Friday, February 14, 2014

Rare Flix: John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness

Hurray- it wasn't disappointing!  Today's film is Prince of Darkness, a very underrated and forgotten John Carpenter film.  On the surface, it is certainly a weird sell.  Two words: Liquid Evil.  Yeah, that's not weird.  If you can get past that and see the actual film for what it is, it is quite interesting.  The film was made at the tail end of Carpenter's best and worst period.  How is it both?  Essentially, he was making some of his best films- The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, and this film- but also his less successful films.  It is sad that they didn't turn out to be bigger hits.  At least Tobe Hooper's Canon Trilogy- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Invaders From Mars, Lifeforce- were of a mixed quality (while all being underwhelming in terms of box-office success.  Yea?  Anyhow, this film is about the discovery of a weird substance that may challenge the whole idea of religion and how we look at it.  Naturally, the Church teams up with a College Professor and his students to figure it out.  I guess when they build a whole city out of gold and marble, the Catholic Church is low on funds.  Ha- you were expecting a reference to how they shipped child-molesting Priests around and legally-changed their names, weren't you?  I'd never stoop to that level, no sir!  If you want to see the one GOOD film with Alice Cooper in it, read on...
An ancient secret is revealed and sent to be studied by a Priest (Donald Pleasence).  Who can he turns to?
How about an Atheist Science Professor?  If you ever wanted to see Cardinal Law and Bill Nighy team up, probably the closest you're going to get.
The duo work together to decipher the mysterious substance found.  The Professor volunteers his top Students, promising them all Degrees.  Most of them will not live to do much with the paper...

You may also notice that Carpenter is using repeat Actors like Pleasence and Victor Wong.  He apparently wrote the parts for them.  Neat.
The group gathers at an old, abandoned Church to study a giant vial of fluid that is allegedly thousands of years old.  Unfortunately, they have guests.

Freaky, bug-infested homeless guests that seems to be drawn to the building.
While working down by the substance, one of the Students is struck by some evil power and is now a vessel.

You see, the giant vial of fluid is apparently the physical embodiment of evil itself.  It is not a feeling in the back of your mind- it is real!
Due to their proximity to the liquid evil, everyone is having the same shared dream- which is actually a vision.
The hand-held nature of the footage is an interesting precursor to the Found Footage boom that would come about ten years later.
My favorite touch involves the most religious person in the group.  He gets killed and then possessed, but clearly fights the urges.  He does a DAMN good job at conveying this and nearly steals all of his post-death scenes.
One of the group is chosen as the vessel to bring about the end of the world.  They mix a bit of Science and Theology here, which is either really clever or really silly.

As you can see, she's taking it all well.
Will she bring about the end of the world?  Will evil be stopped?  Will someone edit this whole thing for television to make it seem like one big dream sequence?

To find out, watch the movie.  Trust me.  The End.
Evil is all sorts of good!  Prince of Darkness is a film that true Horror fans need to see at least.  Have you seen it?  Good.  Have you not?  Well, do it right now!  Are you still not convinced?  Well, the film is well-written, well-acted and just all around atmospheric.  They quickly get people into a relatively-confined space and slowly ratchet up the tension.  At first, you're safe as long as you stay inside.  If you go out, you'll get stabbed Giallo-style by possessed homeless people (and Alice Cooper).  As the film progresses, evil escapes from within and safe places get more and more scarce.  You want another reason to love this movie?  Well, a very recent film series has been inspired by it.  Consider this: a woman gets possessed, acts emotionless and kills people by snapping their necks from behind.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, it's Katie from Paranormal Activity.  So, in summary, see this movie already.  If nothing else, you get to see this dude's hilarious (and awesome) mustache...
Next up, I celebrate Valentine's Day with a love triangle.  Oh and two of the people have pyrokinesis.  Stay tuned...


  1. I've seen it a handful of times and it somehow manages to scare me MORE each time I watch it. Carpenter at his best, in my opinion.

  2. Ah! Thanks for reminding me of doing a proper POD review, as well as reviewing all the other flicks by Carpenter. Believe it ot not, I consider POD as one of the greatest horror films ever made