Horror Movie Review: Prince of Darkness (1987)

Prince of Darkness is a supernatural horror film that was directed, written and scored by John Carpenter. It’s the second instalment in what Carpenter calls his “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which began with The Thing (1982) and concludes with In the Mouth of Madness (1994).

A priest invites quantum physicist Professor Howard Birack and his students to join him in the basement of a monastery. The priest requires their assistance in investigating a mysterious cylinder containing a swirling green liquid. They decipher text found next to the cylinder which describes the liquid as the corporeal embodiment of Satan. The liquid appears sentient, and broadcasts increasingly complex streams of data.

Over a period of two days, small jets of liquid escape from the cylinder. Members of the group exposed to the liquid become possessed by the entity and attack the others. Anyone attempting to leave is killed by the growing mass of enthralled schizophrenic homeless people who surround the building.

Birack and the priest theorize that Satan is actually the offspring of an even more powerful force of evil, the “Anti-God”. The survivors find themselves sharing a recurring dream showing a shadowy figure emerging from the front of the church.

Can they prevent this possible outcome? Check out Prince of Darkness to find out.

Prince of Darkness is suspenseful and atmospheric throughout. This is in part due to the excellent score which was crafted by Carpenter himself. I have seen a lot of possession horror movies, I’m pretty tired of them to be honest. This is because everything that can be done with the concept has been done, we’ve seen it all. However, Prince of darkness came out at a time when it was able to deliver something different and quite original.

The effects are minimal but when Prince of Darkness really gets going, it delivers. The gore that it does display is excellent and very effective. Also, the motionless homeless people it presents is an interesting and creepy element.  Alice Cooper leading them is amusing, especially when he uses his infamous bicycle impalement trick to murder someone. However, I’m not sure I agree on the commentary about homelessness within the film. It literally compares them to insects.

Prince of Darkness takes itself very seriously. It has Donald Pleasance as part of the cast so that’s to be expected. It does attempt some moments of humour but they fall painfully flat. The performances throughout are really good. Unfortunately, the characters themselves feel noticeably underdeveloped. You’re introduced to a lot of different people but learn little to nothing about them.. This makes it difficult to care when they start getting killed. Still, in a way they do feel like real people and more importantly scientists. The ways in which they discuss and approach certain scenarios felt realistic.

Lastly, the film does drag in places. There are long scenes with characters talking and a little too much technical mumbo-jumbo.

Overall, Price of Darkness is a solid horror film. It may not reach the heights of classic movies like The Thing but it’s worthy to stand alongside it.




Prince of Darkess
  • 7/10
    The Final Score - 7/10
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