Prince Of Darkness – One of Carpenter's and horror's most underrated film of all time.
“Let's talk about our beliefs and what we can learn about them. We believe nature is solid and time is consent. Matter has substance, time a direction. There is truth in the flesh, in the solid ground. The wind may be invisible but it's real. Smoke, fire, water, light...their different not as stone or steel but tangible and we assume time is narrow because it is as a clock. One second is one second for everyone. Cause proceeds effect. Fruit rots, water runs down stream. We're born, we age...we die. The reverse never happens! None of this is true. Say goodbye to classical reality, because our logic collapses onto the subatomic level. Ghosts have many shadows...”
PLOT - A sinister secret has been kept in the basement of an abandoned Los Angeles church for many years. With the death of a priest belonging to a mysterious sect, another priest opens the door to the basement and discovers a vat containing a green liquid. The priest contacts a group of physics graduate students to investigate it. Unfortunately, they discover that the liquid contains the essence of Satan himself, and they also discover that he will release HIS father - an all-powerful Anti-God! The liquid later comes to life itself, turning some of the students into zombies as the Devil comes forward to release his father. Will these students be able to stop him?
LOWDOWN – I'm a huge fan of the saying “Don't get mad...get even.” For John Carpenter, Prince Of Darkness was his response and anger towards the utter disappointment at the box office failure that happened with Big Trouble In Little China. Making his second installment in his Apocalypse Trilogy (The first film being The Thing, and the last film being In The Mouth Of Madness.) Carpenter decided to go back to his roots and make the film independently and on a much lower budget using Alive Films. Wanting to do things his way and without any big studio pull, Carpenter went back to a style that worked for him.
In ending result in my eyes is one of Carpenter's best and most powerfully made films he's ever made.
Prince Of Darkness is a film I clearly remember watching on the Sci-Fi channel (long before it became the SyFy channel.) Back in the good old days, late on weekend nights they would air old school horror movies from the 70's and 80's. Prince Of Darkness was one of the movies that were always airing on a loop. Of course it's weird dreamlike storyline caught my eyes along with the breathtaking score that yet again Carpenter wrote and composed.
What I love about this movie is that it's stylized but in a good way. Just by watching it you know it's a Carpenter movie. Just in the opening credits it sets up the storyline, cutting back and forth and creating a very unsettling atmosphere. This movie is best described as being completely beautiful. I mean it's seriously breathtaking. This score is by far one of my favorites and almost every piece of dialog seems to just pop right out at you.
I love that Carpenter reused Donald Pleasence (even calling his character Father Loomis.) and Big Trouble In Little China actors Victor Wong and Dennis Dun. This movie supports a very strong cast and I really did like the love story that lingered between Jameson Parker and Lisa Bount. This didn't seem forced at all, and it was refreshing to see two older character in a horror movie share a romance. In fact I love the scene where the two of them are talking on campus and Jameson delivers the line “You talk numbers you get romantic...we talk people, well you just clam up.” Bount was simply stunning in this movie and the final sacrifice she makes still gives me chills at the end of the movie. Yeah for a while I always felt these roles could have been played by younger or stronger actors, but in time I developed a love for them and understand exactly why Carpenter made the choices he did. Bount also starred in Radioactive Dreams, one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. Sadly Bount passed away a few years ago which adds to the certain sadness and beauty that surrounds this film.
The rest of the cast do a wonderful job in supporting roles even though the Dennis Dun character gets on my nerves from time to time. In fact I've always had a good laugh over Ken Wright's character. A very attractive man who is seriously in almost every scene in the background and doesn't say more than a couple of lines. He even almost makes it to the very end of the movie. Clever in a disappointing sort of way.
The empty church building was a perfect settling and I loved how the evil spirit pretty much spits inside your mouth to make you one of it's servants. One of my favorite scenes is where the character named Lisa is typing after becoming taken over and how the guy strolls in laughing and calling her name only to see her in a strange trance type over and over again “I live! I live! I live!”. Beyond creepy. Or the guy speaking in that super creepy almost robot voice in the parking-lot with all the beetles and bugs eating him alive.
Speaking about terrifying how about Alice Cooper playing an extra as one of the many creepy homeless people standing outside the church in a strange trance? Yeah...
These elements along with the inter-cutting scenes of the shared dreams always get me. I love how it looks like it was shot on video tape with the hazy image standing in the doorway and how at the very end it reveals who it was standing there. The line repeating over and over again “This is not a dream, this is not a recording...”
This is a movie that once it gets going never seems to want to get go. The big black guy laughing and singing Amazing Grace always gets me, or the transformation the poor blond girl begins to have as her skin starts to rot and crack. I love how isolated the characters were, slowly being picked on and having to hold up in the building knowing what was waiting for them. I mean we even get a crucified pigeon! This was an extremely well written movie. It's not only intelligence, but well crafted for what it is. There are a million movies of the anti-Christ coming to Earth, but this by far is the best. Like I said, every scene, and every line is just breath taking right up until the very end.
Without giving too much away, the whole way they filmed the mirror gateway was beautiful. In fact Rue Mourner magazine did a great issue covering the making of this movie and even went into great detail of how they crafted that scene. Just the haunting shot of a certain character trapped reaching towards the darkening closing light gets me every time. I loved the tragic ending and of course the very ending shot of the movie.
I feel Carpenter's work has always reflected the times. I love how after making this masterpiece he went on and made the very awesome They Live.
Films like this are rare, and Carpenter in the 1980's in my eyes could do no wrong. This was his huge fuck-you to Hollywood, and trust it...it's pretty amazing.