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Prince of Darkness (Arrow Recommends)

Prince of Darkness (Arrow Recommends)
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Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site.

PLOT: A Priest (Donald Pleasence), his physicist buddy (Victor Wong) and a handful of science students go to an old church to study an odd cylinder containing a green liquid that’s in constant motion. Big f*cking mistake. That liquid is Satan and he wants out!

LOWDOWN: After the Box Office failure of John Carpenter’s Studio effort Big Trouble in Little China (which of course became a Cult Classic - now The Rock wants to do a reboot/sequel with him playing Jack Burton…yeah don’t), The Master of Horror went back to his roots and hopped back on the lower budget train via a two-picture deal with Alive Films. Some say it was by choice, others say the big boys wouldn’t hire him after Big Trouble tanked. Who knows - who gives a shit. Bottom line is: we got two enduring genre classics out of it; the first was PRINCE OF DARKNESS (GET THE SCREAM FACTORY DELUXE BLU-RAY HERE) and the second was THEY LIVE. Right now, am talking PRINCE so lets cha-cha with Old Scratch!

Over the years PRINCE OF DARKNESS (part of Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy” as he calls it with The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness) has become one of my go-to horror films when I’m craving, atmospheric, theological charged and somber shenanigans. Everything about it grabs me by the crotch and nut-cracks! From the gripping set-up inter-cut with the opening credits (that sinister and addictive score backing up the action carried so much impact – more on that later), to the flick masterfully establishing its characters and stage for the sordid chain of events to come, PRINCE OF DARKNESS is the kind of film that owns you at frame 1 and doesn’t let you go till the bitter end. It also surely helped matters that the whole was soaked in a morbid and dread filled vibe that made feel uneasy throughout.

The mix of religious, scientific and occult themes greased me right as well. Yeah some of the dialogue was heavy on the mumbo jumbo (subatomic particles, anti particles, anti-God... the f*ck) but over the years I’ve managed to decipher more and more as to WTF everybody was talking about, hence lending further layers to the proceedings. Now, it’s no secret that John Carpenter is a huge fan of the 1959 Western film Rio Bravo starring John Wayne. He borrowed from it when he made Assault on Precinct 13 and he continued to use the base structure of it (good guys trapped inside - bad guys outside wanting their hides) in The Fog, Ghost of Mars and of course this one. NOTE: he did the opposite with The Thing. Good guys trapped inside with a villain trapped inside with them. In Prince, the tactic worked mucho well once again, with a horde of homeless people (with a key one being played by horror rocker Alice Cooper) being drawn to the church by the EVILLLL (in Loomis drawl) force within it. And they’re not going there to beg for chump change – they got KILL on the fritz.  

Casting wise; Carpenter went back to two thespians he knows. Horror icon Donald Pleasance (as a nutty priest aka Loomis with a collar) and the always affable Victor Wong who starred in Big Trouble in Little China. In terms of the new blood, the ones that stood out the most for me were Simon & Simon’s Jameson Parker (who’s epic stache did half of the acting), the lovely and talented Lisa Blount and brilliant character actor Peter Jason. In terms of the latter, Carpenter must have gotten along with the dude because he also went on to star in Carpenter's They Live, In the Mouth of Madness, Village of the Damned, Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars. Kind of reminds me of the thing Dick Miller and Joe Dante had.

Add to all that horror loving a KILLER score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth (am listening to it right now as I type this drivel) that was 50% responsible for the chill factor of the piece, some brutal kills (all about that bicycle impaling…lol…you don’t see that everyday), nasty practical effects work that oh so delivered, some far out ideas (Jesus was an alien… why not), a riveting mystery (the dream message) that had me salivating and a beautifully ambiguous ending that never failed to give me shivers and you get a well rounded horror film that only recently started to get the respect it deserves. Bout f*cking time!

Any drawbacks? Well taking into the account the WILD premise, the flick could have gone much further than the infection/Zombie-esque path it took. But I get it, budget limitations and all – thankfully what I got still hit the H Spot. And granted some of the acting wasn't always 100% but nothing that took me out of the movie to be honest. Finally a couple of dumb character moves to serve the plot were in the house (investigating alone type spiel) but what you gonna do... right?

Overall PRINCE OF DARKNESS was a creepy, somewhat thought-provoking and furiously paced horror gem. Am not surprised that there's talk of adapting it as a TV series. The compelling material is there and it begs to be expanded upon. I'll watch it! Anybody wanting to do a one-location low budget horror film should take a gander at this baby to get some pointers. So am I alone over here? Who else is a fan of this bad boy? Projectile vomit your thoughts below!

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