Prince of Darkness
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter
Cast: 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
Seen on: 22.5.2016
After the death of a priest, Father Loomis (Donald Pleasence) goes to his church and finds a weird container full of a green liquid in the basement. Nonplussed, he asks university professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) for help in analyzing whatever that liquid is. Birack packs up equipment and a group of grad students from various fields. They set up camp in the church and get to work. But it seems the liquid isn’t something that science can deal with, but evil itself.
Prince of Darkness didn’t impress me much, I have to admit. While I enjoyed the science and religion blend at first, I just thought that it all got a bit much – and I wasn’t really able to go along with a lot of it.
I really loved that the priest’s first reaction was to call in the university when he stumbles upon weird goo in the church. This easy cooperation of science and religion is rather unusual for horror movies (or in general, actually) but it should happen more often, I think. It is unfortunate then that the film doesn’t really stick to its guns in that regard and the science starts to lose its importance as the film progresses.
There was generally a lot of creativity to the plot and the mixing together of different things that are not usually part of devil-movies (in fact, Carpenter basically rewrites the Satanic mythology): telepathy, computers and algorithms, spooky liquids and more. Plus, there are oodles of very nice gore effects.
But other things are more unfortunate. Above all I was irritated by the inclusion of the homeless as Satan’s easy access henchmen. Was it really necessary to marginalize them even further that way, making them the first tangible threat? I also didn’t care much for the romance that is basically watching the fridging of a woman unfold in real time, when it’s all about how Brian (Jameson Parker) feels about it.
The film also had pacing issues and too many characters, which kept me at arm’s length from what was going on. Though it might just be that the film caught me at the wrong time, because there was a whole lot there to like, but since I am generally not that into Carpenter movies, I doubt that it would have worked better for me on another day. Maybe I’ll try again at some point though.