Being only three days out from Halloween leaves me thinking of scary movies. Being a sci-fi nut, I love those films that freely mix the horror and science fiction genres. Two dynamite films come to mind: one well-known, the other mildly underrated.
Alien. Repeat after me. “Alien is not a sci-fi movie; it’s a horror movie.” Ridley Scott’s brilliantly gritty space thriller dresses in plenty of sci-fi trappings, but delivers all the chills of a first-rate horror flick. The spacers terrorized by H. R. Giger’s hideous creature are simple corporate workers trapped in a terrible situation and knocked off one by one in gruesome fashion. Mr. Scott uses cunning visual techniques and camera angles, and just enough creature effects, to perfectly capture the frenetic action of the crew’s hopeless struggles against a power beyond their capabilities. The best way I can demonstrate this is by linking to a clip of Brett’s (Harry Dean Stanton) death. It is not for the faint of heart, so don’t click unless you can handle it. Here it is. Brett stands powerless in the face of the inhuman Alien. The horror he endures in those last few seconds of his life freezes the viewer’s blood. It did mine. That’s why Alien succeeds as a horror film.
Event Horizon. If I ever make a list of the most underrated films of all time, this one will rank very highly on it. This also happens to be another horror movie masquerading as a sci-fi flick! The sci-fi equivalent of a haunted house is a haunted starship, and oh boy, does Event Horizon deliver the goods on that account! The eponymous ship, the Event Horizon, mysteriously reappears after seven years of being lost in space. Lead by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), the crew of the Lewis and Clark answer the lost ship’s distress call. They find the Event Horizon deserted. A ghost ship. Horror ensues. Director Paul W. S. Anderson sets a dark tone with plenty of darkly shot corridors, strange sounds, and haunting visions. Things really start to go pear-shaped when the crew of the Lewis and Clark find a hidden video recording of the last horrific moments on the Event Horizon’s bridge before it disappeared. I am going to link to this, but it is incredibly disturbing and horrific. You have been warned. Here is the link.
These two films represent the pinnacle of what creative folks can do when they skillfully combine two genres. As Halloween approaches, think about tracking down one or both of these titles. If you’ve seen them already, watch them again. If you’ve never seen them before and watch them for the first time, I envy you.
— Scott P.