19 June 2015

John Carpenter's PRINCE OF DARKNESS

PRINCE OF DARKNESS

Alternate Title:
John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness

German Title:
Die F├╝rsten der Dunkelheit

USA, 1987
Director: John Carpenter

10/10





After his big-budget action-comedy "Big Trouble in Little China" bombed big time at the box office in 1986, Horror-God John Carpenter was forced to return to low/lower-budget filmmaking, which led him to write and direct his most underrated, most misunderstood film in his entire career: the incredible "Prince of Darkness", a highly intelligent, deeply fascinating, astoundingly made and stunningly original tale about a priest and a young research team who investigate a mysterious cylinder in an old abandoned church. The cylinder, which was protected for aeons by a mysterious sect called "The Brotherhood of Sleep", contains a swirling green gooey liquid that is actually the son of Satan!


Written under the name Martin Quatermass (a tribute to Carpenter's beloved Quatermass films) and with a budget of only about $3 million (his lowest budget since he made "The Fog" in 1980 with $1 million at hand), Carpenter not just created the 'middle piece' of his "Apocalpyse Trilogy" (which started in 1982 with "The Thing" and ended in 1995 with "In the Mouth of Madness"), he also created one of the most unique horror films of the 80s AND of his entire career. When it came out in 1987, it was rather poorly received and penned by critics. However, over the years, "Prince of Darkness" gained a massive cult following and is now one of Carpenter's most popular films among horror buffs
and hardcore JC freaks.


The super-creepy opening title sequence (which lasts for more than 9 minutes!) sets the tone for a bizarre and mind-boggling ride right into hell and back, touching on and dealing with thought-provoking theories about religious belief, the origins of Christ and Satan, the conflict between science and religion, heaven and hell, matter and anti-matter, tachyonic messages from the future, possession, telekinesis and other stuff. Other filmmakers would have struggled with such an enormous amount of heavy topics, but Carpenter was able to combine it all in such a smart way, it's baffling. Every scene, every plot point, every twist is easily understandable and fathomable. Even at the age of 11 (when I first saw it), I was able to grasp most of the movie's complex concepts.


"Prince of Darkness" possesses a gripping, intriguing and mesmerising atmosphere that lures you in and never lets go until to the very final scene which I'd call one of the creepiest and most impressive open endings in film history. There's tons of visually striking scenes and images of the goo-filled cylinder in the eerie-looking church's eerie basement. People getting possessed by the goo and turned into dangerous semi-zombies. People receiving strange messages from the future via super-uncanny dreams. People getting killed by knife, by bugs, by bike(!). There's worms crawling around on windows, one girl gets turned into what looks like Freddy Krueger's sister, mirrors become portals to hell and a priest becomes an axe-wiedling badass.


Donald Pleasance ("Halloween") gives one of his absolute greatest genre performances as the above-mentioned priest who struggles with faith and doubt, making many emotional conversations with an eager university professor, played by the wonderful Victor Wong ("Tremors"). There's more excellent performances by the gorgeous Lisa Blount ("Cut and Run"), Tom-Atkins-quasi-look-a-like Jameson Parker ("Simon & Simon"), a gruesome-looking Susan Blanchard ("Russkies"), and a super-hilarious Dennis Dun ("The Last Emperor"), delivering countless silly jokes and one-liners, like:
["All right. A Jewish mother goes to the airport to meet her daughter. The daughter steps off the plane with an eight-foot-tall Zulu warrior with a bone through his nose. The mother screams, "You fool! I said a rich doctor!"]


What makes the movie even more adorable - aside from plenty of super-great oldschool practical effects, charming make-up effects and a fun cameo by Alice Cooper - is the gloomy and outstandingly scary synth score, composed by Carpenter and his long-time collaborator Alan Howarth ("Escape from New York", "Christine", "Halloween 2-6"), as well as the beautiful cinematography by Carpenter's long-time collaborator Gary B. Kibbe ("They Live!", "In the Mouth of Madness") and the fucking perfect editing by Steve Mirkovich ("I Know What You Did Last Summer").


A real masterpiece on every level. I adore this movie and I hope that one day a mysterious voice will speak to me in my sleep, saying:
"This is not a dream... not a dream. We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation."

Wiki ~ Imdb

4 comments:

  1. Such a great. idiosyncratic movie stuck with a generic title. Since seeing it in the theater (Halloween night, 1987), I still prefer to recall it as "Satan's Blender".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Satan's Blender? LOL :D
      Dunno, I like the title "Prince of Darkness". There's something really eerie about it.

      Delete
  2. I have no idea how I totally missed this movie. Although the images and premise remind me of another I know called "The Devil's Tomb." I hope I get to see this one some day. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...and I haven't seen "The Devil's Tomb" yet, so thank you, Lexa! =)

      Delete

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