Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Pitch Black

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 2000

'Pitch Black'

"Is there a spot for me in Fast Six?"

What evil lurks: Director David Twohy manages to make an entire planet seem claustrophobic as a band of survivors from a crashed spacecraft discover they have arrived just in time for a full-blown blackout eclipse on a planet orbiting three suns. Though largely remembered as the launch of Vin Diesel’s leading-man career, Pitch Black is a smart science fiction horror film that has its protagonists forever on the run from the planet’s carnivorous, nocturnal monsters. As played by Diesel, murderous criminal Riddick is probably the best anti-hero since Snake Plissken, trading out the trademark eye-patch for a pair of see-in-the-dark peepers. And unlike other movie bad guys, he doesn’t drift off into do-gooder land. In fact, none of the lead characters are entirely evil or wholesome, with Cole Hauser gussying himself up in lawman’s attire as a bounty hunter intent on trading Riddick in for a hefty payday, and Radha Mitchell as the docking pilot who eagerly tries to jettison her living cargo but winds up leading the survivors to safety.

Highlight from hell: The spaceship crash that starts the film is a harrowingly well-executed piece of cinema.

Terrifying trivia: The hot desert where they filmed was actually about 50F. They were misting water on the actors to make it appear as if they were sweating.

Diabolical dialogue: “Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God… and I absolutely hate the fucker.”

Son of: Aliens (1986). Make no mistake, this James Cameron sequel is unquestionably inferior to Ridley Scott’s classic monster movie. However, Pitch Black takes most of its cues from The Terminator director’s follow-up.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: There’s rather a lot of ambient light, belying the movie’s title.