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Prince of Darkness (1987)

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A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world.


John Carpenter


John Carpenter (as Martin Quatermass)
2,626 ( 251)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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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 Susan Blanchard ... Kelly
Anne Marie Howard ... Susan Cabot (as Anne Howard)
Ann Yen Ann Yen ... Lisa
Ken Wright Ken Wright ... Lomax
Dirk Blocker ... Mullins
Jessie Lawrence Ferguson Jessie Lawrence Ferguson ... Calder
Peter Jason ... Dr. Paul Leahy
Robert Grasmere Robert Grasmere ... Frank Wyndham
Thom Bray ... Etchinson
Joanna Merlin ... Bag Lady


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


Before man walked the earth...it slept for centuries. It is evil. It is real. It is awakening. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





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 »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,657,401, 25 October 1987, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The parts played by Donald Pleasence, Victor Wong and Dennis Dun were written specifically for them by John Carpenter due to his enjoyable prior collaborations with them. See more »


(at around 12 mins) In the beginning of the movie the Priest tells Dr. Birack that the Catholic Church containing the demonic fluid, located in Los Angeles, was built in the 1500s by Spanish missionaries. The Spanish did not colonize California with missions until 1769, with the founding of San Diego by the explorer-missionary Fray Junipero Serra. The mission where filming took place, Mission San Fernando Rey de España, was not founded until 1797. See more »


Words on computer screen: You will not be saved by the holy ghost. You will not be saved by the god Plutonium. In fact, YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits last for nine minutes. See more »


Opening Titles
Written and Performed by John Carpenter
Produced by Alan Howarth
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User Reviews

An Excellent,Scary,Atmospheric Underrated Horror Film. Carpenter At His Best.
3 June 2013 | by jcbutthead86See all my reviews

Prince Of Darkness is a scary,effective Horror film and is truly underrated. Filled with great direction,a wonderful cast,a creepy score and great special effects,Prince Of Darkness is John Carpenter at his best.

Prince Of Darkness tells the of priest Father Loomis(Donald Pleasence)who has discovered a secret that has been hidden in a church for many years:a green container that is holding a green liquid that represents the Father of Satan,an Anti-God that is pure evil. Now with the help of Physics teacher Professor Howard Birack(Victor Wong),his students and others Father Loomis has to stop the Anti-God or it will be doom for the world.

Prince Of Darkness is a great solid Underrated Horror film that not only marked the return of John Carpenter to the Horror genre but to his low budget roots as well. After the unfortunate box office failure of the excellent and brilliant classic the big budgeted Action Comedy Martial Arts Kung Fu film Big Trouble In Little China,Carpenter return to low budget films with two films the first film being Prince Of Darkness and the other film the Sci-Fi/Action classic They Live. Prince Of Darkess is the second film in Carpenter's great Apocalypse Trilogy beginning with The Thing and ending with In The Mouth Of Madness and right from the opening credits Prince Of Darkness pulls you into a horrifying nightmare that gives you a sense of dread and such impending doom a scary movie that scares you with the feel of fright and death all around. Carpenter with the ominous opening is telling us that nothing is going to be alright. POD at times feels like you are watching a dream(in fact there are several dream sequences in the film)where things are distorted and confusing and you're not sure of what is going on. What I also love about POD is the style and tone of the film because I look at the film POD has the style of an Italian Horror film mostly like the films of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci because like Italian Horror films POD has frightening and disturbing imagines that will put viewers on edge because you don't know what they are or what they're about. The tension and suspense in the film is like a tightrope and as the film goes on the tension and suspense starts to become scarier and more frightening. Carpenter is a master of claustrophobia and isolation whether it is The Thing,Halloween or Assault On Precinct 13 and POD is no exception and is truly filled with claustrophobia and isolation where the film's main characters are trapped on the inside and want to get out but are surrounded by evil. In many ways Carpenter has used the same story as Assault On Precinct 13 but instead of a police station and gangs it's a church and possess homeless people. With POD Carpenter asks a thought-provoking question what if a demon not just the Devil himself but an Anti-God,not God the creator of Heaven and Earth,but an evil God were to come into our world and brought evil onto our world with darkness and evil. Carpenter asks these questions with the characters mixing subjects of Religion,Science and physics. But pure evil can never ever be truly explained by anyone no matter what not by Religion,Science or Physics. POD also addresses the issues and conflicts between Science and Religion represented by the characters Father Loomis and Professor Birack but the issue in POD is handled really well and done with amazing intelligence,great writing and imagination. The pace of the film will bother some people where some people will think the film is slow but I love the pace of POD because like many Horror films of the 70s and 80s POD builds up the film with tension and atmosphere and when the Horror starts it never stops. The films main characters in the film are not always likable but at the same time they are not like slasher victims waiting to get killed off and you feel sorrow and sympathy for them when things go bad. The violence and gore is simple but effective and disturbing and fits in with the grim tone of this film. The ending of the film is classic Carpenter. It's a truly scary and shocking conclusion that's very bleak and like many Carpenter endings it ends on a cliffhanger. A great ending.

The cast does great jobs in their roles. Donald Pleasence is brilliant as Father Loomis,with Pleasence bring depth and sympathy to the role. Jameson Parker is great as Brian Marsh,one of Birack's students. Victor Wong is fantastic as Professor. Howard Birack and has great scenes with Pleasence. Lisa Blount is excellent and sexy as Catherine,Brian's love interest. Dennis Dun is wonderful as Walter,with Dun bringing Humor to the film. Alice Cooper is creepy in a non speaking role as Street Schizo. Susan Blanchard(Lisa)Peter Jason(Dr. Paul Leahy),Jesse Lawrence Ferguson(Caulder),Dirk Blocker(Mullins),Ann Yen(Lisa)and Anne Howard(Susan)give good performances as well.

The direction by John Carpenter is brilliant,with Carpenter always moving the camera while using great angles and giving the film a dark and creepy atmosphere. Great direction by Carpenter.

The score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth is amazing,scary,intense and dark and fits the frightening tone of the film. There is also the great song Prince Of Darkness heard briefly in the film by Alice Cooper.

The special effects make-up by Frank Carrisosa is great,realistic and disturbing. Wonderful make-up effects by Carrisosa.

In final word,if you love John Carpenter or Horror films,you will love Prince Of Darkness,a scary and frightening Horror that is very underrated and is Carpenter at his best. Highly Recommended. 10/10.

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