Prince of Darkness

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: John Carpenter

REVIEWED: 12-20-98

Outside of Halloween and Escape From New York, most film buffs tend to overlook much of John Carpenter's work. While the recent hit Vampires proves that the longtime director's creative vision is well intact, there are an assortment of other Carpenter nuggets that deserve a second look. One of these is Prince of Darkness. Shot on a shoestring budget with no stars (except for Carpenter regular Donald Pleasence and rocker Alice Cooper), the film explores an innovative take on the old Satan theme. The premise here is that the devil was actually an extraterrestrial who has been locked away in an alternate world that mirrors our own. His son, however, has been preserved as a mass of liquid in an ancient container. When a priest (Pleasence) discovers that the deadly broth intends to free his father, he recruits an old physicist professor (Victor Wong) and an assortment of his students to combat this chemical phenomenon. Soon, our heroes find themselves trapped as the sinister fluid has infected a gaggle of homeless people who kill anything that leaves the church. Zombies, Satan, Alice Cooper. This film has some essential elements for a fright fest, but in the end, Carpenter's moody synth-score and taut direction steal the show. The storyline is certainly unlike that of any other devil flick and the Night of the Living Dead-like setting enhances the suspense level. Creepy to say the least (but not without some cheesy schlock value), Prince of Darkness remains one of Carpenter's forgotten works that is worth a closer look.

--Mike Emery

Other Films by John Carpenter
Escape From L.A.
Halloween
In the Mouth of Madness
The Thing
They Live
Vampires
Village of the Damned

Film Vault Suggested Links
Night of the Zombies
Tales From the Crypt
Paranoiac

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