Into Pitch Black is Syfy’s largely forgotten TV sequel to Vin Diesel’s breakout movie – and features an odd cameo from the star too. While The Fast And The Furious made Diesel into a movie star, his breakthrough – and arguably still his best performance – came with sci-fi horror Pitch Black. This 2000 adventure cast Diesel as Riddick, a dangerous convict who is stranded on a barren planet with a group of civilians after their ship crashes. The planet is also home to a race of Bioraptors, which are vicious creatures that can only exist in the dark; unfortunately for the survivors, a total eclipse is incoming.
Pitch Black is pure b-movie schlock, but its cool (if silly) premise, the likable cast and creative monsters made it a word of mouth success. It was also greatly added by Vin Diesel’s performance, and the star soon went on to bigger budget projects. Riddick is a character close to Diesel’s heart too and he’s returned to play the character in two sequels, an anime spinoff, and even a critically acclaimed video game.
One Riddick outing that tends to be completely forgotten is 2000’s Into Pitch Black, a TV special from Syfy (formerly The Sci-Fi Channel). Into Pitch Black is an oddity from top to bottom, taking place before and after the events of the movie. It mixes random clips from Pitch Black into sections focusing on a psychologist who tried to study Vin Diesel’s Riddick in prison, the doctor who gave him his famous “eyeshine” ability, and a Lawman trying to hire a female mercenary to track Riddick down six months after the film.
There’s also a found footage-style section where a recovery team lands on the planet where the ship crashed in Pitch Black. They explore the wreckage and uncover a body, but they’re later wiped out by a storm. The psychologist sections feature some appearances by Vin Diesel himself via camera footage from Riddicks’ cell. Sadly, he doesn’t say anything and his screentime in this 40-minute special is tiny, despite prominent billing. Into Pitch Black also suggests Riddick is mildly psychic, as he draws a picture of random shapes which later turn out to be the layout of the guards he kills following his offscreen escape.
The bulk of Into Pitch Black is taken up with Brian Gant’s (Grimm) chainsmoking Lawman and the female merc, with the former giving her background information on the key characters of Pitch Black. The Lawman knows better than to head to the planet, but the merc believes he wants to recover some treasure from the crashed ship for himself. She steals his gear but decides against going to the wreckage as she gets a glimpse of the creatures on the planet.
Apparently, Pitch Black director David Twohy gave some creative input into this special, but it’s only something the most devoted fans should seek out. Later sequels have rendered much of Into Pitch Black – like Riddick’s “eyeshine” origin – non-canon, while it was clearly shot for little money. The acting isn’t great either, while Vin Diesel himself barely appears. That said, it’s easy to find online for those who want to explore every facet of the franchise.