“Event Horizon” continues the long tradition of “love it or hate it” movies that I myself tend to gravitate towards. Like “The spirit” certain elements transcend the film, and some tend to pull it down. Certainly I feel the actors do a splendid job, the costumes and certainly the spacesuits are incredibly cool, the set design always interesting although rushed given the ten week greenlight to shooting instigated by the studio. Sadly as most films the movie fails at the starting line with a poorly defined script that never really gels….and in the end the film is sucked into itself much like the black hole that the film is about.
The movie did hit between the eyes with the spacesuits though and that’s the subject of this article, the incredibly detailed pieces that were made by the English company FBFX, and designed by John Mollo who was already famous for the excellent work he did on “Alien”, “Outland” and the “Star Wars” films. The costumes original space suit designs included many practical features such as an integrated filter blower system in the bottom of the portable life support system (backpack) into the helmet to keep the visor clear and the actor cool, thousands of LEDs that pulsated rhythmically to indicate life support functionality (with a secret ‘panic mode’ switch to quicken the pace when the plot required it!) and industrial magnets embedded in the soles of the boots to add to the realism of scenes featuring active magnetic boots. Mollo’s work on the previous movies helped create a memorable and functional design that I loved the second I saw it.
Then the inevitable hunt began. It was only today actually I found FBFX’s website. The spacesuits were sold to “The Propstore” in the late 1990’s and slowly found there way out to the public domain. 3 of the suits can still be found on their archive site, a Peters, an incomplete Smith stunt suit and what I assume is either the suit I purchased from Screenused or a sister costume.
Here is the original breakdown of my costume from their site:
- Helmet – The helmet has wires that connect to the inside of the back pack, providing power for the various lights on the helmet. Various lights on the front and back of the helmet move in sequence with two settings based on a switch in the helmet. The inside of the helmet lights up with a dimly lit panel in front of the face area. Both the helmet and neck ring are marked “Anna”. There are some small cracks in the helmet in some areas from screen use, though it does not distract from the overall condition.
- Jacket and pants – Made of heavy, thick cloth in various silver/purple colors with yellow stripes. Both have been very distressed and the jacket includes metal cuffs, and various patches. “Justin” written on a tag in the jacket, and “Sam Neill” in the pants.
- Chest pack – Made of fiberglass, plastic, metal, cloth, etc. with no markings.
- Back pack – Made of fiberglass, plastic and other materials, marked inside “Pack 2”. This houses most of the control electronics, along with a rechargable battery pack to power up all the lights in the back pack and helmet.
- Belt and packs – Large belt made of leather, marked “D.J.” inside. Also, two silver packs that hang from the belt both marked “D.J”, and one for the arm marked “D.J. Double”.
- Boots – Two custom made rubber boots with plastic accents. They hold two 9v batteries to light up the “headlight” on the fronts along with the gravity lights. Built in micro switch in the sole changes the lights from red to green (see movie above). Both boots marked “Sean / Paul” inside.
From research done after the sale it would appear that amongst others these are Sean Pertwee’s boots, Jason Isaac’s belt, the backpack is clearly Justin’s (Jack Noseworthy) as it has the specific “bear” decal on the reverse, Justin’s jacket and Sam Neil’s pants, and Anna Stacey for the Helmet who was the stunt double for either Kathleen Quinlan or Joely Richardson. The nice thing is that most parts of the suit are color coded to the particular actor but its also clear during production these items were swopped around from actor to actor, probably as items were damaged. The suits did cost a great amount of money to produce according to a source…$25k each.
Surely one of the main reasons for this and what makes this costume so striking is the huge amount of work gone into simulating readouts on the suit. These also are used to show moments in the film when the suit is leaking air, activated by a small switch in the helmet that changes the normal lights to a “DANGER” mode, completely changing the colors and frequency of the LED’s. Its an amazing piece of work….highly intricate and one of the reasons the outfit intrigues me so much.
Even the boots have lights…one in the toe area, and the other lights are used to indicate if the magnets to attach to the deck are in effect. These switch is hidden inside the sole of the boot so when the actor walked the ligts were switched from red to green….a clever effect.
To stop the actors having to remove the helmet every take an air intake system was designed that stopped the costume fogging up but also made them comfortable to wear, and the whole costume was powered by internal batteries.
Most of the costume seems to be completely made from scratch with few items taken from the real world apart from the gloves that have had rubber widgets added. Great attention to detail was taken even down to the patches that were made to show the nationality of the character. The BMW motorcycle lights in the helmet were designed to illuminate the set without additional film crew lighting and are very powerful. Small details abound include a map in the left pocket, and the small metal clip that is on a retraction line allowing the crew member to attach himself to the outside of the ship.
A shout out to “Propstore” for making these items available in the first place and their beautiful pictures, and to “Screenused” for doing a great job with helping me purchase this in the first place. The packing was superb. Thank you both.