John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness!
by: -RoG-

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...

He also keeps pixies in that box. :o

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.

Church. Where else could you find so much evil in one place?

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.

A swirling green cylinder... of doom!


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.

Yo lady, there's somethin on your face there!

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...

Do you know the Mustache man? The Mustache man...

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.

Welcome to Coopertown. Enjoy your stay.

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.

Say... you got Pong on that thing?

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!


Are you a goth chick or somethin?

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.

Balancing a body impaled on a bike takes TALENT.
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."

I like to share! Minty fresh!

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.

BRANDED BY SATAN! Eh, I guess it could be worse...

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!



Reader Comments



Pickled Patriarch
Oct 2nd, 2009, 07:16 PM
For those of you who get Cinemax, they're actually playing John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" (my all-time favorite horror movie) throughout the month. In celebration of this, and the fact that I finally got to see it in a real theater this past week, I went ahead and updated my old article about the movie from like 8 years ago and put it into the new site template so you guys can finally it on here! The Brotherhood of Sleep awaits your comments.
Oct 2nd, 2009, 09:09 PM
This is the best anything.

Also Rog, thanks fore the heads up on Cinemax. Already DVR'd'ed.
Last of the Time Lords
Oct 2nd, 2009, 10:02 PM
Love this film. Between Halloween, The Thing and this, Carpenter was truly a Horror Movie king back in the day.

Then he made Memoirs of an Invisible Man and it all went to hell.
taco loving zombie
Oct 3rd, 2009, 12:05 AM
is the moustache guy the same guy from halloween 3?
Oct 3rd, 2009, 02:03 AM
I remember that poster hanging just inside the doorway of the video store where my mother worked as a kid. Scared the hell out of me every time I went to go see her.
Forum Virgin
Oct 3rd, 2009, 07:48 AM
Probably the weakest of John Carpenter's films (that I've seen, anyway), but still pretty awesome. The big green cylinder really does look menacing, and the scene where the guy is getting eaten apart by bugs is great. Satan typing in all caps like a 14-year-old forum troll, not so much.

If anyone's interested, I made a terrible song based on samples from this movie, "Conscious Neural Interference", and you can find it here: http://www.myspace.com/thehanglyman
Forum Virgin
Oct 3rd, 2009, 07:37 PM
This is one of Carpenter's best Hanglyman!
One of the few films thats genuinely freaked me out as an adult. I watched it late one night when in the delirium of sickness. Scared the shit out of me. I was also listening to Sonic Youth's 'Confusion is Sex' album a lot back then. 'Protect me you' reminds me of this film. Also freaks me out.
Forum Virgin
Oct 4th, 2009, 08:21 AM
Well, in explanation of what I said, I found it to be slower-paced than his other films, some of the deaths and special effects seemed more comical than horrific, the characters were pretty shallow and unlikeable so it was hard to feel anything when they got killed, and Satan inconsistently alternates between being a dark, shadowy, unfathomable force and taunting them in a very human, almost childish manner. Probably more than anything, the religious angle just didn't do it for me... the sci-fi alien horror in The Thing and the Lovecraftian story of In the Mouth of Madness were much more compelling to me (although I'll admit, the latter was pretty funny as well).

But don't get me wrong, it was a good movie. A lot scarier than your typical horror movie. In particular, the shots of the other side of the mirror really set my imagination going, thinking of Hell not as a place of fire and brimstone, but just a lonely, lifeless, pitch-dark void. Kelly and Catherine getting banished into that place forever really was scary... even though, as RoG pointed out, Catherine didn't even try to save herself.
Hypnotic Swirling Colors
Oct 4th, 2009, 09:50 PM
Pizza Face would also make a good band name.
Oct 4th, 2009, 09:53 PM
Awesome film. Too bad the days of horror films with brains seem to be over.
Jason's a Furry! Run!
Oct 4th, 2009, 09:55 PM
I'm quite ashamed how far behind on my Carpenter I am. Still need to see this, Mouth of Madness, The Fog (OK, seen the last half of that one), and whatever it was he did this decade. Better get moving.
Oct 5th, 2009, 01:40 AM
Is that dude with the mustache the guy from Simon & Simon?
Forum Virgin
Oct 5th, 2009, 01:45 AM
Hate to break it to you Relaxing Dragon, but quite frankly you are probably best served by avoiding pretty much anything Carpenter has done since the early 90s at the latest.

After somehow rocking the 80s and before with numerous amazing gems, he just seemed to sputter out IMO:-(

The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, this movie, the Halloween movies, The Fog, and Starman are really his "can't miss" gems. If you like a "so cheesy it's good movie" maybe tack on "They Live."

I haven't seen them in quite awhile, but I truly recall "Vampires" and "Ghosts of Mars" to be less than impressive for one reason or another and I really don't remember too many movies other than these. Maybe my memory serves me wrong on these movies though. I'd love to hear what others think...are there other gems I'm missing?
Oct 5th, 2009, 04:10 AM
It's too bad John Carpenter lost his mojo. I rate this and In The Mouth of Madness as his best works (oh, and Big Trouble in Little China, of course, Yay cheese!). I sort of lost track after that, until I saw Vampires a few years ago on some friends' recommendations. Ye gods! How did he go from being so good to so bad? As far as I'm concerned, John Carpenter died in 1990 and has been replaced by one of the things from They Live.
An Arizona Horror Company
Oct 5th, 2009, 08:16 PM
Early Carpenter's stuff is certainly the career-best work....but I've gotta speak up for the under-appreciated VAMPIRES. Most of it is totally ludicrous. You've got a Baldwin in there, that's never a good sign, and what's-her-name from TWIN PEAKS, also usually a sign of suckage to come. But come on: James Woods is in full scenery-chewing mode, and seems to be having such a good time staking the shit out of the undead, that I just can't hate it. (And the hotel-room massacre, where the one that got away comes back to lay waste to Woods' cronies, is a pretty decent gore set-piece.)
Oct 6th, 2009, 09:40 AM
John Carpenter is awesome, his movies are not cheesy at all, their dead serious tone is what makes them so fucking awesome. The "hey we know its bad get it?" shit is so overdone, like its a requirment now to have a horror movie. I'd like to see something with an oppressive dark atmosphere that really eats your brain our your eye sockets, like Aguirre The Wrath of God or the movie White Zombie.
Turrican't. :(
Oct 7th, 2009, 06:08 AM
Isn't this an older article, why has it been reposted? Or am I just tripping? I swear I've read this before, though. 0_o
Turrican't. :(
Oct 7th, 2009, 06:20 AM
NVM I didn't read ROG's post. I'm stupid like that.

BTW, this is awesome, not as awesome as The Thing but still awesome.
I hate this hacker crap!
Oct 8th, 2009, 04:02 PM
I don't think i read this one, and I certainly haven't seen the movie. I'm so not using scope now.
Forum Virgin
Oct 25th, 2009, 06:37 PM
Im watching the movie right now and I hear the sizzling bacon
Ranting Swede
Apr 27th, 2010, 07:36 PM
I found this at my local Hollywood Video store before they closed down. Got it for two bucks in great condition along with Day of the Dead.
Deadly Towers Survivor
Aug 30th, 2010, 12:08 AM
This movie looks creeeeeepy! I just might rent (if not buy) it sometime soon.

Oh, and narcolepticsloth, please tell me you're talking about the kick-ass original Day of the Dead, and not the piece-of-shit remake
Forum Virgin
Oct 30th, 2010, 10:41 AM
Great concept and I loved the movie but unfortunately there was a lack of funding to do what JC wanted to do. At least, that's the rumor.

The god Plutonium thing was a reference to nuclear weapons, I think, because it said it wouldn't save us. I assume it meant that our most powerful weapon would be no use against the anti-god. Again, it's just a guess but it makes sense to me.

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