PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987) – The Dungeon Review!
I am a huge fan of John Carpenter’s films. The Thing, Halloween, Assault of Precinct 13, Escape from New York, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness, and The Fog all films I have seen multiple times and love! It is a pretty bloody impressive resume ain’t it? The man has provided such exquisite gems I almost feel guilty about how much I hate Ghosts of Mars and Village of the Damned. Prince of Darkness is the Carpenter film I have seen the least. In fact, outside of my original viewing in a theatre back in the 80s I caught Prince of Darkness just once on TV several years ago; it was high time for a revisit!
A priest requests the aid of Professor Howard Birack who brings with him a group of students to investigate a cylinder of fluorescent swirling green liquid in the basement of an abandoned church. The city’s homeless have been gathering outside the church all day. They stand and stare possessed by some unseen force from within. The text accompanying the green liquid suggests the cylinder contains the body of the Anti-Christ. Steam emitted from the green goo possesses one of the female students. Others soon join her and become the Anti-Christ’s puppets, setting in to motion his resurrection.
That is one humdinger of a plot! This cylinder looks pretty high-tech for something that is suppose to be ancient. It’s kind of creepy though all glowing and swirling like it is alive. Of course it is alive and the conniving cylinder’s first act is to possess an army of homeless people. It is such a simple thing to just have the homeless do nothing but stand staring and it is so effectively chilling! We get several scenes of the gang throughout the film. They are soldiers for Satan and they insure no one escapes from the church. One of the best deaths, I like to call “bikes kill” is enacted by the possessed populace; more specifically Alice-welcome-to-his-nightmare-Cooper. A superb bit of horror these sections! Several of the students inside the church also become possessed. Prince of Darkness offers up a bevy of beauty horror-action scenes! I think my favourite of all of them is when a trio of possessed women, one of which appears to have become spontaneously pregnant traps a character in a closet. You do not want nothing but a flimsy closet door between you and these ladies! It also has some great trippy dream sequences among a crapload of other goodies. It’s not particularly gory, but there are many perfectly executed scenes that are mucho effective just the same.
The harried priest is played by Donald Pleasance, who I always enjoy. He is all gloom and doom with his whole Satan is being resurrected and the apocalypse is coming talk! I also enjoyed Victor Wong as the level-headed, voice of reason, Professor Howard Birack. Pretty much all the performances across the board are decent enough. Which brings me to Jameson Parker. It’s not that his very existence offends me. I am not even sure I have ever seen Parker in anything but Prince of Darkness. I know he was one of the Simons in Simon and Simon, but I never actually watched the show. I just think he is so wishy-washy in this film. Maybe the character is partly to blame but he just irks me a bit, and he is focused on way too much.
Prince of Darkness has one crazy story! It’s bordering on hokey really, but hell, some religious people really believe that the apocalypse is coming! I wonder if they are aware that the discombobulated body of the Anti-Christ is swimming around in some fluorescent green goo in the basement of a church somewhere? Besides my issues with Mr. Parker I think Prince of Darkness is a fantastically fun movie with some beautifully executed moments of horror. Recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: John Carpenter
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, Anne Marie Howard, Ann Yen, Ken Wright, Dirk Blocker, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, Peter Jason, Robert Grasmere, Thom Bray, Joanna Merlin, Alice Cooper, Betty Ramey, Jessie Ferguson