Chancellor Gorkon is assassinated (Star Trek VI)
Supernatural horror often steals the show at Halloween—”ghosties and ghoulies and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night,” as the old Scottish prayer puts it. But the older I get, the less the idea of make-believe monsters frightens me, because the more I realize this world has no shortage of real-life horrors to throw at us.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country spotlights one such horror: politically motivated violence. The sequence in which Starfleet personnel (as we will learn) beam aboard Kronos One and kill Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) and several other Klingons is one of the most tense and terrifying sequences in any Star Trek film, and there’s nothing supernatural about it.
It does, however, showcase a fair amount of visual effects. Gorkon’s assassination was the first extended zero-gravity action sequence we ever saw in a Star Trek production. It’s filled with striking images of weightlessness. The disruptor floating out of one Klingon’s holster. Another Klingon’s severed arm spinning lazily in mid-air. And, of course, those globules of purple-pinkish Klingon blood drifting above it all, colliding into each other, only to splatter on the deck plates once artificial gravity is restored.
In his 2009 memoir The View from the Bridge, director and co-writer Nicholas Meyer recalls how clearly he envisioned this sequence in his mind’s eye:
"I was giving myself goose bumps. Thus far, I [had been] thinking in my role as screenwriter. Now I felt a tap on my shoulder from my alter ego, the director, demanding to know how the hell I thought an effect of floating blood bubbles (of any color) was going to be achieved (page 205)."
As it turned out, Meyer needn’t have worried. The zero-G murder of Chancellor Gorkon is compelling and frightening, aided and abetted by composer Cliff Eidelman’s ominous, Gustav Holst-inspired score.
Nearly 31 years after Star Trek VI premiered, politically motivated violence haunts the U.S. now more than ever. May the franchise’s vision of diversity, cooperation, and peace motivate us to reject this terror and work to keep such scary stuff only on the silver screen.
What are your suggestions for Star Trek Halloween movie viewing? Let us know in the comments below!