Prince of Darkness

Viewed – 20 January 2019

In my ongoing quest to watch and review director John Carpenter’s back-catalogue, we come to this 1987 somewhat ignored entry in his filmography.  Starring genre favourite and Carpenter regular Donald Pleasence as a priest who stumbles upon a decades long secret held by a church, that has been housing a sinister, mysterious force in it’s basement.  On the death of the priest last given the task of keeping the secret er…secret, Pleasence turns to a college professor (Big Trouble in Little China’s Victor Wong) who recruits a group of students to monitor and understand the strange discovery.


I’ve been a fan of this movie for a while, having caught it on TV numerous times.  However on viewing it recently it dawned on me that it’s night quite the sum of it’s parts.  Firstly the acting varies from passable to pretty bad, and dialogue is delivered like the cast are reading autocues, with a consistent lack of feeling.  The setting is at least creepy and unnerving and acts as a character of it’s own, and the weird vat of green mist / goo is suitably is ominous.  Also in the final act the movie cranks up the freakiness and proves effective especially once the evil presence starts taking affect on various characters.  The idea is probably a bit too ambitious for it’s own good and doesn’t quite deliver either in scares or concept, feeling half-finished.  It also takes itself way too seriously.  Not one of Carpenter’s worst, but not up their with his best either.

I didn’t manage to pick up the also available deluxe edition of this Studio Canal release that comes in the same packaging treatment as the recently released Escape from New York and The Fog, but we still get some decent extras.  This includes the always essential John Carpenter commentary, as well as interviews, scene analysis, trailers, behind the scenes featurette and a photo gallery.  The movie itself is in decent shape, with Carpenter’s eerie score proving especially effective in DTS HD 5.1.  Dialogue is also crisp and the movie looks good, if a little smudgy and overly soft in places.  Overall above average treatment for a fun if ultimately unsatisfying movie.


(the movie)  3 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5

3 thoughts on “Prince of Darkness

  1. I really like Prince of Darkness, sure its not the star of Carpenter’s filmography but it has a lot going for it. I like the sense of dread and the novel slant on horror that all the Quatermass-like science gives it. Its the end of the world and nobody knows its happening, and even messages from the future cannot save us, or us save that future. I love the soundtrack score too. I wish Carpenter was still making movies like this, as if he could have been a genre Woody Allen making low-budget films every year. Ultimately the low-budget and tight schedule proves the films undoing but I’ll forgive it all that. I love the ending.

    Mind, I saw this back in the cinema when it was new. It might no have aged well for viewers coming to it now for the first time, but back then, it was great.


    • Hey thanks for the comment. I still liked it, hence my 3 /5 for me just felt a little disjointed and not fully realised. However those good moments, especially the final act… are great.


  2. I initially wasn’t too impressed with the film, but the more I watch it, the more things I like about it. Like In The Mouth of Madness, it really feels like an entry in the Cthulhu Mythos.


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