While moviegoers are used to hearing about the latest remake and sequel, some of us forget that we were actually around when the originator of a now popular franchise began. I may not have been born when Michael Myers first slashed his way on the big screen, but I was in the theater when we were introduced to Ghost Face and Jigsaw. I was in fifth grade when the original Scream was released and remember it being a shared secret in the hallways of who the man behind the mask was. The mystery of the killer’s identity was not a new concept, but it felt fresh in 1996 when original material was hard to find. The critical and financial success of Scream led to sequels as well as bigger budget genre films. One of those was PITCH BLACK.
In the distant future, a spaceship is transporting all kinds of passengers. The ship goes off course when hit by comet debris, killing their captain. The survivors step onto a planet that sits permanently in daylight. However, they soon learn that hidden on the planet’s research settlements are creatures that live in the darkness. Their survival seems simple enough, but an eclipse presents itself. The crew is now forced to rely on Riddick, a criminal with surgically modified eyes that can see in the dark.
An original entry into the genre, PITCH BLACK was met with satisfying results, enough to warrant a franchise, but that could also be due to that Riddick was played by soon to be A-lister Vin Diesel. While this was not his first film, it was his time carrying a film and his likeness was used for plenty of the marketing. The later films shifted more towards action-oriented fun, but PITCH BLACK went straight for the horror aspects of a science fiction setting.
Two decades later, we get a new 4K restoration thanks to Arrow Video so fans old and new can revisit. Both theatrical and director’s cuts are included along with archival commentaries from cast and crew. Some of the new material includes interviews with Rhiana Griffith, Claudia Black, David Eggby, and Peter Chiang, just to name a few. Completists will be pleased to know that Arrow has included The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, the animated short film used to bring this and the sequel. Not only that, but Dark Fury also comes with its own series of special behind the scenes features. More prequel/sequel material is included such as the motion comic from the official site, a TV special, and a prequel narrated by Cole Hauser in character.
To coincide with the light and dark themes, fans can reverse the artwork depending on which color scheme they prefer. The original Blu-ray of PITCH BLACK was during the early days of the format. Things have come a long way and those improvements are reflected in this upgrade. While the already fine audio track remains not much different, there’s plenty of visuals to warrant this purchase, even if you already own the previous release. The downside here is that, unlike most 4K releases, Arrow only provides the 4K disc here. In other words, you have to purchase PITCH BLACK twice if you wish to own both the 4K and Blu-ray versions as they are sold separately.
Even with that, physical media collectors will make their decisions and I wouldn’t be surprised to see fans purchase both editions. It’s a great movie to watch alone and with friends and fulfills all sorts of needs in genre fans. PITCH BLACK continues to stand as one of the great entries in science fiction horror.