Published on May 9th, 2007 | by Vincent BlackShadow


Prince of Darkness

Last Sunday, being a mild and sunny day in Autumn, I decided to do the only appropriate thing: pull down the blinds and indulge in some casual drug abuse while watching a couple of the movies that had been gathering dust on my shelf.

I’d been meaning to watch John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987) for some time now. I might have to sell my wife to pay the late fees at Kinko’s DVD Emporium, but at least I’ll be able to say I’ve seen the film.

The following is less of a review than a testament to being flabbergasted at the the sheer, hilarious badness of this film. It wasn’t even bad enough to be good. What is it about the 80s that prevented anything from being scary? Was it the moustaches? The stereotypical characters? The following may go some way toward answering that. Or maybe not, you be the judge.

If any of you are planning on sitting through this ridiculous film, first of all I say to you, don’t! And secondly, there are plot spoilers coming aplenty. If you can call the thin rail this film rides on a plot.

Calling this film Prince of Darkness is quite a misnomer: this so called Prince is strangely absent; as for darkness – there is none.

The basic premise of the film is that a priest (Donald Pleasance) enlists the help of a professor at the local university to investigate some strange goings on at an abandoned church. The professor looks like a cross between Mr Miyagi and Fu Manchu and the strange goings on involve a tube of green slime that has started to glow and and goo inside has begun to revolve like a washing machine set on the delicate cycle. Other ‘weird’ shit is happening too: The homeless population of the town start to gather around the church day and night, staring vacantly at the building as if hypnotised. Except for the head homeless guy (Alice Cooper) who narrows his eyes and sneers a bit.

The professor gathers his brightest and dorkiest science students and sets them up in the church to somehow ‘monitor’ these goings on. So far, so Excorcist, but then the brainiac College Kids are introduced. These characters are so stock they could have been put out by Maggi. They were so typical that I didn’t manage to remember any of their names so I’ll just refer to them by ‘type’.

You have The Main Guy, a dude with a moustache and blow-waved hair. He is the only one that gets laid. He bangs The Main Girl who is only slightly less ugly than the other chicks who all have glasses anyway. In horror movie fashion, this means she’s going to die. But not yet. Part of the suspense is that you may get to see her tits again before she does. The Main Guy is broody, moody and buff. After bonking the The Main Girl, instead of having a cigarette, he sits out on the porch with his shirt off, cock-duster moustache perfectly brushed and conspicuously moisture-free, staring portentiously out into the dawn’s early light.

Then there’s The Asian Student. He has an Anglicised name that no one has anymore like Dunstan or Winston and is overanimated to the point of seizure. He also thinks he’s Cool As Fuck and tries to crack on to all The Other Chicks even though he puts the stresses on all the wrong words in his lines. There’s a point where he offers one of The Other Chicks a ‘root beer’ or something and says “Do you WANT a root BEER?”

A film incorporating science would be nothing without The Uber-Nerd. He of thin build, high-waistedness, thick glasses and pocket protector. Yep, he’s in there, but he doesn’t do much except get impaled on half a bicycle frame by Alice Cooper. Strangely enough, he’s listening to Alice Cooper on his Walkman at the time.

There are a couple of peripheral characters in there whose only function is to increase the body count, needless to say, they’re The Fat Guy, The Black Guy and The Frat Guy and they all meet semi-gruesome ends.

So, characters vaguely established and the shagging out of the way early, these College Kids settle in to the Abandoned Church with all their high-tech 80s monitoring equipment. I’ll not completely bore you with too much detail, but suffice to say horror fails to ensue.

It is established via some Ancient Texts that the green tube in the basement somehow contains the Son of Satan that has been kept hidden in suburban USA for 7 million-odd years. Basically, what happens after that is that one of The Other Chicks becomes possessed by the green tube after it shoots a thin stream of water directly into her mouth. Obviously not much for Satan’s son to do in limbo other cop his corporeal moves from porno.

One after the other, various minor characters get the squirt and a dusting of flour by the make-up department, then shamble around pale-faced trying to look possessed while only succeeding to look like they’ve been up all night baking.

The few characters that are left barricade themselves in a room, stacking all the furniture up against the door while they ward off the possessed and their Satanic squirts and try to figure out what to do. There is much serious philosophising from Main Guy and Main Girl, all of which is moot since all they need to do is to smash the green tube and they’d all be safe. However, no one thinks of this. What they also didn’t think of was to pack a phone amongst all their ‘monitoring’ equipment – one quick call to the authorities and they’d-a-been outta there.

I’ll not completely spoil the high-tension ending for anyone brave enough to watch it, but it involves an axe, a make-up mirror and a strangely ant-Semitic joke from the Asian Student. It would be unfair to say that nothing could be gained from Prince of Darkness. I did learn something. What I learnt is that homeless people are in league with the devil, it is possible to keep a moustache neat under pressure and that guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses, no matter how smart they are.

John Carpenter has made some good films (The Thing, Halloween) but this is not one of them.

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