Welcome back the second part in the review of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy. Today, we are going to take a look at 1987 Prince of Darkness. Holy shit, this film is not only my least favorite one in the trilogy…it could be one of the worst John Carpenter’s film. Yes, although he’s my all-time favorite director, I can’t stand this film at all.
According to Derek O’Cain at iMDB, the plot goes something like this…
“A sinister secret has been kept in the basement of an abandoned Los Angeles church for many years. With the death of a priest belonging to a mysterious sect, another priest opens the door to the basement and discovers a vat containing a green liquid. The priest contacts a group of physics graduate students to investigate it. Unfortunately, they discover that the liquid contains the essence of Satan himself, and they also discover that he will release HIS father – an all-powerful Anti-God! The liquid later comes to life itself, turning some of the students into zombies as the Devil comes forward to release his father. Will these students be able to stop him?”
Trust me, you should go to iMDB and read this short synopsis there before watching this film. The first 15-20 minutes contributes NOTHING to the film and it just goes on and on and on. It’s really boring since, basically, it’s just our hero named Brian Marsh tries so hard to get in bed with a girl he likes. And when the group go to the church…you think that’s where an excitement begins? Oh, no. I know they try to create characters’ tension and conflict like The Thing, but it failed. Plus, we know exactly who’s about to get killed. It’s kinda similar to 80’s slasher film in which a victim usually stands alone in the dark…and when he/she turns her head BAM! A victim gets killed. It’s so predictable that it destroys haunting atmosphere horribly.
I mean, there’s a different between slow build-up and boring as hell (no pun intended). Take a look at The Thing and Christine, these two Carpenter’s films using slow build-up to make audience understand characters and create suspense atmosphere at the same time. But here, it’s nothing but slow pacing that just keep going and going. So, when jump scare happens, it’s like “Huh?”.
Poor man’s Fulci
One thing that comes to my mind while watching Prince of Darkness is Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond. It has similar elements but with different execution. Hell? Check. Zombie? Check. The ending that makes audience uncomfortable? Check. They are really similar! So, besides gory stuffs, I think what Prince of Darkness should learn about is storytelling. I remember that The Beyond does a better job in creating haunting atmosphere and excites us.
Physics and religion
Two things that rarely appear together are also here. I like the film’s effort to combine these two issues together, but, as I said before, I can’t stand the film pacing at all.
Prince of Darkness is disappointing. It has a really great setup, but the execution is a huge let down to me. I’m sorry if my article looks more like a rant, but that’s actually what I think after watching this film. So, I have no choice but to give this film….
Next week: We conclude the trilogy with an interesting horror film that has better concept than Inception. Yeah, I said it.