Friday, March 26, 2010
Friday Flashbacks: Prince of Darkness
Prince of Darkness 1987
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter
Starring Jameson Parker, Donald Pleasance, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, Anne Marie Howard, Ann Yen, Ken Wright, Dirk Blocker, Peter Jason and Alice Cooper
This is one of Carpenter's most underrated films and one of my personal favorites. Throughout the entire film it has a genuinely creepy tone and stays with you long after you finish watching it. It combines elements of Night of the Living Dead with Assault On Precinct 13 and it feels completely original. The way it use physics as a way of quantifying pure evil is highly original and I have yet to see duplicated in any horror film. The film has a great ensemble cast that utilizes many of the best actors that Carpenter continues to mine such as Donald Pleasance. This is a film that relies a lot on ideas and dialogue more than cheap scares and shocks, though it does utilize those to excellent effect too. This film really reminds you of a modern H.P. Lovecraft story as it is more atmospheric than blood fueled, and I think that is why the film is so powerful and works so well. The dream sequences in the film really accentuate the hyper reality of the horror that the group is facing. The way the dream sequences open and close the film and how they are totally different really makes this a thought provoking horror film.
The plot basics are this, a deep dark secret has been kept under lock and key for years in a in a abandoned church and when the priest safeguarding this secret dies it is brought to the attention of another priest (Pleasance) and he finds in the sub basement of the church a cylinder with a mysterious green liquid and the diary of the dead priest. The priest contacts Professor Howard Birack (Wong) at the local university and he brings a gorup of students to investigate and study what has been found. They soon discover through their studies is that what is in the cylinder is the essence of the Devil and this awakens the son of the Devil and he begins to possess the students one by one. Those possessed begin to infect the tohers and now it is up to the remaining survivors to stop the infection and to prevent the Devil from entering this world and causing Armageddon.
This is a atmospheric and genuinely creepy film. Carpenter's direction is downright claustrophobic and is felt throughout the film. The way the cylinder is filmed is always ominous and the scenes with the burgeoning homeless zombies is quite frightening. Carpenter makes great use of the dilapidated ruins of an abandoned church. It seems that there is dread around every corner. The script is very intelligent. This is really a thinking man's horror movie, as it combines physics with unspeakable evil. The characters are all well rounded. The characters of Brian Marsh and Catherine Danforth are the focal point of the film and you really sympathize with their dilemma. The cast is unifromly excellent. Parker as Marsh is a great protagonist and he also shows a soft side which come through well. Blount as Danforth is a great female lead and the main crux of the story. Pleasance as the priest is as always a strong performer and it is no different in this film. He steals many of the scenes he is in. Wong as the professor is quite good too and does a very credible performance, especially from someone who is better known for comedic roles. Dun is great as the partner to Marsh and has a very comedic role that offsets the terror of the film. The SFX and effects in the film are outstanding. Mark Shostrom does a great job, especially with the zombie like appearance of the infected homeless people led by the always creepy Alice Cooper. As always, the score by John Carpenter is one of the best things about the film it makes all the creepiness of the film really palatable and stays with you long after the film is over. THis is by far one of Carpenter's most creepiest and frightening films.
This one gets 5 out of 5