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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember working as an usher when this movie came out. The look on
the faces in the audience after the movie ended was priceless. Most
were either truly disturbed or confused as hell.
I thought the premise was unique. It's always been said that the existence of God can't be proven. Here we have several scientists and students trying, not only to prove that the Devil exists, but that they have him trapped in a jar in a church basement.
The movie is so full of sub-atomic theory that you would swear it was written by Michio Kaku, not John Carpenter. (Yeah, don't let the credits fool you. Carpenter wrote this film under a pseudonym)
Took my girlfriend to see this when it came out. She's now my wife and to this day, she's still a little afraid of mirrors because of this film.
John Carpenter's made some great horror films, and Prince of Darkness is my hands-down favorite Carpenter flick. First and foremost, the music does it for me every time. Sometimes Carpenter's score do miss their mark, but this time, the music is dead on perfect. Beyond this, the movie overall is wonderful. The opening title sequence (which does extend quite a bit into the film itself) does a great job of setting up the characters and the beginning of the drama at hand. Once the film picks up, it really doesn't let you go until the end, and even then, to the very last shot, the film reminds you that, for the briefest of moments, it had you. Oh, it had you. Alice Cooper makes his first theatrical film appearance with this film, but he appears briefly. Instead, the film centers mostly around Brian Marsh, a grad student brought in as part of a group of collegiate-types to investigate something dark and sinister in the basement of an old church. A lot of people I know pan his performance, but I felt Jameson (TV's "Simon & Simon") Parker's performance was solid and that look of confusion he wears throughout a bulk of the picture seems appropriate to the events unfolding around his character. Donald Pleasance's presence as a Catholic priest who begrudgingly recruits the team of college students and professors, scientists and theorists, adds a sense of credibility to the threat involved, as well as the film itself. And Victor Wong - he's just fun to watch. I love this movie.
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
John Carpenter's masterpiece about a priest enlisting the help of a
physics professor and his students in preventing the coming of the
Anti-God. Yep, I said masterpiece. I consider this to be Carpenter's
crowning achievement. Said priest (played by the impeccable Donald
Pleasance) discovers a large vat of green fluid in the basement of an
old church near downtown Los Angeles. He comes to realize that the
liquid in the container is the very essence of Satan himself, and that
a sect known as "The Brotherhood of Sleep" has kept it a secret all
these years. The secret can no longer be kept, however, as the
apocalypse is brewing and the vat of liquid Satan is the over-sized
Carpenter really struck gold with the script for Prince of Darkness. I find it to be Carpenter's most intelligent and thought-provoking. I love all of the theoretical, scientific and religious discussion in this film. He takes all of these wonderful ideas and forms them into one of the most intriguing story lines the genre has ever seen. It all makes for a very engaging viewing experience, especially if this sort of material fascinates you as much as it does me.
The film is slow-burning, yet intensely unnerving. The overall mood, the creepy street people, the church itself and the eerie occurrences caused by the Anti-God's growing power all make for an unsettling watch. Perhaps the most effective scene in the film for me is Wyndham saying hello in that garbled voice followed by "Pray for death." I also must make mention of the recurring dream projections via tachyons. A brilliant idea that adds an even deeper level to the film's frightening nature. The imagery in these dreams is truly the stuff nightmares are made of!
As far as the cast goes, this is my favorite ensemble in a Carpenter film, even more so than the one we get in The Thing. They all do fine jobs, especially Pleasance and Victor Wong. I love the interaction between these two. I also really enjoy Jameson Parker in the lead, and Dennis Dun is the rare case of comedy relief that actually works. He is amusing, likable, and his antics don't overshadow or ruin the mood that the film has built up.
The atmosphere? Perfect. So is the dread-inducing score, which is an uncanny fit for the material. In the same way that I see Prince of Darkness as Carpenter's best film, the haunting music throughout makes for his best work as a composer. I love the score as much as I love the film itself. The sense of hopeless isolation Carpenter is able to convey despite the church being in L.A. is yet another impressive accomplishment in a film that never fails to impress.
Definitely an underrated classic. Carpenter's wonderful ideas are realized to fascinating effect in the film, and for me, the execution is flawless. It's a rare case when I have nothing bad to say about a movie, but this is one of those instances. The music, the atmosphere, the apocalyptic tone, the marvelous ending... it all works beautifully. It's a gem that Carpenter has never bettered. I'm in the minority regarding that statement, but I'm sticking to it.
I agree with regular J.C. actor Kurt Russell on a point he made about the
director: If you want to make a cheap movie but make it look slick and
expensive, Mr. Carpenter is your man. Like HALLOWEEN this was made for very
little money but appears to have been made on a modest
After the box office failure of the underrated Big Trouble in Little China, Carpenter left the studio system and returned to independent and horror filmmaking. The soundtrack is constant synth, the acting average, the tension constantly increasing and widescreen lens used to perfection, all combined scream Carpenter's name from the lengthy opening credits scene. PRINCE OF DARKNESS sits among the most eerie and interesting of Carpenter's work. Defects are it isn't very exciting and divulges a lot of unnecessary quantum physics jargon that seem pompous on the writer's behalf (sorry J.C. but 'Martin Quatermass'? your devotees know you love Nigel Kneale's work!). Despite a few scenes of action, which seem thrown in to gather momentum, the film just moves along.
Basically PRINCE OF DARKNESS combines ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 with THE THING. A character driven story concerning isolated individuals and one by one falling victim/possessed to/by an alien foe. Priest, Donald Pleasence (HALLOWEEN) hires University Professor, Victor Wong (Big Trouble in Little China) to investigate an ominous cylinder. The green ooze inside this cannister, hidden for centuries by the 'Brotherhood of Sleep', is the 'anti God' who will end the world if the secrets of its origin remain unsolved.
This is the second part in Carpenter's 'apocalypse trilogy' that began with THE THING and concluded with IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. PRINCE OF DARKNESS is a must for all J.C. fans, but is the slowest of the trilogy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the guardian priest of an abandoned church in Los Angeles dies,
Father Loomis (Donald Pleasance) finds a diary and a key, opens the
door of the basement and finds a cylinder with a gruesome green fluid.
The priest contacts Professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) in the local
university and he invites a team of students to research the findings
and translate manuscripts. The group discovers that the liquid is the
essence of evil, actually Satan's remains, and has been kept locked in
the church for centuries. Their research awakes the son of the Devil
and when the student Susan Cabot (Anne Marie Howard) gets close to the
container, she drinks a jet of the green liquid, transforming in a
living dead. Susan spreads the liquid among her friends, increasing the
army of evil zombies. While the group is attacked inside the church by
the zombies, derelicts surround the church trapping them inside, and
Satan tries to bring his father to the world.
"Prince of Darkness" is one of the creepiest movies of John Carpenter. The claustrophobic tale is original, with a dark atmosphere and even twenty years later is still very impressive. The special effects and make-up are scary and the music score of his authorship is also excellent. Alice Cooper is amazing in the role of an insane homeless killer. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Príncipe das Sombras" ("Prince of Darkness")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I missed this one the first time around back in the 80s, and despite what
all the critics say, I didn't think it that bad at all.
Ok some of it's pretty silly and Jameson Parker and Lisa Blount were about as wooden as two totem poles, but the story did keep my attention without me having to reach up and change the channel. Plus, I really dug the tension filled pulsating synth soundtrack by Alan Howarth.
A group of graduate students & scientists are called upon by Father Loomis (Donald Plesance) to investigate a mysterious canister filled with green goo that is stored in the basement of an abandoned church. Right after they get there, all kinds of strange things begin to occur such as the homeless (led by a pale-faced Alice Cooper) going around, zombie-like, killing people outside the church, earthworms and ants clustering on window panes in strange patterns, and machines and equipment moving on their own.
When the team begin to translate an ancient document that was also stored in the basement, they find out that the canister contains the energy of the son of Satan who was banished to the darkside, eons ago. This supposedly occurred in ancient Middle Eastern times but how it got to L.A. is never explained.
One by one, each of the students are either killed off or possessed by the entity that is slowly growing around them. The scene where thousands of beetles eat away at the guy in the church parking lot is cool. It looks pretty funny when his hands and then his head falls off, rolling around on the ground. Hilarious.
Then one of the females has all the green fluid from the canister flow into her mouth and eyes from the ceiling in a reverse matte shot. That looks pretty cool, too. While she's lying on the cot, her stomach starts to expand and she starts to decompose as this thing is growing inside her. It seems the Prince of Darkness is going to use her as an incubator to grow his fetus.
The scene at the end with the mirror leading into an alternative universe and Satan's arm being outstretched towards the woman was fairly impressive. It sort of looked like it existed in some kind of clear, oily fluid that had the consistency of cooking oil.
All in all, I think this is a pretty entertaining John Carpenter flick to watch on a Saturday night and I consider it light years above his recent mess, GHOSTS OF MARS.
7 out of 10.
The great thing about John Carpenter's films is that almost all of them
feature a great sense of doom throughout the picture. Think about it...
HalloweeN, The Fog, Escape From New York, In The Mouth of Madness...
pure doom and gloom. And they are all accompanied by equally brooding
Prince of Darkness has all of the elements of a classic Carpenter flick. I think it's finally getting the recognition it deserves and is gaining a small cult following.
The acting for the most part is really good. There are some very memorable lines of dialog and I think the script is very well written. Again music is key here. The music helps with the feel of the movie which is very unsettling.
Also, Alice Cooper has a very small but memorable roll. His song 'Prince of Darkness' from the album 'Raise Your Fist and Yell' can be heard during an incredible suspense scene.
A must see for the Carpenter fan. In my opinion it's in his top five.
This is certainly more of an intellectual movie than the usual horror fare. Much like "The Thing" (sort of the same plot development even.) the implications of the concepts in the film are what make it deeply disturbing. I haven't completely trusted a mirror since I saw this film, I doubt I ever will again.
This is John Carpenter's most complex and underrated film.Prince of
Darkness is an eerie, atmospheric, Lucio Fulci/HP Lovecraft style piece
of Gothic horror that can hold it's own against any piece of sh*t
horror movie that comes out now days about biblical horror (People who
try now days usually come up with mindless Exocist 4:the Beginning
The story revolves around a priest and a group of scientists gather in an old church and try to solve mystery behind a vat of some green goo that just happens to be concentrated evil.Meanwhile, Alice Cooper and a whole sh*tload of homeless people stakeout outside the church and kill everyone who steps outside, and everyone inside is being turned into zombies.Donald Pleasance gives a phenomenal performance, and Victor Wong gives an equally good performance.John Carpenter's writing (under a pseudonym)is top notch this round,with a social commentary on the catholic religion that's equally as powerful as the commentary on 80s materialism in They Live.The only thing wrong with it is the real crappy make-up efx by Mark Shostram(except for the Satan b*tch,who looked pretty bad a$$).
I remember when I used to read about this movie when I was a kid and how horrible reviews were on it. Everybody made it out to be one of the worst movies ever made.Every review I read was all about how crappy the movie was.But they also said the same about The Thing, and that's considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made.Maybe Prince of Darkness is just to intellectual for the American public.But after reading the reviews for it on this website, sounds like some people just don't understand the commentary and the complexity of the story,unless they're a true hardcore fan of John Carpenter like me.It's one of my absolute favorite John Carpenter movies and I'm telling you now,don't skip this movie,it's f*cking incredible.
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