Three decades ago, "Alien" set the standard for the sci-fi subgenre of the spaceship as haunted house. With the exception of the 1986 sequel "Aliens," no film has even come close to it, but Hollywood continues to trot them out.

"Pandorum" is one of the latest, from producer Paul W.S. Anderson (who threw his own hat into the ghost-ship ring with 1997's underrated "Event Horizon").

In the year 2174, two men aboard the spaceship Elysium wake up: Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid) and Corp. Bower (Ben Foster). They don't remember who they are, where they are or what they're doing there. As their minds become less cloudy from their eight-year sleep cycle, they piece together facts, such as Earth has been destroyed and their wives are supposed to be onboard, along with about 60,000 others. But they seem to be alone.

Trapped in the sleep chamber room because of a power outage, Bower leaves Payton behind to climb through the air ducts and see what's what. He soon finds out that there are a few other people on the ship "¦ but that most of them are mutants.

These creatures are pale-faced, run fast and shriek like little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert "? all representative of the vampires in "30 Days of Night." They also look like they've dressed themselves using remainders from the final day of GWAR's garage sale, and used the savings to order some Ginsu knives from an infomercial. Bower has the ability to blast them to smithereens using a plasma-pulse beam he wears on his hand like a glove, but no worries, gore fans: There will be blood.

In theaters, much of "Pandorum" was tough to decipher visually. On DVD, it's easier to see, and therefore, easier to enjoy. Regardless, what we have is a minimally effective, no-harm-done horror thriller "? not the worst of its kind, nor the best, but it'll do.

Then again, I'm one of those who'll watch Quaid in anything. Like Kurt Russell, he never quite made it as big as he deserved, but he's a much better actor than he's given credit for, even when the material "? like this "? doesn't call for it. "?Rod Lott

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