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Face-Off: Pitch Black Vs. The Descent

09.02.2013by: Mike Catalano
The few folks who commented on our last Face-Off were in agreement with me that Invasion of the Body Snatchers does indeed easily take over The Stepford Wives in terms of body-switching classic horror.

For today's Face-Off, we decided to turn off the lights in honor of Vin Diesel's RIDDICK, which opens this Friday, and bring out two horror flicks that give new meaning to being afraid of the dark. So, throw on your night-vision goggles and maybe grab a pick-axe as we present PITCH BLACK Vs. THE DESCENT.

Creatures
These alien monsters that only come out in the night are truly terrifying. Very similar to the species from Aliens and just as dangerous. They are incredibly fast, can climb like crazy, and display a large mouth of razor-sharp teeth. And if that's not enough, they can easily impale you with their sword-like tails. Oh, and they can f*cking fly too! If you get caught outside when the suns go down, better grab some butter because you is toast, homey!
Oh, man these freaky bastards that have been living underground for who knows how long, are relentless and hungry. They may be primitive, but they've got sharp claws and pointed teeth that rip to shreds the flesh of any living thing they come into contact with. On the negative side, they are not super strong and can be overpowered and killed with any type of blunt object. And inside a dark cave, there are plenty blunt objects.
Gore
The gru flies freely in Pitch Black thanks to those crazy alien monsters that hunt in huge numbers. We are treated to a nasty display of bloody carnage from impalings to head munching. The violence these creatures bring about more than earns the flick's R rating.
Okay, the violence in The Descent comes out when you least expect it and then explodes in a visceral array of shocking intensity. Whether it's the cave monsters tearing apart a woman's flesh, a woman gouging out a cave monster's eyes, or a woman sending a pick-axe accidentally through the neck of another woman, this flick's gore is great!
Action
The outer space, interplanetary setting of Pitch Black definitely opens the door for loads of kick-ass action. We get a spaceship's crash landing, a fight among crew members for supremacy, and a non-stop battle to escape the sharp clutches of those pesky night beasts. The thrills are never in short supply.
When the shit really hits the fan around the midway point of The Descent, it feels like we are literally on one long, steep roller coaster drop. The creatures pop out from everywhere and our girls make no bones about doing whatever the hell they can to escape to freedom. It is truly heart-pounding.
Hero
It is this flick that first introduced the world to Richard B. Riddick, Vin Diesel's shiny-eyed shit kicker. This character brings new meaning to the word bad-ass with his blunt deliveries and scrappy fighting ability. I mean, the dude goes head to head with one of the night creatures and doesn't end up dead! Even though his "Chronicles" sequel/spin-off blew, I'm hoping his third go-round ends up making him a lock to go down in history as one of the greatest cinema anti-heroes to ever grace the silver screen.
One would have never expected to see Sarah take on the role of hero from how she begins the film. However, after she is pushed to the limit, her animal instincts take over and bring about the most intense character transitions in modern horror. Shauna Macdonald is incredible as she unleashes her inner beast on all the creatures and one particular bitch that attempt to take her life. Her completely committed performance makes it all shockingly believable.
Ending
After rescuing the remaining crew and leading them back to their repaired ship, Riddick confronts and battles a night creature. Hearing his cries, Carolyn goes back to help him. After she finds him, the two attempt to head back when suddenly, the creature strikes. We are all shocked as Carolyn is the one pulled off into the darkness by a creature. Not looking to go out on a negative note, Riddick slyly says "good night" to a batch of creatures by using the spaceship to burn up and mow down a bunch.
Just letting you know, I'm going with this flick's original un-Americanized ending. Now fully aware of who Juno truly is, Sarah takes out her leg with a pick-axe and leaves her to be vanquished by the creatures. We then watch as Sarah discovers a ray of sunlight and is able to escape back to the world above the ground. She locates a car and flees the woods. She pulls over along the side of a road to gain composure. She looks to the passenger side and sees a ghostly Juno. She freaks and then wakes up to she her daughter (long deceased) smiling before a birthday cake with glowing candles. The camera does a little spin-around and we soon learn that Sarah is merely still stuck in the cave staring at nothing. Her fiery torch becomes the glow that once was candles. The camera pulls away from her and we hear the sounds of the creatures drawing nearer. So disheartening. So beautiful.
Pitch Black
Wow! I've gotta say that I was not expecting this outcome. Still, after looking over each category again and again, I really can't argue with the results. Pitch Black took down The Descent and that's that... or is it? What say you, my faithful reader? Do the results speak for themselves or am I in the dark here?! Spit them bullets below! And feel free to send any future Face-Off ideas to me at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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