16 March 2010

Prince Of Darkness

From the very beginning you know that this is a John Carpenter movie. It's the music: a pulsing electronic bassline, pounding over a dull, relentless hum. John likes to do his own music, wherever possible, and whilst later films like Vampires allowed him to branch out into a less formulaic style, Prince Of Darkness has the same feel as the Halloween theme tune. It fits well, actually: bleak and sinister, reflecting the tone of the film perfectly.

The plot is straightforward, yet deceptively entertaining. It's a strange mix of quantum physics and theology, most of which sounds entirely plausible, and the efforts of a group of scientists and priests to hold back the ensuing tide of predictably bloody evil. Strange liquids, mysterious transmissionsand various problems with entropy and the arrow of time lead to an influx of zombies and other unpleasant happenings. Of course, on top of these strange and sinister events, it rapidly becomes obvious that Satan, the Prince Of Darkness, is well on his way to being released. Science and religionare required to work together to hold back the inevitable: there's no happy ending here...

Appearances from Donald Pleasence, Alice Cooper and Victor Wong merely add to the enjoyment, managing not to detract from the violence and horror in the slightest. That said, the film, unsurprisingly perhaps, fared poorly at the box office. The skilful mix of science and scripture seems to fall short of what's required to produce a successful horror film, despite the clear intelligence of the script.

Prince Of Darkness was originally released in 1987, and made DVD release in 2002. Its runtime of 101 minutes is refreshingly short and makes it perfect for an evening of intelligent horror. If you don't mind a little gore, and positively welcome the odd smattering of quantum physics and philosophy, Prince Of Darkness is the film for you...

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