Anderson doesn't hold with any of this modern irony, and so concentrates on delivering a torrent of gut-busting surprises, mostly shameless culls from sci-fi's back catalogue. The Thing and Alien get revisited, and there are nods to terrestrial horrors like Don't Look Now - but the plot is largely stolen from Tarkovsky's Solaris (itself indebted to Kubrick's 2001).
But, to its credit, Event Horizon never pretends to be anything other than a series of highly efficient rip-offs. It even mimics science fiction's traditional disregard for character development. Character functions are demarcated with the certainty of a more innocent age: Richard T Jones's thumpingly obvious comic crewman takes all the gags, leaving Fishburne's cardboard captain to face off the shipboard horrors. Harry Fowler did it for Anthony Dexter in Fire Maidens from Outer Space; Earl Holliman did it for Leslie Neilsen in Forbidden Planet; it's a cherished convention of the genre.
Word of mouth had been discouraging on Kevin Spacey's directorial debut, Albino Alligator (18), and although it's another addition to the crowded heist-gone-wrong genre, its ambition to be serious makes it more satisfying than most. A trio of robbers-on-the-run take the occupants of a basement bar hostage, and this provides an excuse for some well judged - if predictable - character work between a cast headed by Matt Dillon and Faye Dunaway. Christian Forte's script starts a little shakily, but it finds its feet once it has stopped trying to be Dog Day Afternoon, heading squarely into David Mamet territory. Spacey lets his actors act and lets us watch them doing it, and there's so much energy whizzing about that they almost pull off a fuzzily motivated and implausible ending.
Another virgin auteur, Leslie Grief, doesn't get away with so much in Keys to Tulsa (18), a muddled attempt to reinvent the Douglas Sirk school of full-blooded Southern melodrama for the Tarantino generation. Eric Stoltz - the thinking man's Michael J Fox - stars as a poor little rich boy embroiled in other people's criminal schemes. The plot is full of italicised twists and kooky set-pieces, but grossly over-plotted and overwritten: it capsizes under its burden of narrative and dialogue. And at some stage of production it was even busier. The press-release synopsis describes an unfilmed conclusion, in which the heroine (Joanna Going) crashes through some French windows in an Alfa Romeo, and the villain (James Coburn) gets sucked up by a tornado and impaled on a radio aerial.
In Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion (12), titular airheads Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow return to their alma mater determined to prove they've not wasted the intervening decade, and attempt to impress their peers by claiming to have invented Post-Its. The film's been called "Dumb and Dumber with Babes", but this pair of protagonists make Carry and Daniels look like Watson and Crick. It's really much closer to a Caucasian version of last month's B.A.P.S. (W.A.P.S.?), although its satire on the brutalities of high-school social life are a lumbering rerun of smarter stuff from Heathers and Clueless. As she did in Mighty Aphrodite, Sorvino rises above knackered material that seems set on patronising her character. She just about keeps her dignity. Alan Cumming, miscast as an Arizona alumnus, also deserves better, but his utterly charming star quality - largely dependent on a grin so disarming it could also resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict - prevents him from looking too foolish.
Unfortunately, even that has more coherence than Les Blair's disappointing Jump the Gun (15), South Africa's first post-apartheid comedy. There are plenty of witty sequences, notably one in which naive redneck Clint (Lionel Newton) uses Phil Collins as evidence of the white race's superior contribution to music. But the film has a shaky grasp on the psychologies of its characters, and can't seem to justify their actions satisfactorily. The female leads, Gugu (Baby Cele) and Minnie (Michele Burgers) are particularly opaque. Minnie is made all the more puzzling as Blair's camera spends the first two reels suggesting - to me at least - that she's going to turn out to be a transvestite.
Finally, the re-release of Rene Clement's Plein Soleil (PG) offers Alain Delon as an anti-hero as unflappably perverse as an Orton protagonist. He's Mr Sloane with a baccalaureate, murdering his best mate and stealing his identity and his yacht. Filmed in sumptuous colour, it's a deliciously amoral thriller with a devilishly attractive star. Stick a photo of him on the biscuit tin and you'll never pig out again.Reuse content