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Pitch Black

Year: 2000
Production Co: Interscope Communications
Director: David Twohy
Writer: David Twohy/Jim Wheat/Ken Wheat
Cast: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, David Keith
When David Twohy did the 2004 sequel to this underground hit (The Chronicles of Riddick), he'd be following a very familiar arc to the depths plunged by the Wachowski brothers before him.

After their small, nimble, cool, come-from-nowhere and expectation-free sci-fi movie rewrote the book on everything from action to Aldous Huxley, they took their wonderful property and injected it to overfull with turkey fat, ham, corn and cheese soup until it dribbled cliché and became the overweight, lumbering, bloated Hollywood sci-fi spectacular it had knocked off the perch just a few years before.

Twohy's little-movie-that-could about a ragtag band crash landing on a remote planet with a nasty secret was similarly exciting to catch when it was just getting attention.

A simpler tale was never told - when a ship full of disparate travellers crash lands on a planet with three suns, the survivors seemed doomed to cook. But they soon discover that every few months, all three suns are gone from the sky and once, and the planet's nasty original residents - huge, arrow-headed flying stingray-like creatures hungry for human flesh - come to the surface to feed. Worse still, it's nearly sunset...

With a violent escaped convict, a devout Muslin, a tough but decent pilot and more have to band together to live through it, we're left with a classic who'll fall-who'll-come-through character piece with doom creeping towards them through the dark.

Scary, clever, simple, well-executed and effective. It announced the arrival of Vin Diesel who's only just harpooning his career with Babylon AD as I write this. Pretend the 2004 follow-up doesn't exist.

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