Prince of Darkness
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Master of horror John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) directs this terrifying battle between humankind and ultimate evil. A group of graduate students and scientists uncover an ancient canister in an abandoned church, but when they open the container, they inadvertently unleash a strange liquid and an evil force on all humanity. As the liquid turns their co-workers into zombies, the remaining members realize they have released the most unspeakable of horrors, Satan himself, thus paving the way for the return of his father - the all-powerful anti-God. Terror mounts as the last two members of the team must fight to save an innocent world from a devilish fury that has festered for over seven million years.
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PS: There are definitely 'hit' moments as well!
The plot is fairly complicated and confusing if you do not pay attention. A priest named Father Loomis (Donald Pleasance) finds a mysterious canister filled with ooze in the basement of a n old church. We find out that this ooze is actually the essence of Satan himself. Loomis brings in a team of scientists to study the canister. The ooze eventually gets loose and turns everyone into zombies one by one. While that is happening it seems like people are being possessed and tuned into zombies on the outside world as well. Soon a whole mob of zombies surrounds the church and prevents them from escaping. Satan intends to possess a body in order to free his father who is deemed Anti-God. The survivors must defeat Satan before the apocalypse happens.
The film is very imaginative and has very unique ideas especially compared to today. Today's horror films consist of remakes, sequels, torcher-porns, sequels, basic slashers, and lame found-footage films. One of the things I really like about John Carpenter is that he has many unique ideas and is not afraid to see them through. He tells the stories he wants to tell instead of making movies that focus groups want to see.
The film has a great cast. You have the late Donald Pleasance (R.I.P.), Victor Wong, Jameson Parker, and Dennis Dun. They all do great work. The film has a terrific atmosphere which is helped by a fantastic score. John Carpenter can not only write good stories, but he can also compose great scores like nobody's business. The effects are pretty good for 1987 and some scenes were pretty creepy.
Overall, Prince of Darkness is a highly underrated horror flick. It has great performances, great atmosphere, amazing score, intriguing premise, great effects, and much suspense and fun. If you have not seen it yet then go give it a look.
Between Big Trouble in little China (1986) and They Live (1988), John Carpenter released The Prince of Darkness (1987), a chilling story that asks the question is the devil a concept created by humans or is it a real, living, breathing entity?
After the death of an elderly priest, one who turns out to be a member of an ancient and once powerful sect within the Catholic Church, a key is found among his meager possessions by Father Loomis (Donald Pleasance). The key unlocks a door within a deserted church, a door that leads to an older area containing a large cylinder with a greenish, swirling liquid. Father Loomis, sensing the stirrings of the contents of the container, contacts Professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) and enlists his aide in determining the true nature of what is within the cylinder. Professor Birack gathers a group of graduate students to investigate, including Brian Marsh, played by Jameson Parker, who many may remember as A.J. Simon from the television show Simon & Simon.
As the group begins to investigate, strange things begin to happen, homeless people gathering around the derelict church, the appearance of large amount of bugs and worms where the were none, etc. Soon various members of the group fall victim to the power of what is in the cylinder, and become pawns in a desperate struggle for the very soul of humanity.
I did enjoy this film much and all the little, well thought out, elements that enhanced the story, focusing on the characters just enough to allow the audience to develop empathy for them, but not getting bogged down. There were a number of characters involved, and some could argue they were mostly fodder for the horror, but it didn't always appear such. Some aspects of the story may be lost unless particular attention is paid as the plot unravels, but I found it fairly easy to keep up, as I think most viewers would. I really enjoyed the idea of the use of advanced science to validate what couldn't be seen for so many years. Sometimes the story dragged a bit, but it felt deliberate, as if Carpenter was trying to build suspense leading up to the final confrontation. The inclusion of the 'dream' messages was quite nice, as I missed that when I first saw this movie so long ago. As always, Carpenter also managed to inject a small amount of humor to ease the tension before shocking back into the reality of the film. Some of the effects were lackluster, but that was easy for me to overlook, as I was riveted to the story and thoughts of what would happen next. I don't feel this was one of Carpenter's best, but I think it's much better than people give it credit for, and deserves a bit more recognition that it has gotten in the past.
I was happy to see such a wonderful looking print used on the film, but I thought the audio could have been cleaned up a bit. Sometimes it got a bit `soft', and I relied on subtitles to fill in the blanks. A trailer for the film is included, but that's it for special features. I would have enjoyed a commentary, but I am thankful that Universal saw fit to re-release this on DVD, as the original release has long since been out of print and much too expensive to acquire.
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