Sunday, November 23, 2008

Film Review: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987, John Carpenter)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 102 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Donald Pleasence (playing Father Loomis here- perhaps a relation of his HALLOWEEN character?), Victor Wong and Dennis Dun (both BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA alumni), Jameson Parker, Alice Cooper, Peter Jason, Alan Howarth, Larry J. Franco.
Tag-line: "Before man walked the slept for centuries. It is evil. It is real. It is awakening."
Best one-liner(s): "Hello... Hello... I've got a message for you... and you're not going to like it." [body splits open to reveal insects]

John Carpenter takes the ball from the Twilight Zone episode "The Howling Man," and runs with it. And, boy, does he run with it. A lot of people have problems with this one: "It's too wordy, too scientific, too slow a build, etc." If that's gonna be a problem, then get the hell out of here right now. Carpenter masters the slow build on this one; he puts the screws on the audience classic-Hollywood style. We've got Satan in a jar of green goo. We've got Donald Pleasence and a host of Carpenter regulars. We've got ALICE COOPER as the king of the homeless people (and using some of his PERSONAL gore props from his stage shows).

We've got Jameson Parker of "Simon and Simon" sporting the most intense moustache in Carpenter's entire filmography.

We've got maggots, zombies, other dimensions, graduate students, and Peter Jason playing the mouth trumpet. And if there's one thing Carpenter KNOWS how to nail, it's an ending. From DARK STAR to THE THING, he's delivered denouements that bring appropriate closure, abruptness, and unease. And Carpy gives us one hell of an existential doozy at the end of this one. I will say no more about it. Here's five green-goo-dipped stars. Keep 'em in that ancient vial, and please keep any graduate students from nosing around.

Also of note: I think it's the only movie trailer I've ever seen where the title of the film itself emerges unexpectedly as a 'scare.'

-Sean Gill


Tempest said...

I saw this on home video years ago. It definitely is a unique approach to horror. I should watch it again.

Tempest said...

I just learned today that Lisa Blount died. This was the first time I saw her. I saw her next in Great Balls of Fire and then on the short-lived Adrian Pasar tv drama Profit. I did not know what she had been up to and did not know she had become a producer. She looks great in this photo:

Sean Gill said...

Sad news. I did not realize she was an Oscar-winner/producer, either. I certainly enjoyed her in PRINCE OF DARKNESS, and other genre classics like DEAD & BURIED and BLIND FURY.