“Prince of Darkness”

“Prince of Darkness”

Donald Pleasance     

Victor Wong

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstar

 

Following up the cult classic “Big Trouble in Little China” with the continuation of what director John Carpenter deems his “Apocalypse Trilogy,” “Prince of Darkness,” arrived in theaters in 1987. It’s a film in which an intelligently set up case for the existence of the Devil as a scientific (and indeed liquid) entity is carefully supported by a series of motley specialists similar to the various guys known only by last name in Carpenter’s 1982, “The Thing,” (perhaps one of the best sci-fi horror films of all time and the first entry in this “Trilogy”). The alien in that film also had origins predating Man not to mention Christianity. It had to lay in wait for hundreds of millions of years to be uncovered by Norwegians. The eponymous “Prince of Darkness” had merely waited several million years to be discovered by a priest, a professor, a meta-physicist, a dead language specialist, a radiologist and others ranging from student interns to grown professionals as green goo in a cylinder that’s “locked from the inside” in a church that unknowingly predates the Spanish settlers who supposedly built it. The buildup is intriguingly carried out with data transmitted from the cylinder showing differential equations. Yep, boys and girls, Satan sure knows his Calculus. The area around the church is populated by silent and pale vagrants led by Alice Cooper. “Welcome 2 My Nightmare”, anyone? They silently murder with kitchen scissors and half of a bicycle two of the specialists. Can’t have sci-fi horror without horrible deaths, can we? As the readings continue to flow out of the green cylinder, so does a drip dropping of the green goo, less viscous than it looks, apparently, above to the ceiling. It is one of the various creepy sequences that brings the events to its eventual head. It’s so nice to see Victor Wong and Dennis Dun again in a Carpenter film. Dun once again proves he can be a wisecracking nice guy whom the audience would like to see live to the end although he isn’t given much to do save for to witness and report on a major event in the film’s plot. For all the buildup, however, the film resorts to cheap scares and shows of grotesque deaths rather than continue to follow the complex philosophical, religious, and scientific implications introduced in the first half to some logical conclusion. What’s missing in this film, to be honest, is Kurt Russel, Keith Richards, or James Woods e.g. An everyman or woman who cuts through the big ideas of the discovery to some practical solution. There are great scenes aided by fittingly moody music such as the introduction of Satan goo cylinder and when the liquid begins to possess people and the creepy expressions of those possessed. There are also silly scenes such as the translator’s tapping out translations without aid of dictionary or anything other than her memory of, you know, three totally different dead languages as if taking dictation who later lists things we won’t be saved by, and a dead guy giving a message from Satan which seems to amount to “bug control is key.” However astray the film goes, it at least veers toward a nicely double edged ending which reveals the meaning of the shared dream all members have had. I assume Jameson Parker was the lead character as the film mostly begins and ends with him but he has almost no impact at all as a character despite his Anchorman mustache and ripped abs and pecs, which he displays pointlessly in another campy scene to show us that yes, a leading man must work out. In all, the film has a nice set up without much of a scary payoff although a bit of an emotional one. The elegance and intelligence of earlier scenes are betrayed by an ineffectual climax. We don’t have the same love for characters as in previous Carpenter films and the “And Then There Were None” atmosphere doesn’t work as well without the Antarctic winter outside although Zombie Hobos try to creat

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