I have a sneaking suspicion that people are hiding John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness far away from the prying eyes of popularity. Maybe this is one of those things that people pretend is bad so that other people won't like it. You know like, Kriss Kross,
and Baby Boom.
Things that are secretly good but if introduced to the masses will become not good because too many people like it. It's basically, exactly what happened to the Black Eyed Peas.
Anyways. As one of my good friends put it, Prince of Darkness is a movie that you feel you're not supposed to like. It's strangely unconventional for a horror film, makes little sense when actually dissected and is kind of racist. But somehow you end up falling head over heels in love with Prince of Darkness and all of its liquid Satan glory. Alright, I made up that part about it being racist but honestly what is one supposed to think when an Asian guy with a chronic squint kills a guy with a chopstick? OR when a reincarnation of Satan gets implanted into a black guy and then spends the rest of the movie crying into a mirror?
Mmmhmm that's what I thought.
Before we get into a discussion of metaphysics, differential equations and atomic theory, I would just like to point out how difficult it is to assess WHICH Prince of Darkness, Prince of Darkness refers to. Clearly I sorted it out whilst watching, but beforehand I was all prepared to watch a film about Dracula. I was also not positive that it wasn't a film about Ozzy Osbourne, Miles Davis, Jared Leto or General Sir Mike Jackson either (Chief of British General Staff and commander of KFOR in the liberation of Kosovo for all you people not in the know) (Keep in mind I looked that up on Wikipedia and am not actually smart). So yes, The Prince of Darkness is a nickname that applies to just about anyone but in this case we are talking about Satan.
In Prince of Darkness, a mysterious cylinder filled with green liquid is discovered in the basement of an abandoned church.
After discovering a deceased priest's diary, priest Donald Pleasance enlists the help of Professor Howard Birack and several academics to assess the situation. What they find is that the liquid inside the cylinder is actually Satan and spewing out tons of smart things, and codes that is slowly taking control of people and turning our world into an apocalyptic hell. Even scarier than this is the discovery that Satan may not even be the biggest threat after all... !
As liquid Satan's power grows, so does his ability to take over the academics and professors. as well as the strange gang of street dwellers outside. It soon becomes very apparent that the world is turning over to the devil's control. Dun dun dun.
So yes, Prince of Darkness is worlds apart from "conventional" means of a demonic, religious-ish horror film isn't it? How often do we find the world of religion at ends with the world of science? Perhaps if I had to name something bad about the film it would be that it doesn't make sense. Or does it? Hopefully I'm not alone in voicing my overall confusion on...well, just about everything. Satan was sending signals of world domination into the future? Or something? What? Is that even right? I don't know! I don't get any of it--but it really doesn't matter. OR I should say, it doesn't really matter to me. I'm sure one of the main reasons this film is not elevated to the highest level of awesome is because it seems kind of convoluted and well....ridiculous. But come on. Satan is in liquid form! Does it get any better than that?
If you put away the fact that the science, math and theorizing is all confusing and stuff, you should still be able to appreciate Prince of Darkness for the startling amounts of spookiness and strangeness. This film may be one of the best representations of subtle scaring that I have ever seen. The best example is of course the unusual street gang dwelling outside the church. They do this thing where they just stand outside and look at you and watch you.
It's probably one of the creepiest things I've seen in a while. Plus, they crucify pigeons and shit...
Also creepy is Alice Cooper and his abnormally pale skin. I know you're Alice Cooper but do you have to look dead ALL the time?
There's also a lot of strange, unexplained phenomena not far from the likes of the beginning of The Fog. I LOVE this kind of stuff. Bugs everywhere, people talking in weird deep, demonic voices, tables moving, electrical stuff doing funny things.
Man, it doesn't get any better than that. It's simple, it's subtle and it's creepy and scary without shoving a bunch of crap in your face.
Even when people are "possessed" by Liquid Satan, no one turns into some scary, raving mad version of an Evil Dead-like face. Everyone still looks the same, only they're all weird and standing and staring.
It's brilliant! As far as I'm concerned, the mark of a truly brilliant horror filmmaker is the ability to make things scary without really working at it. Forget special effects and buckets of blood. Forget jump scares---this is what horror is about. Pure, unadulterated fear.
I also love the simple fact that something is amiss here. Even though we are given kind of an explanation as to what is happening, we still don't entirely know the ultimate agenda. We are actually a lot like the academic students, who are brought to a church without really being told what's going on. But we're on edge because we can sense that something bad is happening. We know that whatever is in that mysterious cylinder, isn't good and that simple fact is enough to keep us on our toes as we wait for shit to go down.
But shit doesn't come crashing down does it? No! John Carpenter--that brilliant maestro of horror shows true restraint by keeping the uneasiness rampantly flowing for almost the entire film. There's no huge *dun dun dun* moment of reveal, no startling discovery, no plot twist. No one is actually a demon in disguise (Although I was secretly banking on Donald Pleasance turning around being all like, "HAHA fooled you all, I'm the father of Satan bahahaha...but you know...he didn't) The film simply continues on its merry way of slowly but surely, delivering us the goods--the goods of an eventual apocalypse and that my friends, is impressive.
The film however also has its moments of entertainment. There's old squinty McGee over there.
Killing people with chopsticks and beer and taking names.
There's the odd pairing of two students who literally met the night before, had sex and are now in a serious relationship.
There's the surprise of finding out that Liquid Satan actually has quite a high typing speed. I'd guess at least 90 WPM and with a 0% error rate. I mean, give it up to Satan everyone, taking secretary classes on the weekend, he works hard for the money yeah!
And then there's of the course the insanely awesome and disgusting evolution of leprosy, as exemplified by the reincarnation of Satan himself.
Gross man, gross.
"Satan" as I like to call him, freaks me out with those black teeth. Possible membership may be granted into the Scary Face Club in the near future--just letting you know.
Yes, Prince of Darkness is all kinds of awesome. It makes me sad that it isn't talked about more but it also makes me glad. I prefer to keep this one in a small closet, locked and away from all those people that won't appreciate it. Me and my friends who love this film can open it up from time to time and smile and cry and give it a kiss on its little head. Oh Prince of Darkness....we will shield you from that awful, horrid world out there, don't you worry.
So in closing DO NOT see this movie. Just kidding, you should definitely see it--but not if you think you won't like it. And if you don't like it, just turn around and walk away. We can stay civil but just know that I will be burning down your house the second that I get some free time.