Saturday, August 20, 2022

40 Years Ago Today: The Class of 1984 (1982)

Some movies appeal to the intellect and others go for the heart.  

Or, in the case of Class of 1984, right for the jugular.  

This visceral 1982 exploitation film lives up to its sub-genre in spades. Mark Lester's Class of 1984 gamely exploits widely-held "generation gap"-styled fears, happily stokes extreme paranoia and anger towards failed American institutions (such as the police and public school systems) and finally descends into bloody violence the likes of which one usually expects to see only in a rape-and-revenge film

If dissected, coldly, rationally and intellectually in the cold light of day, Class of 1984 hardly holds together as a film at all.  It doesn't make sense even on a basic narrative level. But in the darkness of a movie auditorium -- or your living room -- the film veritably pulsates with wild, anarchic energy. It "feels" dangerous to watch, and puts you on edge from the very first frame.  Class of 1984 emerges from an era when exploitation films like this were made not merely with commendable gusto, but absolute fearlessness, plus a strong grounding in film style.

Given the film's emotional approach to its subject matter, it's an authentic surprise that Class of 1984's most valuable player is not a bomb thrower (like Van Patten's effectively dramatized gang leader, Stegman), but a perfect gentleman. The late Roddy McDowall here plays a put-upon biology teacher, Terry Corrigan, just about at the end of his rope. McDowall crafts his character with the sensitivity and intelligence one expects from this great actor. In fact, his performance grounds Class of 1984 in understandable, relatable humanity, when only blood and guts appeared to be on the syllabus.  

And yet even McDowall's appeal is an emotional, not intellectual one. We feel the guy's pain almost as our yet, yet still want to ask him logical questions like: how about looking for another job?  Or not attempting vehicular homicide...?

Breathing life into Class of 1984's rambunctious tale of students gone wild is an old, widespread, real-life fear, a generation gap if you will. Basically, the adult generation demonizes and "fears" the up-and-coming generation as a wild, apocalyptic, uncontrollable one. Since the 1950s, teenagers have been an easy scapegoat for society's problems in this regard. You can find generation gap films in the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties without conducting a wide or deep search.

But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it indeed looked like things were falling apart to some folk, and this element of American culture played into the fear about the future, and the future generation.  New York City became a hub for urban blight and ruin in efforts such as The Warriors (1979), Fort Apache: The Bronx (1981), Escape from New York (1981) and Wolfen (1981).  

In terms of teens, about a thousand murders a year were committed by them in 1982, and the trend grew worse until about 1994, when the trends sharply reversed. But the early 1980s remains the age of an irrational fear of teenagers, some of whom were even termed "super predators" in the mainstream press.  Similarly, the media often recounted horrific tales of skyrocketing  drug abuse and prostitution among teens.  This Zeitgeist is perfectly captured by student thug Stegman's immortal line (put to music by Alice Cooper in Class of 1984): 

"I am the future."

The narrative model for Class of 1984 appears to be director Richard Brooks' Blackboard Jungle (1955).  Often described as the very first "rock and roll" movie, Blackboard Jungle follows an English teacher, Rick Dadier (Glenn Ford) as he takes a new teaching job and runs afoul of violent juvenile delinquents including Miller (Sidney Poitier), Artie (Vic Morrow) and Stocker (Paul Mazursky).  

At home, Dadier's wife, Ann (Anne Francis) suffers from extreme anxiety over her husband's teaching assignment, and this anxiety could jeopardize her pregnancy.  During the course of the film, a gentle math teacher, played by Richard Kiley, sees his record album collection destroyed by the out-of-control students.  The film ends with Dadier earning the respect of his students after winning a knife-fight with Artie.

Blackboard Jungle opened with a passage that contextualized this strange tale of students gone crazy: "We in the United States are fortunate to have a school system that is a tribute to our communities and to our faith in American youth.  Today, we are concerned with juvenile delinquency -- its causes and its effects. We are especially concerned when the delinquency boils over into our schools.  The scenes and incidences depicted here are fictional."

Class of 1984 apes Blackboard Jungle significantly.  Here, there's another new teacher as protagonist, his pregnant wife, several out-of-control teenagers, and a teacher friend who undergoes a terrible loss, in this case the murder of his school room rabbits.  Even the didactic Blackboard Jungle prologue has a corollary in Class of 1984.

Specifically, a title card informs audiences that "last year" (presumably 1981...), there were "280,000 incidents of violence by students against their teachers and classmates."  The card concludes with an ominous note; that the "following film is based partially on a true event."  And yes, the word "partial" certainly leaves the filmmakers quite a degree of wiggle room, and they exploit the loophole to its fullest.

In plot and thematic focus, Class of 1984 is much like Blackboard Jungle on speed.  The films are of different generations, and from different narrative and cinematic traditions, and yet they both reveal a disdain and fear of teenagers, the "next generation."  That's apparently a recurring value in American culture, but Class of 1984 is the more hardcore presentation.  This 1982 film descends into violence and death, rails against failed institutions (such as law enforcement) and resolves not in amity, but in bloody, mortal combat between the generations.  It's final title card, which I won't reveal here, is a testament to the film's cynicism, and yet, it's impossible to deny that the film's finale -- gory as it is -- satisfies the heart.

"Face the music, teacher, teacher..."

Written by Tom Holland, Class of 1984 depicts the story of Mr. Andrew Norris (Perry King), a high school music teacher who has just transferred to the difficult Lincoln High...where students must go through metal detectors before entering the school house.  

Very quickly, Mr. Norris runs afoul of a violent gang, one led by the brilliant but psychotic Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten).  Stegman is not only a bully, but an entrepreneur of sorts, running drugs and a prostitution ring in school.   He is always protected by a gang of enforcers, including a grunting neo nazi, and a skinny heroin addict.

When a music student dies from a drug overdose-spawned accident, Norris vows to punish the "pusher," Stegman (Van Patten).  Although Norris's friend and fellow teacher, Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowall) urges caution and restraint, Norris ignores his advice and spurs a a war between gang and teachers.  The warfare eventually takes Terry's life, and  causes another music student, Arthur (Michael J. Fox) severe injury.  On the night of a big school concert, Stegman and his goons break into Norris's house and gang rape his very pregnant wife, Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross). 

Realizing the impotent local police and school administration can't help him seek justice, Norris exacts bloody vengeance with fire, table saw (!), and automobile.

"What's the matter with you? What's the matter with me? What's the matter with matter?"

I wrote in my introduction that Class of 1984 doesn't really hold together on a logical or cerebral level. In part, this is because the film really stacks the deck in Stegman's favor. In doing so, it makes school bureaucrats and policemen look like ineffectual idiots.  

Al Waxman's detective, in particular, informs Norris that unless someone "sees" Stegman committing a crime, nothing can be done to stop him.  

This fact (ahem) is abundantly untrue in our legal system, and has never been true in our legal system, as I hope discerning viewers would realize.  Eyewitness accounts, forensic science (finger prints!) and even confessions are also helpful when putting away bad elements.  Much of Class of 1984's emotional argument about bad kids stems from this fully-expressed idea of helplessness; this idea that even the law itself is powerless to stop teenage super predators on the rampage.  It's the same irrational thought that underlines much of the cinema of Charles Bronson, and appeals mainly to paranoids.  Our laws just protect criminals!

In more specific terms, the film must jump through some wacky hoops to keep Stegman and his thugs out of jail.  Arthur -- the very young Michael J. Fox -- has witnessed a drug deal, but won't testify as to this fact, thus allowing Stegman to remain on the loose.  Norris spends much of the film trying to get Arthur to testify against Stegman, but he won't.  Then, Arthur is stabbed by one of Stegman's new lackeys, and finally, Arthur agrees to testify.  But here's the rub: he only apparently testifies against the lackey who stabbed him, not against Stegman, whom he witnessed selling drugs.  It makes no sense at all.  In for a penny, in for a pound, right Arthur?  Sensibly, there's no reason why the kid wouldn't tell the police everything he knows, at least to get Stegman off the street for the length of an investigation.

The worst aspect of the film, however, is that it lives up to the Principal's critique of his own school, that "the bad ones take so much of our attention."  

This idea is literalized when, during a brilliant concert performance of the 1812 Overture by the school band, Stegman's corpse -- hanged by a rope -- breaks through a stain glass window on the ceiling.  

In other words, the students who have done well and achieved a victory in the concert see their thunder utterly stolen by the bad more time.  But Class of 1984 doesn't recognize this.  It treats the finale as a triumph, a victory.  It is, I suppose, in the sense that Stegman dies and Norris and his wife survive.  But what about the kids who staked their futures on the concert?

A better ending, I submit, would have seen Norris dispatch the gang, and then return to conduct the orchestra triumphantly.  Instead, the movie just reinforces the idea that good kids get lost in the battle, and are treated with less importance than the bad ones.  Since the film makes you root and support the music students, the visual reiteration of the school principal's negative point is odd and counterproductive, to say the least.

And yet, of course, none of this matters a lick.  

Class of 1984 is an effective and brutal little film, one that activates the primitive impulses of your mind, and makes you absolutely long for vengeance.  This blood lust is achieved not just through violent acts, but through some pretty fine acting.  Once more, I must pinpoint Roddy McDowall's performance, which lifts the whole enterprise. In particular, he has a scene in which he explains to King's newcomer, Norris, why he became a teacher in the first place. It was to touch young lives in a meaningful way, to offer students a real connection to a world larger than their concerns. But his hopes have been quashed and destroyed. The students of Lincoln High want nothing from Corrigan. Nothing.  There's no fact, no theory, no idea, no message about life that he can impart to them, and so his life has become meaningless.  

Accordingly, Corrigan (McDowall) decides that the best way to teach these kids is not with a carrot, but with a stick. He holds his class at gunpoint and begins implementing a snap quiz about biology wherein the students better answer correctly.  Or else.  

In these two scenes, McDowall affords Class of 1984 its human heart.  I realize that movies such as this one don't get nominated for Academy Awards, but goddamn if McDowall didn't absolutely deserve one for his work here.  Sometimes the great work of an actor involves not taking high-falutin material and simply giving it just due, but working on a more problematic script, and elevating the whole affair.  As foolish, illogical and anger-baiting as the rest of Class of 1984 remains, McDowall represents a stark contrast.  Through Corrigan, we see the human toll on the teachers at Lincoln High, and this quality absolutely grounds the picture and makes it more than a simple reach for blood lust.

But you'll feel blood lust too.  

I think that's because, inherently, all human beings covet justice.  We want to see the good rewarded and the bad punished.  And yet our legal system doesn't universally reach a just conclusion.  So we get angry when we see bad people get away, and good people hurt.   We get angry when we see the law, and our schools, and policemen, fail in what we perceive as their duty.

On this front, Class of 1984 turns Stegman into an absolute monster, one who has escaped the law and operates with no fear of being caught.  By the end of the film -- after gang rape and other crimes -- you really do thirst for the deaths of the gang members.  The film obliges in a glorious, bloody denouement.  

You may regret your blood lust after the film ends, but during it, Class of 1984 brilliantly plucks all the right notes of indignation and outrage.  It certainly leaves you feeling...emotionally sated.

You may rightly ask yourself why you want to see a movie that doesn't make sense if you step back and examine it rationally. Or one that provokes your most animal instincts and thirst for vengeance. Or that simplifies a real, mult-ifaceted problem so much that it becomes the basic law of the jungle: kill or be killed.  

I don't believe I can satisfactorily answer those questions, except to suggest that all human beings possess a multitude of psychological shades. As evolved and civilized as we might like to believe we are, there is still that part of our psyche that longs for the re-assertion of justice, even if it is bloody justice.  Bluntly described, Class of 1984 resonates with something powerful in the psyche. The film is extremely effective in delivering what it sets out to give us, and the one-two assault of humanity (in McDowall's performance) and inhumanity (in Van Patten's) makes the bloody movie almost impossible to resist. 

Rationally, I can see how Class of 1984 panders to the worst in human nature. Emotionally, I don't care that this is the case because the film does speak to some basic truth about our human need to see justice prevail.  I can't deny feeling a thrill when Roddy McDowall picks up a gun and begins to lecture his out-of-control class about biology. It's not rational, but when I write here, I'm supposed to level with you, and express myself honestly. For me, this movie worked.

In my book, irrationality aside, Class of 1984 gets a passing grade. But Roddy is the one who did all the extra credit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

25 Years Ago: Event Horizon (1997)

On a purely surface level, the science-fiction/horror film Event Horizon (1997) is a sturdy amalgamation of familiar imagery from the cinema’s storied past and traditions.  
The film’s central visual of a haunted spaceship extruding blood by the gallon seems to emerge from a similar image (of an evil hotel elevator…) in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), for instance.
Meanwhile, the notion of an inscrutable -- and unseen -- alien entity manifesting living “guests” from the memories of bewildered human beings deliberately evokes memories of Tarkovsky’s masterpiece, Solaris (1972).
And certainly -- with doorways to Hell opening and closing willy-nilly, and one character’s transformation (or degradation…) into the Devil’s inquisitor -- there seem to be powerful echoes of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1987) evident here as well.
Ultimately, however, the familiarity of these images does subtract one iota from the film’s thematic coherence or its success as a compelling work of art.  
On the contrary, these visuals are carefully marshaled by director Paul Anderson to convey the film’s overriding theme: Catholic guilt.
Specifically, at least three main characters in Event Horizon suffer from feelings of intense guilt about their past behavior.  
I call it Catholic guilt because that’s an easy and familiar short-hand for many of us. Explicitly speaking, Catholic guilt arises from one’s knowledge of personal wrong-doing. It is felt by all people, however, who are intelligent and insightful enough to realize that they have committed moral trespasses.  
The key aspect that makes this guilt “Catholic,” perhaps, is the knowledge that Jesus died for man’s sins, and yet in sinning again, we betray that merciful act. In sinning, we waste the greatest gift it is possible to receive.
Accordingly, those who suffer with the weight of guilt must decide how to harness and re-purpose their feelings. Knowledge of guilt can lead to great acts…or merely deeper shame.
That is the key leitmotif of Event Horizon, which turns 25 years old this summer.
There are two men -- mirror images -- in the film, who choose to succumb to darkness, but do so for utterly different reasons, and with very different objectives.  
One succumbs as a direct, nihilistic renunciation of faith and goodness, and the other does so as an affirmative act; one of both a self-punishment and self-sacrifice.
Given this theme, Event Horizon is brilliantly constructed -- from sets and dialogue, to camera compositions and special effects -- as a direct expression of Catholicism, and specifically the harsh Catholicism of the Middle Ages.

“God help us.”
In 2047 AD, a small search and rescue ship, Lewis and Clark -- under command of Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) -- is dispatched to Neptune to respond to a distress call from a vessel that has been missing for seven years: Event Horizon.
Aboard the Lewis and Clark is one passenger, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). 
He is the scientist who designed Event Horizon, and he reports to the crew that it was a prototype with a “gravity drive,” an engine that could fold space-time by opening a doorway between dimensions.
After a rocky ride to Event Horizon, the crew of Lewis and Clark explores the derelict ship. 
Lt. Starck (Joely Richardson) is perplexed by the fact that her scanners keep picking up trace life-forms on the ship, but at no specific location.  It’s as though the whole ship is a life-form.
The ship’s doctor, Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), meanwhile, discovers carnage on the long-missing vessel’s bridge. All the crew died, and in grievously bloody circumstances.
Worse, Engineer Justin (Jack Noseworthy) explores the engineering section of the ship, and is pulled into a dark black vortex at the gravity drive site. He returns from his visit to the “other place’ in a state of shock and catatonia.  
Although Weir insists the gravity drive could not have activated itself, Captain Miller begins to grow suspicious of the ship…especially after he sees a strange specter, himself: a burning man from his past.
While technician Cooper (Richard T. Jones) attempts to repair the Lewis and Clark, which was damaged when the gravity drive was apparently activated, the remainder of the ship’s crew starts seeing additional hallucinations.  
Weir keeps seeing his wife, who committed suicide in a bath tub. 
And Peters repeatedly sees phantasms of her crippled young son, whom she left at home on Earth.  
The burning man witnessed by Miller is also someone from a personal and shameful past: an officer whom the captain was forced to leave behind in a catastrophe.
Soon another horror occurs. 
The captain’s log is re-activated, and Miller’s crew sees the Event Horizon crew going mad…totally insane.  The crew’s bizarre and violent behavior leads Dr. Weir to conclude that when it activated the gravity drive, Event Horizon entered a dimension of pure chaos and pure evil…Hell itself.
Now, the ship wants a new crew.
Miller hatches a strategy to destroy Event Horizon and return home, but first must contend with a demonic Weir, a man who has willingly given himself to the dark…

“It knows my fears. It knows my secrets.”

The men and women depicted throughout Event Horizon are all facing a very specific Monster from the Id: guilt.  

First and foremost, Dr. Weir is ravaged by his feelings of guilt. When we first meet the character, he is alone in his quarters on a space station, and he looks longingly at a shrine he has set up to his dead wife.  

He tenderly touches a photograph of her, and says aloud “I miss you.”

This opening sequence brilliantly telegraphs -- without overtly stating it -- the motivations for Weir’s intense guilt. 

We see him use the rest room, and shave his face.  But while he is shaving, his gaze wanders irrevocably over to the bath-tub, where water is dripping ever so slowly. 

Then he stares at the straight razor in his hands…just inches from his own neck.  

With no dialogue or weighty exposition, these visuals immediately convey the connection between objects.  We understand instantly that Weir’s wife took her own life, and that, in some way, Weir feels responsible for her final, monstrous act.

Later, we learn more. When Weir sees the ghost of his wife, she is still nude, and bearing the wounds of her death in the tub. Weir tells her “I know I wasn’t there when you needed me. I let my work come between us.

The source of Weir’s intense guilt is that he never helped his wife. He never went to her when she was hurting, when she needed him.  And worse: he knew she needed him. 

But Weir wanted to continue working (presumably on Event Horizon).  In a very real sense, then, the ship is a child of their failed marriage, a product of his decision to remain away from her. It is his sin personified, and a haunted expression of his guilt.

Weir is tortured by his failure to save his wife, and he experiences visions of her in the “deep cold” of the gravity couch, even before returning to Event Horizon. She speaks words to him that she also no doubt said in real life: “I’m so alone.”  

This is the call for help Weir willfully ignored.

She also says words that indicate her suffering has not ended, even in death.  “Billy, I’m so cold…”

Late in the film, Weir is forced to relive his wife’s suicide in the bath-tub, and perhaps this is the final reckoning for him. 

Instead of continuing to resist the darkness, or finding a constructive way to contend with his guilt, Weir surrenders to it. He gives over to it.

Weir realizes that his sin can’t be forgiven, and that he is truly a terrible sinner. When Miller tells him they must go home, Weir responds that he is already home.  He believes he belongs in Hell…or at least aboard the physical manifestation of his sin, the Event Horizon.

In essence then, Weir doubles-down on his feelings of Catholic Guilt, and is not able to erect something constructive from his emotions or feelings. When his wife implores “Be with me…forever,” Weir consigns himself to damnation. He believes that’s what he deserves.

Captain Miller is the second character in the film suffering explicitly from terrible guilt.  

He keeps seeing phantasms of a man named Corrick, a crewman whom he left behind to die in a fire. 

Corrick’s death has haunted Miller in the same way that Weir’s wife’s suicide has haunted the good doctor. Miller has closed off all of his emotions and humanity, and become a sort of military martinet, one who shows no humanity towards his crew, and yet worries about them incessantly.  

He can’t lose another one. That’s his worst fear:  reliving the pain and the ensuing guilt.

Accordingly, the evil ship manifests the monster from Miller’s id. The burning man -- Corrick -- appears to Miller and begs him “Captain, don’t leave me…”

However, Miller finally does something that Weir never manages: he confesses his guilt. The captain tells one of his crew-members, Smith (Sean Pertwee) the entire story: 

I did the only thing I could. I closed the lifeboat hatch…and I left him.” Miller reveals.

Importantly, it is after this confession of sin and recognition of guilt that Miller starts to take away Event Horizon’s power over him.  

The ship knows his “fears” and “secrets,” but now at least one member of his crew does so as well. With his options for survival narrowed, Miller makes a selfless decision (and one that honors Christ’s choice to “save” mankind):  He remains on Event Horizon to stop Weir so that Starck, Cooper and Justin can live.  

In essence, Miller gives his life for theirs, and thus exorcises his demon, his guilt. By staying behind, and making certain that his crew survives, Miller may go to a dimension of literal damnation, but there is little doubt that he has saved his soul.

Peters is the third major character who suffers from Catholic Guilt in Event Horizon. She was called back onto active duty for the search-and-rescue mission, and had to leave her young, badly-crippled son behind on Earth with her husband.

It is clear that Peters feels she abandoned her child, and early in the film we see her watching home-video footage of the sick boy. 

Once aboard Event Horizon, the ship manifests Peters’ son (though he is actually still alive, on Earth), and her feelings of guilt go into overdrive. She sees him, in particular, as sick and vulnerable.

Then, at the very moment Peters should be trying to escape the ship, she takes a wrong turn instead. She goes the wrong way…pursuing the phantasm of her boy instead of her own survival. It is as if she wants the boy to forgive her, to negate her feelings of guilt. Instead, he leads her to her death.  

Peters’ fate is a demonstration of the fact that guilt -- while sometimes useful -- can also lead one astray, or down blind alleys.

Even a fourth character – a supporting one -- Justin also makes some key references to guilt in Event Horizon.

When he awakens after his journey to “the Other Place” (Hell…), Justin notes that it showed him “the dark place inside” himself, and that seems a veritable definition of how guilt feels.  

It shows you horrible things,” he adds, but importantly, all those horrible things are inside him, and that too defines guilt well: the internal memory of bad deeds committed.

In keeping with the overarching concept of guilt, Event Horizon is dominated by Catholic imagery and allusions.  For example, the exterior of the malevolent spaceship -- when seen from precisely the right angle -- resembles a high-tech crucifix.  

Worse, if inverted it could be interpreted as an upside-down crucifix, suggesting the Hellish nature of the thing. It is a place of sin and guilt made flesh.

At least one window at the fore of the ship, on the bridge, likewise resembles a crucifix. 

In an unforgettable composition from the film’s opening act, a dead human figure floats weightlessly before such a window, his arms outstretched in a Christ-on-the-cross pose.  He has been crucified for his sins, and left for dead.

Similarly, much of the interior of the haunted old ship deliberately reflects the Gothic architecture of European cathedrals, right down to the frequent appearance of arches.  

The main hallway connecting forward life boat and rear propulsion section is but a series of ridged, pointed arches, for example.

Even the ship’s airlocks are labeled rather unconventionally with Medieval Roman numerals. Although invented, of course, in Ancient Rome, these numbers were also  used extensively in the Middle Ages in a regnal fashion…to denote the reigns/identities of Popes, and national rulers. 

And when Weir re-appears one last time for the film’s final sting, just look at his attire.  He wears a space helmet that resembles something out of the Spanish Inquisition, the tribunal tasked with maintaining Catholic orthodoxy.  

In popular culture, the Inquisition has come to symbolize intolerance or a capricious, arbitrary justice. In Event Horizon, the guilty Weir becomes the chief inquisitor of the ship itself -- the chief torturer – and so the helmet seems appropriate.

Further intimating Catholicism, the first message received from Event Horizon upon her return to our universe from Hell is spoken in Latin, like the liturgy of the Mass.  

The words are: “liberate tutame ex infernis.”  

The translation is literally “Save me from Hell.”

As I’ve written before, I believe that a movie reaches its apex of artistry when form and content intermingle meaningfully.  In Event Horizon, the idea of Catholic guilt informs several characters, and the film’s singular, horrifying setting -- a haunted, Catholic spaceship, essentially -- visualizes their strife and turmoil, reflecting the nature of their conflict.

It is also significant that so many figures in the film lose their eyes -- or gouge them out -- from Weir and his wife to Justin and the original Event Horizon crew.

 The idea seems to be that if you can cut out your eyes (the window to the soul?) you can't see your guilt anymore. You can't recognize it.

Of course, that isn't true. Guilt isn't about something external that you can look away from. It's an internal quality of the mind that is always there, even with your eyes shut, even without eyes at all.

There are those who will gaze at this film and see only the visual quotations, the many resonances of popular culture or the horror genre. They are present, to be certain.

However, Event Horizon travels some distance beyond mere homage to cogently express its riveting (and frequently grotesque…) tale of guilt and regret, damnation, and salvation.  

The film serves as a brilliant "yang" to the "yin" of another 1997 genre film, Contact. The light, new age mysticism of that Jodie Foster movie contrasts very strongly with the heavy, almost dungeon-like Medieval exterior and interior architecture of Event Horizon. 

Both films concern "portals" that open to other dimensions, and reveal something of human spirituality.  Here, many of the discoveries are dark ones, but Miller's sacrifice, while grim,  is a positive takeaway. 

Hell is just a word, as Dr. Weir notes here, but Event Horizon visualizes the grim reality of that word in ways that are unforgettable, horrifying, and, finally, aesthetically coherent.   

National Twilight Zone Day: "Come Wander with Me"

There are, perhaps, several episodes of Rod Serling's classic   The Twilight Zone  (1959-1964) more sharply-written, more morally-valuab...