Monday, July 7, 2014

John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness (1987)

I always love seeing Donald Pleasance so I was glad to see him playing a priest in John Carpenter’s “The Prince of Darkness”. This movie takes the idea of the devil coming back to earth and throws a bunch of wrenches into that narrative.

Father Donald Pleasance discovers a key on a priest who died in his sleep and that key opens a door in a condemned religious school, which leads to a catacomb which houses a strange manuscript and an even stranger very sealed tank with some glowing green liquidy matter swirling around it. He enlists the help of a renowned university professor of quantum physics and some of his select students and some other students from other fields to prove that evil is real, that the son of the devil is actually this weird glowing matter and not some abstract theological concept.

It’s easy to see how this movie was the unsung influence on future movies. While “The DaVinci Code “obviously plagiarized the 1980 book “Holy Blood Holy Grail”, “Angels and Demons” with it’s plot of the Vatican hiding a vial of antimatter, which if unleashed on the world would destroy it, is clearly borrowing from this movie. Even the whole ancient alien theory gets lip service in this movie, once the contents of the manuscript are translated and we learn that both Jesus and the devil were actually aliens from beyond. As the green goo starts throbbing and exhibiting “consciousness” the participants start having a shared dream, with distorted alien voices and weird black figures telling them “this transmission is being broadcast as a dream”

An interesting cameo is Alice Cooper being a really pale hobo who, along with the other hobos, seem to be drawn/influenced by the devil thing. Towards the end there is some decent gore, nothing too over the top. All in all, it’s an interesting film. Not Carpenter’s best, but definitely not his worst.

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