6.7/10
37,778
279 user 200 critic

Prince of Darkness (1987)

R | | Horror | 23 October 1987 (USA)
Trailer
1:51 | Trailer
A group of graduate students and scientists uncover an ancient canister in an abandoned church, but when they open the container, they inadvertently unleash a strange liquid and an evil force on all humanity.

Director:

John Carpenter

Writer:

John Carpenter (as Martin Quatermass)
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Popularity
4,601 ( 117)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Pleasence ... Priest
Jameson Parker ... Brian Marsh
Victor Wong ... Prof. Howard Birack
Lisa Blount ... Catherine Danforth
Dennis Dun ... Walter
Susan Blanchard ... Kelly
Anne Marie Howard ... Susan Cabot (as Anne Howard)
Ann Yen ... Lisa
Ken Wright ... Lomax
Dirk Blocker ... Mullins
Jessie Lawrence Ferguson ... Calder
Peter Jason ... Dr. Paul Leahy
Robert Grasmere Robert Grasmere ... Frank Wyndham
Thom Bray ... Etchinson
Joanna Merlin ... Bag Lady
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Storyline

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 Derek O'Cain

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Where are you...? Christ? See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first of two films that John Carpenter made with Alive Films. The second film they made was They Live (1988). See more »

Goofs

Throughout the film, Brian Marsh's mustache is uneven. The right side is lower down on his face than the left. See more »

Quotes

Brian: [about the green liquid under the church] A life form is growing out of pre-biotic fluids. It's not winding down into disorder, it's self-organizing. It's becoming something. What? An animal? A disease? What?
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits last for nine minutes. See more »

Alternate Versions

The new UK DVD, released by Momentum, contains the full uncut version of the film and has been downgraded to a 15. The same DVD is also available in Germany from Kinowelt. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Monguito: The Argentinian E.T. (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Prince of Darkness
Written by Alice Cooper and Kane Roberts
Performed by Alice Cooper
Produced by Michael Wagener
Courtesy of MCA Records
(C) 1987 Ensign Music Corporation, Ezra Music Inc.
Screen Gems Music - EMI Music Inc.
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User Reviews

Carpenter's masterpiece
2 August 2010 | by Cujo108See all my reviews

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 coffee pot.

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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site | Peacock

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

23 October 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness See more »

Filming Locations:

Long Beach, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,657,401, 25 October 1987

Gross USA:

$14,182,492

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,182,492
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo | 4-Track Stereo (Psycho Dynamism Sound) (Japan theatrical release)| Dolby Atmos

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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