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

12 Responses to “PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, GoreGirl!! I love this film. Not one of Carpenter’s better known films, and definitely one that isn’t so clear cut as to the plot and what the hell is going on, but the guy inside me who majored in philosophy back when younger really loves this film!!

    • How can anyone our age not love John Carpenter?! Carpenter has been responsible for some of horrors best moments that have NEVER and will NEVER be surpassed! He rocked my world back in the day and he still does! I had forgotten how great Prince of Darkness was! I had also forgotten about the character who ends up going through the mirror…actually took me by surprise!

  2. This is my favorite Carpenter film. I like the dream sequences and the guy who becomes made of a bunch of insects “Hello, I have a message for you, and you’re not going to like it.” Heck, I like almost everything about it!

    Having said that, I get the annoyance with Parker as a main character. I wonder if Parker is used by the director to sort of stand in for himself as the protagonist, like a physically ideal version of himself, the way David Lynch often uses Kyle MacLachlan. Because I think this film was a pretty personal undertaking for Carpenter, from what I have read, and a disappointment when it didn’t do well, so it makes sense that he might have mentally inserted himself into the film. Lisa Blount is pretty important (understatement), and he should have focused more on her, but it seems like we get emphasis on her only as she relates to Parker.

    • I have no reasonable explanation for why this is only my third viewing of Prince of Darkness! What a great film with some truly beauty horror moments! I had completely forgotten about Lisa Blount’s ending…it took me by surprise! I feel a little silly ragging on Jameson Parker but it is the one sticking point for me about this one. Parker does resemble Carpenter…interesting.

  3. Now I wanna see this movie again! I loved this one of his…I never looked at mirrors the same again… ( also the Horror /Comedy with WIlliam Katt in “The House” did it for me as well for the mirrors thing as well ever review that one? ) … thanks for the great memories and review GG

  4. I need to revisit this film as well. I enjoyed the heck out of Prince of Darkness when I saw it on the big screen,but haven’t seen it since. Carpenter is one of my favorite directors,and I too wish I wasn’t so disappointed in much of his post 1980’s work. But here he is still in fine form,and I love the fact Anne Marie Howard’s character is named Susan Cabot after the late,great actress.

    • Did not catch that-I actually reviewed Wasp Woman sometime within the last yearish. Prince of Darkness is quite a gem!

  5. Excellent film, the message from the future in their dreams freaked me out. Definitely one of my Carpenter faves!

  6. This one is pretty chilling, especially that ending. Was Alice Cooper really in this?

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