Prince of Darkness (1987)
TRIPLE REVIEW BY BRIAN, BRAD & JIM
What’s It About: Well all three of us are going after this one, so I’ll (Jim) just say that it is one of the better late-in-the-oeuvre Carpenter movies, and it is about Satan so I finally am coming back to the fold with my reviews after straying a bit.
Here are some of our observations as we watched the film:
- JIM: Who doesn’t love those Carpenter synth riffs that start off his movies huh?
- JIM: This movie was written by Martin Quartermass – $20 says that’s a pseudonym for J.C.
- JIM: Half a Simon from Simon & Simon is in this.
- BRIAN: I think he got lost on his way to a Fire Island fashion shoot.
- BRAD: Is he scared of that red-haired lady or attracted to her?
- JIM: It looks like the creepy priest from Poltergeist 2 died with a Christmas ornament on his crotch.
- BRIAN: Whoever opens it will get the surprise of a lifetime!
- JIM: It is always awesome to see the late great Donald Pleasence in a widescreen anamorphic shot.
- JIM: Egg Shen! This is a reunion movie. Dirk Blocker co-stars in this as well. He’s the guy that runs interference for Geddy Lee. (At least Brad laughed at that one I trust.)
- BRAD: I keep thinking of Dirk Diggler.
- JIM: There’s Wang from Big Trouble In Little China too! Definitely a reunion movie.
- BRAD: I wish this was a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China.
- BRIAN: All of these college students are in their 40s.
- JIM: For a moment there I thought the blonde girl in the class was going to have “love you” written on her eyelids.
- JIM: Jameson Parker rocks the 70’s porno moustache quite well for 1987.
- BRAD: He makes Castro Street proud!
- JIM: Did anyone else want to see Michael Myers next to his station wagon when Brian looked out of the classroom window? Nobody? OK, fuck me.
- JIM: Why do nuns always walk in pairs or in 3’s? Fucking eerie.
- BRAD: Jameson Parker has a ton of red ants on the back of his Zenith. Better call the Orkin Man!
- JIM: He didn’t notice that his TV was covered in fire ants?
- BRAD: Egg Shen meets Father Loomis. I wonder if he’s related to Dr. Loomis?
- JIM: There really should have been an Egg Shen/Dr. Loomis team-up movie.
- BRIAN: Donald Pleasence is yelling at a lamp. Not in the script.
- BRAD: Does every church have a basement level with supernatural relics?
- BRIAN: So there’s some green goop that looks like a mixture of semen and goose shit in the basement of this church that’s some kind of life form or something, and it has to do with the Bible because it’s in a church and all, but I don’t know what all these physicists have to do with it.
- JIM: That giant, green, obviously Satanic vial is what I would imagine the inside of the Ghostbusters’ protection grid looks like.
- BRAD: It kinda looks like a Bacta Tank from Star Wars.
- JIM: What is with the church and its prolific use of candles?
- BRAD: So who lit all these candles in this basement church?! The old guy (from the beginning with the dick-box) who had the only key to get down there died a week ago!
- JIM: Why the Hell is Tom Atkins absent from this movie?
- JIM: Jameson Parker, who plays Brian Marsh, is futzing with a deck of cards like he’s Nicholson in Batman.
- JIM: Even though Loomis is talking about Satan, he still sounds like he’s talking about Myers. Yep, referenced him again.
- BRIAN: Alice Cooper leads a gang of creepy homeless. I think he has it in for the college students. School’s out!
- BRAD: Hopefully this Alice Cooper flick is better than last years.
- JIM: OK, Peter Jason is in this so we can forget about the Tom Atkins omission.
- JIM: A lab constructed in a church? Science and religion that close together? Say it ain’t so.
- BRAD: This movie could use a really cool 80s style helper robot. Like Rocky IV had.
- JIM: Calder is played by the guy who was the Black Lectroid commander in Buckaroo Banzai. Just felt like referencing that movie.
- BRAD: How many times is Donald Pleasence going to walk up the church and stare at it ominously before going in? This is like the third time.
- JIM: Uh oh, Alice looks pissed.
- BRAD: Yeah no more Mr. Nice Guy.
- BRIAN: Just another crazy homeless person walking around with a cup of shit with maggots in it. I don’t see the big deal.
- JIM: Nothing worse than a homeless woman whose voice is pitched down with a harmonizer.
- BRAD: She sounded like Harvey Fierstein on helium.
- JIM: Why is Satan sealed in a giant shamrock shake?
- BRAD: Maybe it’s mouthwash?
- BRIAN: One chick just got bukkaked by the green goop. Brad said she looked like my wife before. She definitely does now.
- JIM: I can’t tell if that one scientist is Richard Belzer or Justin Long.
- JIM: Computer fonts were much larger than I remember in 1987.
- BRAD: I never seen a Simon & Simon episode but did either of them ever shoot a criminal or make a criminal do something to stop and use the quip: “Simon says…?” Like one of the Simons shoots a bad guy and he says: “Simon says…rot in hell!” Because that would be awesome. Sorry, back to our regularly scheduled program.
- JIM: Jesus, Squirm didn’t have this many worms on the windows.
- JIM: Quaker chewy granola bars, Kool-Aid Koolers, Shasta, Almost Home cookies, and Coors Extra Gold. It’s the 80’s!
- BRAD: It’s like a typical party at my house.
- BRIAN: The homeless made a crucified pigeon. I wonder if they knew how to do that already, or did they just wing it?
- JIM: Who has the free time to crucify a pigeon?
- BRAD: Only Pigeon Bleed.
- BRIAN: Alice Cooper impaled a nerd with a broken bicycle. 10-speed? No, EIGHTEEN!
- JIM: Alice got to kill the Belzer/Long looking guy while he was listening to one of his tunes. The heart of rock and roll is still beating.
- BRAD: First person in history ever impaled by bicycle.
- BRAD: I don’t think even Egg Shen knows what they’re doing there.
- JIM: Susan really should have been portrayed by Markie Post.
- JIM: It’s never good when things drip upward.
- BRIAN: One chick just got bukkaked by the green goop. Brad said she looked like my wife before. She definitely does now.
- JIM: A quick shot of Satanic Listerine and we have our first possession!
- BRAD: Dennis Dun jokingly says to another Asian actress that she can pass for Asian. OK, so what is she?
- BRIAN: They mentioned that this church was abandoned, but it’s fully powered and pretty clean.
- JIM: Frank expresses his cynicism and general disbelief by shouting that this is “ca-ca.” Twice.
- BRAD: I haven’t heard the word “ca-ca” in a movie since Gremlins!
- JIM: Most of the shots of the street people are very Assault on Precinct 13.
- BRAD: Frank takes like a dozen stabs to the neck with pruning shears and still doesn’t die. He’s tough as shit.
- JIM: Stabbed to death while standing in a pile of beetles. See what having such a fucking potty-mouth gets you Frank?
- BRAD: Well there goes your “no animals were harmed in the making of this picture.” Poor beetles. This was their big Hollywood debut.
- BRIAN: Father Loomis likes to stare at Egg Shen while he’s sleeping, but don’t we all? Egg Shen believes a demon covered him in goop while he was sleeping, and Father Loomis lets him go on believing it.
- JIM: I’ve never had a nightmare that looks like it was shot on videotape – but I’d like to.
- BRAD: There was another transmission with more information for our heroes but it was in BETAMAX.
- BRIAN: Everyone here is having the same weird dream, like girls living together who sync their periods, but far less gruesome.
- BRAD: Blonde lady, Kelly, who for the life of me I can’t figure out her purpose here at all, bumped into equipment and got a bruise. Now the bruise is shaped like a cross. Or an X. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to look at it.
- JIM: Never ignore a bruise that looks exactly like the logo for Blue Oyster Cult.
- BRIAN: I think all these science students have around a 1.2 GPA.
- JIM: Two girls, one Satanic vomit.
- BRAD: The god Plutonium? I’m sure that in 1987, the god Plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955, it’s a little hard to come by.
- JIM: Frank really fell apart in that scene huh boys? Bah-zing!
- BRAD: There’s a guy sitting with Dennis Dun who we’ve never seen before.
- JIM: I don’t think that skin condition and that huge swelling in Kelly’s stomach are signs of better days ahead.
- BRIAN: A possessed woman is typing “I LIVE” on a computer over and over, a sly easter egg for Carpenter’s next picture. Maybe Rowdy Roddy Piper will make a cameo as the Prince of Darkness later, summoned by the same ceremony that turned One Man Gang into Akeem the African Dream.
- BRAD: No one does anything in this movie. Father Loomis is hiding in fear. Dennis Dun is in a closet hiding from the possessed chicks. The possessed people are just standing around and staring into nothing. Just like my wedding day.
- BRIAN: These “demons” or whatever the fuck they are turn others into demons by spitting into their mouths. Same thing that got me banned from Walmart.
- JIM: That scene with Brian jumping into the alley was utterly fucking useless.
- BRAD: It was a master plan. Jump out of the window, when the bums start approaching, you climb back up through the window. I don’t see the problem.
- JIM: Apparently Jewish mother jokes don’t work much on Satan. Good to know.
- BRIAN: Brad and I just spent the last few minutes talking about much better John Carpenter movies. I personally love Escape from LA and Memoirs of an Invisible Man. This picture is probably his worst.
- BRAD: We don’t know what’s really happening now. I think the problem is that Carpenter brought in all that math and science into this plot.
- JIM: The dreams shared by everyone are being transmitted from the year 1-9-9-9. Shit, I hope that whatever will happen then will, oh wait. Never mind, we’re good.
- BRIAN: I think Carpenter was being influenced by Italians. This is very convoluted. Of course, the Italians ripped him off plenty, so fair play.
- JIM: “The book says his purpose is to bring the father back from the dark side.” Yeah, Luke Skywalker already did that so what the fuck are we doing here?
- JIM: Calder is staring at himself in the mirror more than Tommy did.
- BRAD: Again just more staring. I would’ve rather these demons use the mirror to snort coke than watch them just stare at themselves.
- JIM: Looks like Christ is a no show yet again folks, try and run for the hills.
- JIM: What did Egg Shen think a shaken up can of Shasta was going to do against demonic possession?
- BRIAN: “You guys see any movies you like?” Not this one!
- JIM: At least Brian knew to duck when the Satanic vomit was shot at him.
- BRAD: He’s had a lot of practice.
- JIM: ‘bout time Loomis did something for the cause.
- BRIAN: The main demon chick looks like Pizza the Hut.
- JIM: Kelly’s makeup looks like a slice of Ellio’s pizza when it was in the microwave 2 minutes too long. Then when you take it out it’s really soggy and not as crispy than if you made it in the conventional oven, and the cheese is fused to the paper plate so that when you try to scrape it off with your teeth it really burns and gives you those flesh stalactites on the roof of your mouth but when you’re trying to rinse with cold water you realize that 5th period ends in 8 minutes but it’s a 10 minute walk back to class so you have to double time it up 1 hill and down 2 and then…Fuck. Don’t cha hate having those goddamn stress dreams?
- BRAD: I really don’t understand why Kelly is gestating into the anti-Christ. She was never touched by the other possessed folk nor touched anything remotely related to the supernatural entity. She bumped their own computer equipment to get that bruise. Maybe the evil entity just needed someone to bruise themselves to manifest into their body. If someone had canker sore or popped zit that would’ve worked too?
- JIM: Everyone open your mouths for the dry ice tubes please.
- BRIAN: In the end, all they had to do was break a mirror. No Roddy Piper or Akeem the African Dream. Thrilling.
- BRAD: Cathy bum rushes Kelly and thrusts both themselves into a netherworld in the mirror. Father Loomis then throws an ax and breaks the mirror. Why did Cathy have to thrust herself in with kelly? A simple push would’ve sufficed. No?
- JIM: A dream within a dream and some liquid mercury.
- BRAD: So this flick didn’t even have a Prince of Darkness on screen. What the holy hell?
- BRIAN: Why was Alice Cooper in this? I guess he needed some extra cash to feed his Frankenstein?
- BRAD: Where did he even go? Why didn’t the bums try harder to storm the building? Why didn’t the bums try harder to stop them from entering the building? What was their purpose?!
Scare Level: JIM: I’m gonna catch shit for this but I don’t consider Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” scary. They’re monster movies. Halloween and The Fog were scary. I will say that the dream sequence that was transmitted to everyone was very creepy.
BRAD: Alice Cooper was perfect for his role as the menacing bum but no, nothing scary.
BRIAN: The scariest part was seeing a shirtless Brian’s concave nipples. Not me Brian, but the character. Mine are actually disturbingly puffy.
Gore Level: JIM: Better than average as far as J.C’s movies go I think.
BRAD: Kelly’s pizza-face makeup was all the gore I recall. Even when Frank was getting sliced by the pruning shears I don’t remember any blood. Same goes for the bicycle kill.
BRIAN: I guess it was as gory as the reject bin at a Domino’s.
Nudity Level: JIM: Non-existent.
BRAD: Like the titular Prince of Darkness!
BRIAN: Concave man nipples. We didn’t see Egg Shen’s Little Egg.
Best Line: JIM: “Your kingdom Father, does not include my unconscious. It’s mine and I may abuse it any way I wish without having to address what’s in it.” One of the greatest slams towards a priest I’ve heard in at least 2 months.
BRAD: All right. A Jewish mother goes to the airport to meet her daughter. The daughter steps off the plane with an eight-foot-tall Zulu warrior with a bone through his nose. The mother screams, “You fool! I said a rich doctor!”
BRIAN: “Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream.” Our technology only limits us to light time travel, but it’s just not strong enough.
Best Scene: JIM: I’d have to go with Alice’s broken bicycle killing.
BRAD: That’s a tough scene to beat. I concur.
BRIAN: Although it’s hard to do better than a bicycle impalement, I’m gonna go with this guy getting stabbed for a few reasons, mostly because I don’t understand what the bugs had to do with anything, the weird motion of the close up of the scissor, and the fact that this ordinary dude is the toughest son of a bitch alive and takes a dozen stab wounds before he goes to his knees.
Worst Scene: JIM: Definitely the one where Brian Marsh jumps into the alleyway for no other reason except to show that he did his own stunt.
BRAD: There was a lot of boring, nothing-to-do scenes when the possessed are all standing around and staring. But yeah, I was completely puzzled as to Brian’s escape plan.
BRIAN: When it’s revealed that the woman who has developed an antichrist bruise on her arm got it by bumping into “something” in the basement, and upon rewinding it that “something” was revealed to be one of their own random machines. So that made a ton of sense.
Level of Hell: JIM: I vote for a light tickling. It is a Carpenter movie after all.
BRAD: I remember nothing about this film the first time I saw it about a decade ago (save for Alice Cooper) and for good reasons. It’s not a very good engaging supernatural horror film. Carpenter has like 7 better flicks than this and should’ve done better with this sort of material. I say: Limbo. But just barely.
BRIAN: I’m in total agreement with Brad there with Limbo bordering on Anger. I love John Carpenter, but I wouldn’t care if Andy Sidaris co-directed this with Aklira Kurosawa and Steven Spielberg, it’s still a big nothing of a movie.
Overall: JIM: Another Schlocktoberfest for the books. I can’t believe I’ve been involved with this in varying degrees of attendance for five years now, and this is only the second (?) Carpenter film I’ve done. Now that I think about it, most of his movies are awesome and don’t need to be shit on. I’d definitely go on record as saying this is one of his weaker flicks (Ghosts of Mars was far worse) but it had the Carpenter look and feel, and that is an always satisfying opiate.
Jim’s Score: 8 Giant Green Vials Of Pure Concentrated Satanic Goodness (out of 10)
BRAD: This is a very forgettable horror movie and a very weak apocalyptic story concerning the Anti-Christ. I like the idea of combining science and quantum physics and religion to tell this story but it was way too much scientific mumbo-jumbo. If half the movie was the research team working on the green satanic matter and mid-way through they “released” it in some form to have to use science to defeat a demonic persona then that would be better I think. Having just some possessed people isn’t enough for me, especially when they don’t do much but stand around or spit water into people’s faces. One guy, in fact, killed himself only be alive again a few scenes later. Pointless. And speaking of pointless, the bums outside the church. What was their purpose? They only killed people who exited the church and didn’t do squat otherwise. I’m assuming they didn’t want people in there since they’re killing them but why didn’t they kill them going in? Or storm the church (they had greater numbers it seemed) and kill them in the church. It’s just baffling how restrained Carpenter was with his horror elements this time around. I also find it quite ironic that it seems by the research team being there working and tinkering with the church and the vat of evil that they are in fact, causing the return of the Anti-God. What would the Anti-God do if he didn’t have people to possess and gestate from? Was he just hoping the bums would enter the church? Not likely since it was locked. This was a very convoluted story and could’ve used some more work story-wise. Like I said, I saw this for the first time about a decade ago and hardly remembered a thing about it. Watching again was no easy task again. But there was enough Carpenter elements (Music, editing, gore) for me not to completely hate it and would maybe check it out again if I’m feeling up to it. Like Jim said, “It is a Carpenter movie after all.”
Brad’s Score: 5.5 Videotape Warnings From The Distant Future (out of 10)
BRIAN: Brad and I watched this together, and I don’t know if that helped or hurt, since most of the time we spent talking about other Carpenter movies we’d rather be watching. It doesn’t start out well, the middle is boring, and the ending sucks, but other than that, good work, Johnny. And what a letdown after Alice Cooper’s first appearance, because you get excited that Alice Cooper is in this movie, but aside from stabbing a guy with a bike he literally does nothing else but stand around. Which I guess is a pretty fitting metaphor, but for what I don’t know. As the other gentlemen said, you can’t hate on any Carpenter too much, but it’s definitely the bottom of his barrel, which he wears over his nude body to hide his concave nipples.
Brian’s Score: 5 African Dreams (out of 10)