Friday, September 6, 2013

Prince of Darkness

directed by John Carpenter
starring Donald Pleasance, Jameson Parker, and Victor Wong
Universal Studios, October 23, 1987, 102 minutes
Rated R

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

Up front I want to say that I am a big fan of John Carpenter’s films. If nothing else, they are refreshingly original and usually they are quite the visual treat. Also, his films are such a product of their time. They are like wonderful little time capsules from history with no effort made at timelessness. I love it.

I can’t say that it is Carpenter’s best. It’s certainly not The Thing. However, as an idea this film works in spades for me. You really have to give it up to a film whose central conceit is a complete retconning of the whole the history of Christianity. Also, you have to respect a religious film that deals with demonic possession and eschews the standard tropes of such a film in favor of quantum mechanics, theoretical physics, atomic theory, differential equations, advanced calculus and tachyon particles.

Honestly, there is nothing terribly “shocking” or “horrific” about this film, and as far as horror goes … it’s a little mundane. Subdued even. Even the actors are largely forgettable, aside from Donald Pleasance who chews his way through the scenery of this film and Victor Wong who will always be Egg Shen, I can’t see him in any other role. Even Alice Cooper’s cameo is not really worth mentioning and it is entirely gimmicky. He was cast in order to use his stage show’s special effect wherein he impales someone with a bicycle … and it’s not even that good of a special effect.

I really don’t have much else to say about this film as there’s not much to this film. Is it worth it … that depends. If, like me, you are bored of religious horror movies wherein the conflict is oversimplified and the outcome is predetermined (Jesus Good Devil Bad (I’m looking at you Devil) … then definitely give Prince of Darkness a chance. Sixteen years ago it certainly put a new twist on the religious horror film and bucked the genre’s conventions and it is always worth seeing the film that does that for the first time. Also it’s a John Carpenter film, I mean … c’mon! John. Carpenter.

Official trailer

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