Jan 27, 2011
Following the box office stroke that was Big Trouble in Little China, John Carpenter grabbed his tool bag of familiar faces and set out to return to the reigns of horror with Prince of Darkness. Carpenter's career has been an odd one, for sure. The fellow has directed an extremely diverse cast of individuals with inventive and fresh story lines so in some respect, it's as if Carpenter was a peddler of quality, more than the average film maker with cult acclaim. Prince of Darkness is the second film in Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy", beginning with The Thing and ending with In the Mouth of Madness. It would seem so the arbitrary opinion of the masses have crucified this film for obvious reasons - the intellectualism behind it. Fusing science and religion seamlessly, Prince of Darkness offers you two doors, one encompassing the mundane world of horror concentrate and the other brimming with pseudo-scientific explanations and theoretical sacrilege. For these reasons, Prince of Darkness should be a film universally accepted as a masterpiece in horror storytelling. Even with the monument I have built around it, its flaws don't put any cracks in the hull nor endanger the ultimately woeful and haunting climax.
I firmly believe that John Carpenter borrows many ingredients from Lamberto Bava's devilish discourse, Demons, whether he realized it or not. What first lent the idea was the similarly styled soundtrack in which Carpenter fashioned himself, perhaps in the mold of Italian prog-rock maestros Goblin. My next clue was the particular attention to detail of the systematic infection and the confinement within a "marked" piece of historical architecture. Prince of Darkness maintains the similar layout until the actual thesis of antimatter and he also known as Satan are divulged. For what it's worth, the beginning and the end of this film highlight the peak of horrific success. The opening scene, while shuffling through the credits, is magnified with silent instances of conversation amidst the influenced soundtrack. The anxiety present on certain faces sets the tone for what is sure to be a hell of a night. A romantic rendezvous with obsession is even met while Brian Marsh quietly longs for Catherine Danforth from afar, a student of a rivaling reality. This alone makes the final scene almost intoxicating, achieving the same affect that 1986's The Hitcher and Goosebumps - The Haunted School had on me at such an impressionable age.
Following atomic theory, Carpenter left not a single instrument of mathematics out, leaving Prince of Darkness exactly that of an equation. Using the clues left by brief moments of academia, one can determine the fate and origins of the "dream tape". Spoilers will be present in the remainder of this paragraph so resume with caution. Early on in the film while the students discuss the lucid crossroads each and every volunteer has been subject to, Brian Marsh brings up a likely hypothesis of the images being linked to tachyons, which are subatomic particles that travel faster than the speed of light. Due to the tachyons nature of relativity, you would not see it but two visible impressions of it departing and arriving. Fast forward to the ending in which Catherine is revealed to be stuck in the "mirror image", it's hinted that the warbled person narrating could in fact be Brian, as the voice hopes to alter past events. Given that tachyons are clued to travel back in time, throttling backwards, it's only obvious that Brian's detailed obsession with Catherine has led to the evolution of this equation, giving him access to the past in an attempt to rediscover his love in order to tell her that which he did not. I have not even begun to highlight the subversion of reality that Prince of Darkness so shamelessly conquers. Let the fine filmmaking speak for itself.
On account of the entertaining aspect of horror, I must divulge the second side to Prince of Darkness. As you'd guess, eventually the canister containing the primordial ooze that is the son of Satan is unlocked releasing pure and utter terror into the narrow halls of this ancient church. So in some regards, Prince of Darkness takes the throne of holy horror after I was left underwhelmed by what I have seen of Soavi's The Church - also considered a sequel of sorts to Demons. To switch from my stern approach to this underrated horror classic, Donald Pleasence's character credited as "Priest" is known as "Father Loomis" with the English subtitles turned on. Just another log in the fire, I suppose, as Carpenter had already established his date with the past by including many regulars in Prince of Darkness. Carpenter is that very rare directing force of which I could not state a personal favorite. I can spend hours discussing my affection to all three films in the trilogy but If I were to be challenged to pick a single, I'd be lost without words. All I can issue is my determination to get others to see Prince of Darkness for what it really is - an absolute success in menace and faith. Easily one of his best directorial efforts in which startled me and left me in a somber daze.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 12:39 PM
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