The Black Hole


black hole hell maximillion
Like much of Disney’s output during the late seventies/early eighties there is an undercurrent in this film that’s a tad bit unsettling. It’s not a proper horror film for sure, but in some ways it follows the classic trope closer than most “proper” horror films do. What’s that you say? Unkle lancifer has lost his marbles? Before you grab your torches hear me out. We start off with a group of desperate travelers looking for shelter. This is how every old dark house thriller begins including OLD DARK HOUSE. They then find what appears to be an abandoned ghost ship to take refuge in. Resembling a gothic cathedral, the spacecraft Cygnus could be viewed as a sort of haunted castle. Inside they meet a mad scientist MAXMILLIAN SCHELL and his formidable creation Maximillion, a bulky metal Golem that one of the characters compares to Frankenstein’s monster (He actually looks like a giant floating swiss army knife.) Suspicious of their host, the travelers try to settle in as they learn clue after clue about their benefactor’s true nature. After horror icon ANTHONY PERKINS is killed by the dreaded Maximillion (he’s shredded by one of his blades) the jig is indeed up. It is also revealed that the entire crew of the ship including one of the traveler’s fathers, has fallen prey to Reinhart’s experiments and are now zombie slaves. The rest of the movie of course concerns the escape and destruction of the “castle”. True, there are cute robots and lots of laser gun firing but this is all just sci-fi window dressing. THE BLACK HOLE even offers a glimpse into a place few horror films dare go…hell itself. The film’s final astonishing set pieces involve rivers of flowing lava, fiery explosions and the marching of hooded figures through a cavernous landscape that would give HEIRONYMUS BOSCH pause. You gotta feel sorry for all the lil’ tykes out there who were just looking to tame their STAR WARS jones. Sure there ARE long stretches that are goofy and outdated and the cast seems ripped from one of the era’s lesser disaster flicks but THE BLACK HOLE is much, much darker than you’d think.


    • The introduction of Maximillion
    • Perkins trying to protect himself with a book and failing miserably
    • Reinhardt and Maximillion merging atop a cliff and making a scarab-like silhouette


    hellscape hell robots

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    14 years ago

    I personally see the connection between Dr. Hans Reinhardt and “MAXIMILIAN” in more subtle way:
    It resembles very near to the story of FAUST – a scientist who signs a pact with the devil itself. For that the devil does as the scientist wishes, but in return gets his soul. “The black hole” directly points to that specifically, showing “MAXIMILIAN” in hell with the “soul” of Dr. Hans Reinhardt trapped inside for eternity.

    I think this movie has a lot more darkness and depth than you can grasp on the first view. Considering it’s a Disney movie from 1979 this is very astonishing. I would not go that far to say it is on par with “2001”, but let’s just say it may be some sort of younger brother, if you will.

    Amanda By Night
    13 years ago

    This is another movie my father took me to see (along with the Island), where now I shake my head and scream, “WHY?” Well, it was a Disney movie, so it must be OK for a kid!

    I didn’t seen again for years afterwards and yeah, I was struck by how friggin dark the dang thing is.  It’s a fairly upsetting movie (with the Perkins murder ranking #1 in “OH FUCK!”). Now, it’s been years again since I’ve seen it. I should give it another re-visit…