John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness

My first full-length fright flick this month is John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness.

I recalled bits and pieces of this movie, but I honestly don’t know if my memories come from seeing the movie before or from reading about it in Fangoria. Either way, I went into this viewing pretty fresh. Overall, it was what I’ve come to expect from Carpenter – some interesting ideas, some genuine tension, but a letdown in the end.

Carpenter puts forth some heady stuff regarding the nature of good and evil, faith and religion. But it’s as if he couldn’t decide what kind of movie he was making here – philosophical horror think-piece, or slasher film? Mixed in with the theories about particles, anti-particles and mirror images are throat slashings, beetles and vacant-eyed zombies. In the end, evil is defeated with a fire ax.

There’s a lot here reminiscent of Carpenter’s classic Halloween, particularly in the way the “zombies” act after they become infected. They appear in and out of frame, silently and expressionlessly stalking their pray – much like boogeyman Michael Myers. And it doesn’t help that Dr. Loomis himself, Donald Pleasance, is here, this time as a priest trying to come to grips with new facts about his faith.

Carpenter’s made some real dreck over the years, but this isn’t among them. I’d put it third behind Halloween and The Thing – a very distant third. Not bad, but next time I think I’ll remember enough that I won’t need to revisit it.

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