Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prince of Darkness (1987)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 3/5

Sporting a pretty decent ensemble cast, Prince of Darkness is an original (albeit somewhat goofy) take on the guy who lives south of heaven. The film opens with a priest who is on his deathbed, clutching a metal box which contains a key. Another priest (played by Donald Pleasance), soon inherits the little box and its contents after the previous owner quickly kicks off. We quickly learn that the key unlocks the doors of an old church. As the opening credits finish, we see a band of homeless dregs gazing skyward, transfixed and hypnotized by some unseen force.

Father Loomis approaches a renown physics professor at a local college, pleading with him to round up a group of his students to solve an ancient mystery. Taking him to an underground, carved out area of the run down church, he expounds upon the existence of a secret order of priests that have been guarding a secret for centuries. Upon entering the area which is heavily adorned with crosses, a swirling large vat of green glop is located, front and center near an altar. The large cylindrical enclosure is apparently the Emeril Essence of Satan himself.

Along with another group of students (made up of biochemists), everyone shacks up for the night. Found next to the cylinder was an ancient text, written in a weird form of Latin that needed to be translated. A couple of kids are tasked with deciphering it. It becomes a fairly painstaking process as its revealed that whoever constructed it, also went to great lengths to make sure that folks weren't able to accurately translate it. Why even create it in the first place if the goal was to keep people dancing in the dark regarding Satan and his secret?

Anywhos, as the night wears on, each member of the group starts to come under the power of the evil which continues to swirl inside the tube. One of the gals thinks it a good idea to get as close as possible to the vat of goop. The green goop launches into her mouth and turns her into a glazed over, wandering zombie. She passes along the goop to the remaining members of the crew like a highly contagious case of the clap. The infected members each start going wacko including one that has a severe case of 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy', as she repeatedly types on her Apple II keyboard the phrase, 'I'm alive! I'm alive! I'm alive!'

By films end, just about half the crew has been either killed or has come under the spell of the evil green goopy cylinder. As the translation of the text comes down, we learn that Satan himself buried his own son in the desert before he was exiled to an alien planet. Jesus was later sent to warn us of the evil that was buried but everyone thought he was a cuckoo nutzoid and instead of heeding his word, they strung up and waxed him. For centuries, the order of priests had kept the secret hidden in the carved out dwelling underneath the church, well secured from the outside world.... until now that is.

At the films climax, one of the girls is infected by the gobbily goop but instead of turning into a zombie, she's instead inhabited by Satan's baby boy herself. In a Carol Ann drawn to the light scene, she attempts to pull dear ol' dad through a full length mirror. As she clutches and pulls pop's arm through (which looks incredibly like that of the devil-like creature from Legend), one of the girls valiantly sacrifices herself, tackling the impregnated girl, pushing them both through the mirror thats serving as a portal. Father Loomis takes an axe and breaks the glass, presumably ending the threat. End of story, hooray!

Aside from a fairly anti-climactic ending and a silly take on a bible-like story (which come to think of it, isn't really all that silly considering most in the 'good' book are downright goofy), Prince of Darkness is a fairly effective film. Some decent gore, loads of funny, head scratching situations (like why physicists and biochemists? why not mathematicians and historians? and did Apple make a program that deciphered ancient pseudo-Latin text back in 1987?), and some really effectively creepy and atmospheric moments.

But by far, the raddest scene in the film occurred when one of the biochemists tried to exit stage left and return home. He's met in an alley by everyone's favorite shock rocker extraordinaire, Alice Cooper. Alice plays a bit role as one of the derelicts who's come under the spell of the evil goop. He takes a discarded half of a cycling bike thats lying in the alley and impales the kid with the side that's missing a handle bar and front tire. Whoever was in charge of sound effects made his paycheck in just this scene alone. Blood spurts out the back side of the kid and he sqweakily rests right side up, the other end of the bike propping him up and making him look like a twisted ride at Disneyland.

Cortez the Killer


complaint department said...

My favorite part of Prince of Darkness is that it stars the dude from Simon and Simon. Not the bald mustachioed one, but the hunky blonde one. You know - "Simon".

PS, know what I have sitting at home in my DVD player? The Muppet Movie. It's fucking incredible.

Al Bruno III said...

I enjoyed this film quite a bit and I think I would describe it as having a Lovecraftian vibe.

Would you agree?

Also, great blog as always.

Cortez The Killer said...

Totally agreed. This film definitely had a Lovecraftian vibe especially in its telling of the origin of the book and the contents of the cylinder.

Thank you kindly good sir!