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? Written by
Screenwriter John Carpenter is credited as "Martin Quatermass". The pseudonym is a homage to Professor Bernard Quatermass, the lead character of The Quatermass Experiment (1953) and several subsequent TV series and film versions. In the original press notes he was described as 'the brother of Professor Bernard Quatermass, head of the British rocket programme.' In a further nod to Carpenter's influences, the character Wyndham is named after science-fiction author John Wyndham and Anne Howard's character is named after the star of The Wasp Woman (1959), Susan Cabot. See more »
When Susan climbed onto Lisa's bed and sprayed the liquid "evil" into Lisa's mouth, the liquid was obviously sprayed from a tube behind Susan's mouth instead of from inside it. See more »
An old priest who belonged to a cryptic sect passes away. A new priest is assigned to the church and he discovers a bizarre basement with an even more bizarre object in its center - a big vat of green moving liquid. He summons the help of some investigators and the ensuing field study reveals some very frightening revelations about the liquid - it is the essence of Satan. Then the liquid leaks out of the canister...
After a few films in the studio system, most notably "Big Trouble in Little China," which undeservedly flopped, Carpenter returned to his roots in small budgeted horror/thriller films. The result was this and it could have hardly been better. The infamous eerie music makes an especially profound effect in this film, which admittedly starts slow, but when it takes of it takes all of your nerves with it.
Unlike many horror popular films this film focuses very heavily on conversation. Atmosphere is of course put first, but the dialog is very interesting and makes for a film that is frightening on a thinking level. There are a well timed moments of violence, but it is on a intellectual level where this film scares the crap out of you. Carpenter must have done a good amount of research as the characters try to use various scientific concepts and terms to describe what they are slowly falling victim to. The dialog very heavily resembles H.P. Lovecraft's writing, who was unrelenting in providing the rational and thought-out narration of his protagonist. One can bet that it is this element that made it necessary for this film to be made independently. The shock isn't visceral, but no less effective.
The only downside are a few really goofy moments ("I said a rich doctor!"), but they are ultimately forgivable and are not as sorely out of place as you might think. 8/10
Rated R: horror violence
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