Friday, May 22, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Prince of Darkness (1987)

Prince of Darkness is one of horror maestro John Carpenter's most underrated fright flicks, which is a bit surprising to me as I feel that it is easily his most terrifying movie.  It isn't a big budget affair, but that doesn't lessen the impact of this nightmarish battle between good and evil.  The cast is game, the effects are solid, and the plot is gripping.  The movie slowly unfolds, steadily growing in intensity on the way to a hellish crescendo, and the final frame is one of Carpenter's finest moments.  The picture may not boast as many jump scares as the legendary director's biggest hits do, and the sinister nature of Prince of Darkness doesn't really allow for much in the way of his trademark wit, but this one does do everything possible to get under your skin.  In that regard, it is incredibly successful, and there are a number of scenes that will stick with you long after you're done watching it.  The nightmare sequences are particularly noteworthy, striking a surreal tone that is brimming with dread and terror.  The score is another gem from this superb director and composer, and it's nothing if not appropriate for the material.  It's a bit subdued and it builds slowly, drawing the viewer into a stark web of terror--just like the film itself.  Donald Pleasence hams it up a bit as a weary priest, but he's terrific as always and his boisterous performance is a welcome presence in this grim affair.  Jameson Parker does a fine job as the lead, and while he doesn't necessarily light up the screen, it certainly seems as though he warranted more attention from the industry.  Alice Cooper is on hand for a nice part that's really more of a cameo, and Dennis Dun (who killed it as Wang in Carpenter's beloved cult classic Big Trouble in Little China) is also a joy to watch in Prince of Darkness.  There's a scene where he loses his shit that stands as one of my favorite Carpenter moments, and I'm a bit of a Carpenter devotee*.  If you somehow missed this one, don't fret, you're not alone.  However, if you're a fan of the spooky stuff, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  It's not my favorite John Carpenter film, but it's a damn fine motion picture that will scare the hell out of you.

Final Grade: A+

*But you already knew that.  If you didn't, you must have missed these blogs:
Top 5 John Carpenter Films
Top 5 Main Themes from John Carpenter Films

Prince of Darkness isn't my favorite John Carpenter movie,
but it is his most frightening motion picture.

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