Long before he was voicing Groot or driving cars in a fast and furious manner, Vin Diesel was bringing an iconic criminal to life, known as Richard B. Riddick.
This science fiction franchise has spanned several subgenres between films, but the one think that links them together is Vin Diesel’s performance as the lovable (and badass) Riddick.
And it all began 20 years ago, with the release of Pitch Black. So, in honor of its 20th anniversary, here are 20 enlightening facts about Pitch Black!
1. Originally, the studio wanted director David Twohy to go with an A-list cast, but he decided against it, believing that they would simply “stand around while their stunt doubles do all the work”. Twohy knew it would be a very demanding shoot, both physically and mentally, and he felt that unknowns would work much harder.
2. Before taking on the role of co-writing and directing Pitch Black, David Twohy had worked as a screenwriter on The Fugitive, G.I. Jane, and Waterworld. Citing frustrations at how his scripts would get “messed up” by directors, he decided to try directing a film himself.
3. In a strange coincidence, the film’s plot bears a striking resemblance to a 1955 novel “Tunnel in the Sky” by Robert A. Heinlein. Both involve a group of people stranded on a planet, trying to escape, as well as a female character disguising herself as male.
4. Wanting a vast, exotic location, the production decided to film in southern Australia, the very same location where Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was filmed.
5. Speaking of the iconic road warrior, the film’s cinematographer, David Eggby (a local Australian) also shot the original Mad Max film back in 1979.
6. Pitch Black served as Vin Diesel’s introduction to most moviegoing audiences. Prior to this, he had a small role in Saving Private Ryan, as well as providing his voice in The Iron Giant, and he appeared as an uncredited background extra in Awakenings.
7. The ferocious bioraptors had their physical appearance based on a cross between a great white shark and a pterodactyl.
8. The contacts that Vin Diesel wore for the glowing eye effect were actually prototypes, but were made available (briefly) by Lens Quest. Sadly, there’s no way to purchase them anymore.
9. Riddick’s name may be partially inspired by Riddoch’s Syndrome, a real life phenomenon where people can only see things based on movement (like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park).
10. Because the Australian desert gets so hot in the summer, they had to shoot in the winter, resulting in temperatures reaching 50 degrees (F) on set. The sweat we see on the actors was actually mist the crew had to spray on them.
11. While filming the suspended animation scene, Vin Diesel reportedly got quite claustrophobic, and had a minor panic attack.
12. While scientists have only ever theorized about solar systems with three suns like the in movie, they have observed systems with twin suns that orbit each other (much like Tatooine in Star Wars).
13. In the original script, Riddick was meant to die and Carolyn was meant to survive to the end. However, the studio decided that Riddick had the potential to be more popular, and thus wanted to keep him alive, in case they ever did a sequel.
14. While it wasn’t a big hit upon release, Pitch Black has since gained the status of cult classic. Unlike most other sci-fi films, it shows a world with things actually look old and decrepit.
15. There is an actual condition similar to that which afflicted the bioraptors. Xeroderma Pigmentosum is a condition in which the sufferer’s skin will burn very easily, from UV sunlight. Everyone is capable of being sunburnt, but in this case, it barely takes any light to do it.
16. When asked if Riddick was based on any mythological figure, David Twohy stated that he always saw Riddick as more of a force of nature than a character allegory.
17. The 2009 Doctor Who Easter Special “Planet of the Dead” was allegedly inspired by this movie as well. In the episode, The Doctor winds up on a bus that gets stranded on a desert planet, where they must deal with a swarm of creatures.
18. One of many things to praise about Pitch Black is its awesome musical score, that’s both intense and inspiring. The score was composed by Graeme Revell, whose unique body of work includes: The Crow, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Craft, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and the TV series Gotham.
19. After the lackluster reception of the film’s sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, it seemed that the franchise was done. But in 2013, Vin Diesel reprised the character again in Riddick, a film that he produced as well, even mortgaging his own house to help pay for it.
Universal had given him full rights to the character on the sole condition that he return to the Fast and Furious franchise, which he did, and still appears in today!
20. We’re not done with Riddick, as there’s currently a fourth film in the planning stage (no release date yet), tentatively titled Furya.
What do you like most about Pitch Black? What do you hope to see in the next sequel? Let us know in the comments below! And for more lists, reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!