Prince of Darkness

Previously on Shea of the Dead I posted my experiences from seeing "The Fog" with a quick top 5 Carpenter movies tagged at the bottom. As desired many of you posted your favorites and I couldn't help but notice that Prince of Darkness was highly ranked. Understand that I had no choice but to launch this film to the top of my queue and quickly form an opinion. What follows is that opinion.

The movie starts off quickly sucking me in. A priest laying on his death bed clutches a small box. As J.C.'s signature styled score carries us through the credits the man's spirit ascends, his fingers slip and his arms flop to the mattress.

We fade in and out through the credits while being introduced and telegraphed to what characters will live till the end (if a character isn't developed they serve the soul purpose of dying for the sake of excitement). A scraggly old Chinese professor, a misfit squad of grad students, and a nervous white collared Father Loomis create our beating heart for the story.
A great beginning slows to a limp as bad audio, eclipsing suns, and angry insects progress. Father Loomis discovers that the dead priest's box holds a key leading to the basement of an abandoned church. We learn that a secret sect of the church has been imprisoning the ultimate of darkness in an ancient tube of swirling Ninja Turtle ooze. Within the journal of the dead priest is the last line of, "I have witnessed the stirrings".

The father embarrassed by the church's secrets requests that our grad student heroes prove the existence of this evil scientifically so the world will not longer be blinded by their lack of faith.

As the students conduct their experiments they find results of supernatural proportions. Slowly but surely the evil begins taking over one wandering Ph.D at a lonely time. The sun and the moon align, the bums(Alice Cooper) turn evil, and the worms grow restless.

Expectantly we trim down to the developed characters who have by now found themselves barricaded within the rooms of the church as the evil green goo's zombie infected servants perform his tasks of resurrection.

At this point the movie begins amping back up. Any time you take people and trap them within a situation I get excited. Now the young scientists perform desperate acts of heroism battling the Prince of Darkness and his minions through the rooms and halls of the church.
The climatic end was surprisingly cool and unexpected. Even after the dust has settled and the credits are a mere frame away our thickly mustached hero wakes from his nightmare and walks to his mirror...Carpenter ends the movie perfectly with an out stretched hand.

To list a couple Carpenter cool effects... A man turns into a pile of beetles, a pretty crazy stabbing scene, and perhaps one of the sweetest limb regrowths and head placings ever.

There were three specific scare moments I want to mention. When Susan, (you know? The one with the glasses) climbs onto the bed of the Asian looking Indian. Another was when the homeless lady thanks Father Loomis for reopening the church. Anytime a female voice goes demonic deep I clock out and report in for a raised heart rate. And the last would be when Walter shines his flashlight on the seemingly comatose "Chosen One's" face and she turns, looks, and SMILES!

Overall the movie was cool and a respectable applause for the Carpenter Apocalypse trilogy. I still feel it wasn't one of the director's top 5. A valiant and note worthy effort but far from the best. I stick it right there with The Mouth of Madness and right above The Fog. The film stinks of the directors style and that's why you still can't help but like it. As far as it being one of the greats? It doesn't hold a candle to The Thing, Escape From New York, or even Big Trouble.

I will admit that I think this was my favorite Carpenter score. Maybe not his most iconic but I definitely loved the haunting opera married to the electronic thumb and bumps.

A great beginning and ending with some sweet tunes in between but everything else we like just for the Carpenter at work.

Reviewed by: shea