Friday, August 26, 2011
PRINCE OF DARKNESS
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (JOHN CARPENTER'S PRINCE OF DARKNESS) (1987)
Directed by John Carpenter
Jameson Parker - Brian Marsh
Lisa Blount - Catherine Danforth
Victor Wong - Prof. Howard Birack
A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world.
As I am running out of time for this month to post reviews based around Lovecraft's Mythos, I decided to revisit a old favorite that I haven't seen in a while (yes, another one). While this one is more on the fringe of a religious movie, there is enough there to consider it a shoe-in for this month. So, with out further ado, here's the review for Prince Of Darkness, the second movie of Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy".
I'm going to start with the actors in this film. Jameson Parker plays Brian in the film and is the star of it as well. He plays his character who is basically lost and has a crisis of faith when what he believed to be truth is shattered when he agrees to help with a research project. Parker's character is a man of science and his beliefs, and of those around him, are turned inside out when faced with a power outside of science they are capable of. Parker does a good job of trying to wrap his head around something that is confusing his character and make it believable. Victor Wong is just a joy to watch in this as Prof. Howard Birack who brings his class of metaphysics students to a abandoned church to study a ancient cylinder. To me Wong just brings a sense of fun and credibility to all the roles he plays, as yes, he does overact but it's not insane overacting. Now I know people are going to disagree with me on this, but I really didn't like Donald Pleasence in this movie. I really can't say if it was his acting or his character. It's just that something there just didn't really click which made the character seem out of place.
The story for the film is what I enjoyed the most as it is a throwback to the Quatermass style stories from Hammer Films in the '60s where super science is in conflict with the supernatural. What is interesting about it is that it brings in religion in way where it is questioned what the Vatican has told people to keep them comfortable and away from what is actual truth. The actual truth in the movie is that while it is supposedly Satan in the container, its purpose is to bring about it's true father, which is a greater evil from a different plane of existence. Why this interesting is that according to the Bible, God is the father is Satan. So following this line of thought in the film, it brings up what we think of power and what we find comfortable and safe in not knowing the truth. Yes, the film can be called blasphemous, or me, for writing this, it puts the notion that there are Older Gods out there. Also the movie basically makes Jesus just a a super scientist and even says so as he was killed to keep the truth hidden, but after he wrote down equations that could only be solved once science was capable to solve the problem.
While the film isn't really scary per say, it encourages the viewer to think as the film is plot heavy with most of the explanations come from conversations between the characters but thankfully this doesn't explain everything as a lot is left up to the viewer to decide, specially the more theological questions. The only real drawback to the movie is that the movie does slow down toward the end, as well as Pleasence's character is overly annoying and the final fight in it is ruined by a too simple solution. Though the true end of the film is open ended, which Carpenter likes to do in his films. The film is more creepy than pure horror which works in the films favor. The actors all do a decent to good job, and this is coupled with a slightly weird camera effect work to make this one stand out among other Mythos films.
Actor Thom Bray's perforating bicycle encounter thanks to Alice Cooper.
This is not a dream... not a dream. We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation.
John Carpenter in his screenwriter credit for the film is credited as "Martin Quatermass". The pseudonym is a homage to Professor Bernard Quatermass, the lead character of Quatermass And The Pit, and The Quatermass Xperiment among other films and TV series. In the original press notes he was described as 'the brother of Professor Bernard Quatermass, head of the British rocket programme.'
John Carpenter independently made the film since Escape From New York due to his frustration with Hollywood studios, but also due to the box office failure of Big Trouble In Little China the year before.
The film was shot through a slightly anamorphic lens, giving a subtle distortion to every scene.
This is the second of Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy". In order they are:
The Thing (1982)
Prince Of Darkness (1987)
In The Mouth Of Madness (1994)