as he hung over them. D.J was then supposed to raise his head, showing that he was still alive, prompting Miller to shoot him in the head, to put him out of his misery.(Watch part of this scene below)
- In the scene where the cryo chamber fluid tank fills with blood, Weir’s hand pounds against the glass from inside and smashes the chamber letting the blood out. As Cooper is helping Starck to escape, a mutilated and naked Weir is climbing down a ladder upside-down behind them.(Watch below)
Some or part of this footage appeared on the special edition DVD and has subsequently made its way onto YouTube. Here’s a small selection:
Fans fearing that this footage had been lost forever were delighted to hear some positive news in 2012. In an interview at a comic con, Anderson mentioned that the Event Horizon’s producer, Lloyd Levin had found a VHS tape containing the original 130-minute workprint cut.
Unfortunately, this has never been mentioned again, nor has the workprint surfaced on any channels.