Prince of Darkness (1987)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Oct 23, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

The middle film in John Carpenter's loose 'apocalypse trilogy' (in between The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness), Prince of Darkness is a sustained mood piece that puts the viewer at the doorstep of a coming apocalypse. Taking place in basically one location - a dilapidated church in the middle of LA, the director follows up the giddy charm of Big Trouble in Little China with a picture packed with an overwhelming sense of dread. It's a hard film to pin down, as it melds scientific and religious riddles along with pseudo-zombie/possession themes. Some have claimed the central conceit of anti-matter leading to the devil to be goofy, but the film hardly ever breaks a smile. Indeed, the film was not well received at the box office, yet there remain little doubts about it within the cadre of Carpenter aficionados. The aural pulse of the soundtrack (once again supplied by the director) cues the viewer into the graveness of the story, which takes its time until the end when all hell breaks loose for the human survivors. Filled with disturbing imagery - and Alice Cooper as a homeless zombie - Prince of Darkness is not for a casual viewer, but for ones who will take delight in visual nods to Dario Argento, along with the pleasure of seeing such a classic Carpenter ensemble (the likes of Donald Pleasance, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, and Peter Jason) at work in this no-hope playground of horror.