Sam Neill’s been thinking a lot about the movies of the 90s. The occasion, of course, is his return to the world of thunder lizards for Jurassic World: Dominion, in which he reprises his role as Dr. Alan Grant, the palaeontologist he first played in 1993’s Jurassic Park. Acknowledged by all as a classic, Jurassic Park has spawned five sequels, two of which feature Neill’s Grant. But there’s another classic from the 90s, one that has much more of a cult status, that deserves more. Not just more love, but more running time, apparently.
While talking about his many genre roles with Syfy Wire, Neill complained that the 1997 sci-fi horror movie Event Horizon is “half an hour too short.” Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who would go on to helm the Resident Evil film series, Event Horizon stars not only Neill, but also Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan, Jason Isaacs, and Sean Pertwee. Neill plays Dr. William Weir, designer of the titular ship/gateway to Hell, who accompanies Fishburne’s Captain S.J. Miller on a doomed rescue mission.
Although the movie failed to make back its budget back in 1997, it has since become a favorite among genre fans, a fact that still surprises Neill. “It’s funny how often that film comes up of all the films I’ve made. And it’s not that it did particularly well,” he admitted. “But people seem to have seen it and it just sort of sears itself into their imagination or something.”
Pleasing as that attention might be, Neill confessed to a bit of dissatisfaction with the movie. “It’s a matter of grit to me that it’s not longer,” he confessed. Where most movies are too short, he described Event Horizon as a movie that was too short, one that “was cut like it was on speed, or fast forward.”
Neill’s hardly the only person to make this observation. The movie had a famously troubled production, in which studio Paramount demanded that the movie be cut down to 90 minutes, leaving behind quite a bit of deleted footage. While the fan demand would certainly be enough to necessitate special features on an updated edition, if not a proper director’s cut, the completed movie will likely never be seen. The film stock with edited scenes had been stored in a Transylvanian salt mine, a suitably damned place for a horror movie to meet its end. In the mine, the footage became so badly damaged that it cannot be used or restored.
For Neill, the loss only intensifies his disappointment with the finished film. Instead of its fast-paced plot and frantic cutting, Neill believes that Event Horizon “should have been much more leisurely with more dark pauses where you just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
While many love Event Horizon as it is, no one can fault Neill for wishing that his character’s story was properly told. Is the same true for his other 90s genre breakout, Alan Grant? If the reaction to Jurassic World: Dominion is any indication, we may have had too much of that character.