Monday, October 6, 2014

1PanelReview John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness

One of the creepiest films ever made!

And a very underrated under-appreciated classic from John Carpenter!

What it is: Prince of Darkness  

Which is: An horror film
Directed by: John Carpenter
Year: 1987

John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness is a 1987 horror film he directed, wrote and scored. Following the issues he had filming Big Trouble in Little China in 1986, Carpented decided to quit making big budget films and would from now on produce his films outside Hollywood studios. He would only make smaller-scale independent films from now on (for the most part). Prince of Darkness was made on a much simpler scale and smaller budget than his previous films but still retained all of his unique vision and well thought cinematography. He also wrote the film (under the pseudonym of "Martin Quatermass"). The film mostly stars unknown actors, alongside the renowned Donald Pleasence from the Halloween series. It was originally meant to be the sequel to The Thing, but it ended up being turned into an original story instead, part of what would be commonly known as "John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy" instead. (Which is much better if you ask me, since as the story goes, this would been a film explaining why too much details and background regarding the "alien" thing from said film.)

What's Good about it: The story is absolutely fantastic! It follows a professor (Big Trouble in Little China's Victor Wong) getting several of his students to work on a "special" project. A priest found a mysterious green cylinder containing an every more mysterious creepy substance in it in an abandoned church in Los Angeles. Following a lot of analyses, and some linguists trying to decipher a two thousand year old book, they come to the far-fetched conclusions this thing is possibly containing some form of "God" entity (..or rather... "Anti-God"..). During this long weekend, some students want to leave the church, but nobody can simply exit this! The end of the world is coming! This thing might really be the "Anti-Christ" really! Some of that liquid gets out and starts infecting people. This pure "evil" thing is quickly spreading, contamining students one by one while outside possessed homeless people seem called to this church. upon matter. Meanwhile everyone who tried to take a nap has been getting a strange recurring dream (possibly a warning message from the future...?). Finally this creature, this "Prince of Darkness" is regenerated through a girl and starts opening a door into another world through a mirror as our last survivors try to put a stop to it...
The cast of unknowns can be a bit off-putting at the start, but it's a great cast that ends up working fairly well together by the end of it! The film also stars Dennis Dun (Wang from Big Trouble in Little China!).
Prince of Darkness is a very creepy film! The film is deliberately slow-paced and has such a great mood!
Carpenter was back working on smaller budgets. Meaning he had much better creative control in this film. It's a very surreal, creepy and gory film!
A lot can still be found from The Thing in it, such as people getting killed one by one and then turned over this mysterious entity possessing and wanting to spread into the outside world.
It's a very clever film, one of Carpenter's best easily, well written and intelligent.
At the time he was studying lots of physics books and scientific articles. The film tries to take a very analytical and scientific approach to this whole satanic plot. The film spends a lot of time taking this scientific approach to the whole Satan and Hell, at the time he was fascinated with science and it shows!
It's very unique and original!
It's a very Lovecraftian kind of horror. Dealing with this ancient order of priests, possibly alternate dimensions. This Anti-Christ figure can either be Satan or an alien god of some kind! The lore is mostly directly taken from H.P. Lovecraft's stories. With the whole prophetic dreams, mirrors being used as portals, to the alien artifacts turning people into mindless creatures and that very present insect imagery! It's surreal, and out of this world.
I really like how the girl, Susan - the radiologist, with the glasses? - appeared to be the most forgettable least important character of the crew, and yet she ended being the most precious person to this entity, its principal pawn. Her identity could only be summarized to her wearing those glasses, which this Prince of Darkness stripped her out of right away.
The music gives the film a captivating mood right away. The film features a fantastic score that simply makes this entire motion picture! Perfectly setting the mood. 

What's Bad about it: Such facial hair was never suited for a main character. No, really. Well, I guess you could say it was the 1980s, but it always distracted me personally...
The film was made on a very small budget (only about a fifth of what Carpenter had for The Thing). Surely you can only imagine what he would have been able to do if he would have been able to get more. Then again, that would have meant working for movie studios, and I doubt they would have financed such a satanic film... He might have wanted more, but that was expected for the route he decided to take, since he didn't want any more studios getting involved in his work....
Alice Cooper recorded a pretty kickass song for the film, the eponymous "Prince of Darkness". And in turn Carpenter used Alice Cooper as one of the main homeless "schizos". Sadly the music was barely used in the film, only used in the background for Cooper's main scene. Then again, I suppose this rockin' song would have really detracted from this whole moody creepy storyline...
Also the opening sequence seems to never end!!

Overall: One of John Carpenter's most underrated films ever.

The picture has a really creepy atmosphere though the film.

I can say this is easily one of his best and most underrated works!

Highly Recommended, granted it's pretty horrific and gory. 

Prince of Darkness would be sort of followed by the third in Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy" with In the Mouth of Madness in 1995.
I give it: 2.5 / 3!

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