“I have a message for you and you’re not going to like it.”
The message is that Satan is alive and living in a big container of green slime located in the basement of a rundown church. Donald Pleasence gets together a posse of eggheads to figure out what’s up with THAT. Some broad translates some old book and finds out that (are you ready for this) Satan was an ALIEN (or something).
While all this is going on, an army of zombie-fied homeless people are massing outside of the church and turning anyone foolish enough to leave into dead meat. Before you know it, one of the science dames gets too close to the vat of Alien Satan Juice and it does a Ron Jeremy money shot right in her mouth. Because this is Alien Satan Juice we’re talking about here, it turns her into a zombie Satan groupie. She then starts puking Satan splooge into other people’s mouths and creates even more of Satan’s servants. And together, they try to bring about the return of “The Father”.
John Carpenter is my favorite director of all time. Because of that, even his lesser works are sorta fascinating to me. Prince of Darkness isn’t a classic, but it’s an interesting companion piece to The Thing in that it follows a group of isolated people being overtaken by an alien entity.
I saw this when it first came out in theaters when I was just nine. Being a young whippersnapper, I didn’t really “get it” and thought it was sorta dull, but the ending was cool. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate the way Carpenter establishes the mood in the film’s early scenes. I still wish he got to the point a little quicker, yet this is still a solid flick.
After a slow start, Prince of Darkness picks up a lot of steam as it goes along. And the final forty minutes are fucking sweet. It’s not perfect, but then again any movie that has quantum physicists for heroes, a major plot point involving the transmission of video images through time and space into people’s dreams, and giant jars of Liquid Satan HAD to be uneven.
And since Prince of Darkness is uneven, some of Carpenter’s symbolism is pretty muddled. Like what’s up with all the homeless people killing everyone? Is Carpenter trying to make a statement about class warfare? I’m not sure what he’s trying to say with that, but at least he’s trying to say SOMETHING. But because this is a John Carpenter movie, you know the music is going to be great and the camerawork will be excellent.
The cast is likewise great. Donald Pleasence does a fine job playing his role as sort of a more somber version of Dr. Loomis (he's even named Father Loomis), Dennis (Big Trouble in Little China) Dun is hilarious as the wisecracking scientist, and rocker Alice Cooper is effective as the head honcho homeless man. But it’s Lisa Blount who gives the best performance of the movie. She gives more life to her character who is essentially “The Chick” in the group and her final scene is memorable.
Carpenter’s next was the immortal They Live.