Prince of Darkness

In the Halloween spirit, I’ll be trying to review horror movies for a little while.

I wanted to start with one of my favorites – John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. Perhaps not one of the films he’s best known for (like Halloween, The Thing, Christine, Escape from New York to name a few), but this is definitely one of the scariest…

The scariest movies for me personally are the ones that seem like they could (or actually did) happen. This is one of those films. Reminiscent of The Exorcist (for some of the religious overtones) and a little bit of The Omen (with it’s ties to the dark side), Prince of Darkness falls somewhere in between to me in terms of storyline, which by the way, draws you in from the very start with a strange plot revolving around a mysterious, ancient cylinder stored in an abandoned church that a group of scientists and students comes to investigate.

One of the other things I find compelling about the film is the imagery and the way people are used throughout the film. One moment, you notice an innocent enough character, next they’re not so innocent. The way Carpenter uses the homeless people in the film is especially creepy (keep your eye out for Alice Cooper!). The film feels gritty, dark and cold when you watch it due to the visual style that’s indicative of John Carpenter’s touches throughout the film.

In terms of talent – not giant actors but talented for sure, including Donald Pleasence (who also appeared in Escape from New York), Jameson Parker (anyone remember Simon and Simon?) as well as Victor Wong (Tremors, Bloodsport, The Golden Child, etc.). All the actors do a fine job and make you feel sorry for them and what they’re going through. I know I was rooting for them.

One of the scariest parts comes towards the end when much of the mystery to the story comes to light but still leaves things a little open-ended, which is even more troublesome given the events leading up to the end.

Great film, high creep factor. See it in the dark by yourself for the full effect and then see how you feel about going to sleep.

reviewed by Sean McKnight