One of the most effective monster movies species in recent decades are the photosensitive “bioraptors” from 2000’s Pitch Black, the first film in the Riddick Trilogy. Directed by David Twohy on a modest budget of $23 million, and starring Vin Diesel as the warrior/convicted murderer Riddick, the film developed a cult following and became the sleeper hit of the year. Pitch Black spawned two sequels, 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick, released in 2013. A fourth film is currently in the development phase.
Taking place 500 years in the future, the space horror film concerns the survivors of the Hunter-Gratzner, a freighter-transport starship that crash lands on the desert planet M6-117 after the hull is ruptured by cosmic debris. Due to it’s galactic position in a system with three large stars, the sun-baked barren planet exists in a state of perpetual bright daylight, except for those times when the triple suns align in a total eclipse which can last anywhere from months to decades. During these rare eclipses, which occur roughly every twenty two years, almost all life on the planet is wiped out.
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The survivors seek refuge in a dark cave. Exploring it, they stumble upon a long abandoned geological research settlement, along with a derelict shuttle that could be their salvation. But they are soon set upon by the bioraptors, highly photosensitive animalistic alien creatures that live in the pitch dark cave systems beneath the sun-scorched surface above. The group’s only hope may be the convict Riddick, played by Diesel — a dangerous criminal with surgically modified eyes that allow him to see in the dark.
Pitch Black’s Creatures Explained: Origins & Powers
Designed for the film by VFX concept artist Patrick Tatopoulos, the eyeless, somewhat xenomorph-like bioraptors have thin streamlined bodies with large anchor shaped heads and forked tails. Their blood is a viscous blue-black color and their wings grant them limited flight. The cannibalistic monsters exist almost entirely underground and survive by feeding on their own. They emerge during the planet’s rare eclipses which plunge the surface of M6-117 into darkness to massacre all other life on the planet.
The genius of Pitch Black‘s creatures are their contradictions. Despite existing on a planet with almost constant planetwide daylight, the subturranean monsters are incredibly sensitive to light. And the photosensitivity only increases as the bioraptors age. While the younger, smaller creatures can tolerate small amounts of light, the older, larger monsters can be severely burned by even the beam of a flashlight.
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