There are horror movies that are chock full of blood and guts and then there are horror movies that are actually scary because of a chilling storyline and a creepy atmosphere. Back in the 80's (and late 70's with "Halloween" of course), John Carpenter was pretty much "the man" when it came to creating the ultimate horror movie atmosphere. The grainy film quality, the eerie characters, and let's not forget that John Carpenter wrote the music for most of his films too. The man had total control of how his movies would look and sound... and that's probably why they were so damned good. Out of all his works, however, there's one movie that most people haven't seen. And it's a sad thing too, because it's without a doubt in my mind, one of the greatest truly scary movies ever made. But it's more than that, it's honestly my all-time favorite horror movie. The movie is Prince of Darkness, and to this day it still creeps me out. Now let's go take a look at what sets this film apart from the rest of the pack...
Right off the bat, Carpenter's nightmarish music kicks in as we find Father Carlton unconscious in his bed with a little keepsake box which contains a key. He was taken to the hospital, but never regained consciousness and now it's up to Father Loomis (aka: the late Donald Pleasance, who played the role of "Dr. Samuel J. Loomis" in Carpenter's Halloween films) to find out what Carlton was up to. He reads through Carlton's diaries, and judging by the writings, things aren't looking too good. "I have witnessed his stirrings, felt the cold hellish blast..." Yeah, whenever you read something like that in someone's diary, chances are they're not talking about the last time the ice cream man came to visit.
So Loomis meets up with Professor Howard Birack (aka: the late Victor Wong, who played the role of "Egg Shen" in "Big Trouble In Little China" - one of my all-time favorites) to discuss what he has discovered in the basement of an old church where Father Carlton lived for about 20 years. And while most of us would probably guess it was a child porn collection, it's something that's just about as bad. Possibly worse.
After staring at the eerie green swirly stuff for a while, they find an old text which pictures the same cylinder inside it. In addition to being written in several languages and in numbers, the text has been erased and rewritten over in parts as many as three times, so it's going to take a while to decipher it. Still, I noticed the word "Sexaginta" in there, so I was pretty sure it was going to involve sex with Satan or something.
I guess professor Birack wasn't going to leave it up to chance, because he decided to assemble all of his best students together for a fun-filled weekend of green cylindered hijinks in a church. There's also a few homeless people covered in bugs hanging around outside the church, seemingly mesmerized by it. Birack seems to know that something is wrong with the bums, but he shrugs it off for now. To help him and Loomis uncover the mysteries of the cylinder, each of his students have a specialty: quantum physics, computers, microbiology, theology, carbon dating, and of course...
Knockin' booty. Not that you could expect anything less from a guy with a mustache. Back then, if a guy in a movie had a mustache, you knew he was going to be getting some action in the near future. Nowadays, if guy has a mustache, I think he's usually the first one to get murdered. Yeah, that sounds about right.
When the rest of the students arrive at the church, they look across the street only to find one particularly creepy looking bum. This guy needs to see some sunlight even more than I do! But this is no run-of-the-mill bum... this is the original shock rocker, Alice Cooper! As funny as that sounds now, he really does a superb job as an pissed off hypnotized mute bum with a desire to kill. He and the rest of his homeless crew gather around the church and just stand there. Eh, I guess when you don't have any money or place to sleep, that's just about as good as any other activity.
So this gal is getting her doctorate in theology - analysis of ancient scriptures, so her job is to decipher the big book page by page. So she starts typing away on the old computer only to find that the book has some pretty disturbing shit in it. And just what is going to be "unleashed" as the book claims?
Well for starters, there's worms. Not just any worms though... worms that want to crawl on the windows. Even weirder, anytime you see these worms, you hear sizzling bacon. I swear it! They just crawl on the windows while you hear the sounds of sizzling bacon!! And they just keep coming! they're all over the place!
MORE BACON SIZZLING WINDOW WORMS!
THEY LOVE THE WINDOWS! THEY SOUND LIKE SIZZLING BACON!
Uh oh, it looks like there might be more to that old cylinder than they had thought. According to her deciphering, Satan himself just might be sealed inside it. Even stranger, the thing can't be opened. It has a "weird locking mechanism that can only be opened from the inside." At this point, I would have stopped deciphering the text and would have just loaded up my copy of Space Quest on that old computer. If Satan is coming to destroy us all, I'm at least gonna have some fun while he's doing it... not decipher some text that will only depress me further.
So nerd-boy here has finished with his work for the day and he's headed home. I say he's a nerd because that's how all nerds were made to look in the 80's. Badly dressed with glasses and bow-ties. But instead of some dumb jock playing a prank on nerd-boy, he finds that one of the bums has left a little piece of artwork for him. Awww, it's a crucified pigeon! How nice! Now let's look up what this means in our "Ebumics" book.
Crucified Eel - "Marry Me."
Crucified Iguana - "I need some bail money."
Crucified Kangaroo - "Happy Birthday!"
Crucified Ostrich - "Dude! Play some Skynrd!"
ah yes here it is...
Crucified Pigeon - "YOU'RE FUCKED."
Yep, sure enough, Alice Cooper appears from around the corner and looks mighty pissed off that Nerd-Boy has violated the space of his crucified pigeon. So Cooper does what any homeless psycho would do. He picks up a nearby bike which has one of the ends sharpened to a fine point and then proceeds to impale nerd-boy on it.
Damn, tough luck there nerd-boy. :(
Now things get even weirder as the top of the cylinder starts dripping UPWARD onto the ceiling. So a green puddle is now forming on the ceiling, thus defying all logic and reason that these young scientists posses. But logic and reason are no longer a concern for Susan when the green liquid decides to shoot itself into her mouth. Sure it looks like a pool of fresh minty Scope mouthwash, but I assure you... any green liquid that has been sealed away for over 2000 years is gonna taste pretty damned vile. So, she gags on it for a while and eventually wakes up as some sort of zombie under the control of 2000 year old mouthwash. And what does a Scope-infested zombie do in her free time?
Why she cracks the necks of her co-workers of course! What else would she do!? Jeez, you people really need to stop asking such stupid questions when the answer is so obvious. Scope leads to murder. Got it? Ok, let's move on. While monitoring the big cylinder they soon realize that whatever is sealed inside it has psychokinetic powers. It can control some things on the outside and even move them all with the power of its mind. That's some powerful mouthwash in there, eh?
Meanwhile, Chuck Wyndham is outside arguing with his co-workers about how none of this stuff is real. He doesn't believe that there's anything supernatural about any of this. In fact, he goes as far to use some filthy language to describe it. Brace yourself, this is going to be hard to read for some of you. He... he... he calls it...
I know, I couldn't believe my ears either, but he said it a couple of times just to drive the point home. How this movie only got an R-Rating with language like that is beyond me. Well, at least he's punished for saying such a horrible thing. Zombie Scope girl even comes out to watch the show.
Out of the shadows, a homeless lady comes running towards Chuck with a pair of scissors. And now we learn why our teachers all told us why we shouldn't run with them: because we might accidentally stab someone... about 20 or 30 times. Oh yeah, there's also a bunch of bugs crawling around him, but no window worms from what I could tell. Still, I definitely heard the sound of frying bacon in there again. What is it about Satan and Bacon? I'll never figure that one out...
Now here is a bit of what we call "foreshadowing" kiddies. Yes, someone is apparently going to be chosen for something. Perhaps someone will be chosen to fry bacon for Satan, only time will unveil the answers to such queries. All we know at this point is that the strange symbol on the right there probably has something to do with it.
Now cut to a couple of different dream sequences, and yes in case you're wondering that is Dennis Dun (aka: "Wang Chi" from "Big Trouble in Little China) playing the role of Walter. John Carpenter really did like using a lot of the same characters over and over in his films. Nothin' or double, Jack. May the wings of liberty never lose a feather. Anyway, both Walter and Professor Birack have the same dream about a figure in the doorway. It's a really awesome shot and sounds like a radio transmission that's on the verge of breaking up completely. Upon awaking, Father Loomis explains to Birack that everybody who sleeps in close proximity of the church has the same dream. It's known as "The Brotherhood of Sleep."
And then there's the Brotherhood of Scope-spitting zombies. Looks like this girl won't be translating that book anytime soon, because now her mouth is filled with that green liquid o' Satan and I'm sure she'll want to get started on spreading the fresh breath too.
Elsewhere, Catherine notices that Kelly has a large bruise on her arm. She claims to have bumped it on some equipment in the basement the last time she was down there. Upon closer inspection, we notice that the mark on her arm is exactly like the one in the book from earlier! Uh oh! Looks like Kelly is the chosen one.
Will the mark on her arm become a new body art craze?
Will Alice Cooper start singing "Poison" at some point?
Will the sounds of frying bacon ever leave my head?
Click onward to page 2 and find out!
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