Prince of Darkness (1987)

19 Mar

POD Catherine

Smith’s Verdict: **

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Prince of Darkness” is a thriller by John Carpenter, who clearly knows how to set up a story for such. His eye for relativity and terror in the more ordinary settings and situations is what made the thriller “Halloween” so special. And “Prince of Darkness” does have an intriguing idea and a promising setup—using scientific experiments that result in bringing the Devil back to life. You can play a lot to that. But unfortunately, the movie results in predictable jump-scares, too much mumbo-jumbo, and a climax in which a possessed person bangs a person’s head against a wall when he should be tearing it off. It doesn’t become exciting or suspenseful. Heck, it doesn’t even become cheesy. It just becomes boring.

It’s about a priest (Donald Pleasance, from “Halloween”) who enlists the help of a physics professor (Victor Wong) and his students to work on something peculiar in the basement of his church. Pleasance believes that the Devil’s return is near and it must be prevented. Wong (in on the theory) arranges for experiments that could stop the Prince of Darkness from appearing, without telling his students what they’re really doing. But who can ignore the big green thing in the giant glass tube that seems to be growing? Oh…may it be a life form?

So here we have a potential battle between certain science and the chaotic supernatural. But unfortunately, that’s not what we get. What we get is a horror movie, in which the evil force possesses each of the good guys and the ones that are left are forced to fight for their lives. When we hear about the Prince of Darkness about to rise, we expect something very interesting. But it turns out to be a washout. I don’t want vicious zombies taking over here. I want a fear of Armageddon. But no such luck. And of course, there’s a violent conclusion, followed by a twist ending that I really don’t follow very well.

Also, the movie’s pacing is poor. Everything moves so slowly, and not even a rock music score can keep it going. In fact, the music, co-composed by Carpenter himself, is quite terrible and hardly ever shuts up.

The setup is promising as the characters are introduced and the theory of the differences between our world and the supernatural is quite intriguing. But “Prince of Darkness” shows itself as pretty thin and lazy very quickly once we get into the story’s “conflict.”

NOTE: The opening credits lasts for nine minutes—that’s got to be some sort of a record, right?

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