John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness




Have you ever been watching a film, any film, not just a horror film and thought to yourself : "this is good but it could use more theoretical math?" If so then do I have a film for you! Licking his wounds after the big budget studio failure of Big Trouble In Little China (Yes, the film is a fun little cult hit now. Don't preach to the quire. But it DID fail at the box office.) horror legend John Carpenter vowed to get back to his shoestring budget, indy roots. Exercising his new found freedom, Carpenter it seems tries to stuff every idea he's ever had shot down by a studio into one film. Higher math, alien Jesus, Hi-C Ecto Cooler devils, mouth orgasms and Alice Cooper all manage get some play in Carpenters ode to freedom. That's all well and good but is it a good film? Let's take a gander. Shall we?

Brain Marsh (Jameson Parker - the not Major Dad half of Simon & Simon) is a grad student with a hell of a mustache. He meets and beds fellow grad student Catherine (Lisa Blount) after one cup of coffee, setting feminism back at least 30 years. Their teacher (Victor Wong) and the local Catholic Priest (Donald Fuckin' Pleasance) decide that the groups next research project will be setting up camp in an old abandoned church. This church just happens to hold remains of the devils child in the form of a capped pitcher of Hi-C Ecto Cooler...and the Ecto Cooler is getting agitated.

Joined by a group of terribly unlikeable grad students, (especially the Asian kid. Jesus, he couldn't die fast enough, and wouldn't you know it - he lasts almost until the end) Brian and Catherine, move into the church just in time for some fucked up to shit start to happen. The Ecto Cooler child posses a couple of chicks who start trying to hunt down and convert the others to the child's cause - by squirting in their mouths. No. Not that way you perverts. They squirt from their mouth to the other persons mouth, which is extremely disgusting but not at all as hot as the the other kind of, well you know...squirting.

One of the non Brian and Catherine grad students ends up with a bruise on her arm that looks very suspiciously like the mark of the devil. No one really pays too much attention - because - hey look it's Alice Cooper! What was I writing about? Oh well. Marked girls belly starts to swell. Her skin starts to corrode. The Asian dude hides in the closet begging the folks on the other side of the wall (Brian, Catherine and the teacher) to break through the wall and help him. Of course he'd rather give demon play by play than dig himself out. Donald Pleasence hides behind the boiler for the last 45 minutes of the film reciting bible verses under his breath.

The Devils Ecto-Child eventually fully possesses bruise girl. Her and her minions set about trying to pull the lord of darkness though any mirror they can find - including the mirror on a makeup compact. Eventually finding a mirror befitting a deity birth, bruise girl grabs a hold of her father pulling him into the present. Catherine makes the ultimate sacrifice driving the devil, bruise girl, and herself through the mirror into the land under the sea apparently. The ever resourceful Donald Pleasence hurls an axe at the mirror, shattering it and robbing Brian and his mustache some much earned post demon slaying pussy.

The above is an overly simplified version of a 101 minute bat shit crazy-fest. Not covered above but also in the film: The revelation that Jesus was an alien. That the Devil and God communicate though your dreams by prefacing the message with the line "This is not a dream...." There are homeless people waiting outside the church to kill anyone who leaves - when convenient of course. And higher math...lot's of higher math.

Now, it may sound like I hated the film. That's not exactly true. It does feel like Carpenter was just throwing all sorts of shit at the wall hoping something would stick. Most of it didn't, but then again some of it did. The effects, outside of the Ecto Cooler, were pretty damn good - especially when the bruise girl starts transforming. Carpenters synth score sounds ridiculous now, but I'm sure was cool as hell back n the day. Donald Pleasence when given something to do other than hide behind a boiler is very good. So is Parkers mustache.

Prince Of Darkness feels like a Carpenter film by way of Demons and David Cronenberg. It's sort of gothic, sort of gross, and very 80's. Carpenter tries a lot of stuff here and like I said some of it works, some of it doesn't. But I would rather watch something like this that takes chances, than the cheap Identity rip off that was The Ward.

Check it out. It's not a bad film, it just lacks some focus and dare I say a guiding hand to focus the narrative a bit.

**1/2 stars out of *****

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