I was super excited when I saw that this was a Joh Carpenter film. I am a big fan of his work with a few notable exceptions *cough* Ghosts of Mars *cough*. Even better was that I didn’t actually know anything about the movie. I think in my head I kept confusing Prince of Darkness with another late 80s horror movie, Warlock. Anyone who has seen both of those movies will understand that I was initially quite confused about what was going on. If I’m being honest, even when I realized my stupid mistake, the confusion was not noticeably lessened.
The main premise of the movie revolves around a team of scientists, grad students, and a priest that are studying an ancient relic that houses the green, goopy remains of Satan. The group of them attempt to throw science at the container while a bunch of homeless people stand menacingly outside. Turns out that you can’t really science the Devil and the evil Ecto-Cooler leaks out and if you drink it you get possessed and won’t stop talking about things only 90s kids will remember. As one might imagine, hijinks ensue including a scene where Alice Cooper impales a nerd with one half of a bike. Also it turns out that Lucifer is actually just the child of a bigger, badder creature that is like the Anti-God and that’s who originally put him in the container in the first place. And Jesus was an alien scientist that came to warn us about this whole thing and then the disciples decided to lock it away until science could figure out a way to, I guess, laser beam Beelzebub to additional death.
Occasionally you will read a story or watch a movie and you will know that the only reason it exists is because the author just read something about a topic and they got super excited about it. Like you’re reading a Stephen King book and all of a sudden we need an entire chapter devoted to how the skinning and tanning of leather works and you know it’s because he just read a book on it and was geeking out. This movie feels like someone just told John Carpenter about theoretical physics and quantum mechanics and he lost his goddamn mind over it. The whole movie spend a lot of time worrying about evil as a particle and how every atom has its opposite and so if there is a god there has to be an anti-god and so on. Unfortunately, the technobabble never gets deeper than a cursory glossing over of concepts but still at least manages to be interesting.
The main issue in the movie is really the pacing of it. For a movie that is ostensibly about the resurrection of the Father of Lies into the world, it spends a good hour on hanging out with some students while they chat about vaguely scientific things. Also we get this terrible love plot between the two main students where they start as knowing nothing about each other aside from being in the same class and then have one conversation where the guy ends up being a total sexist d-bag (which she even calls him on). We then cut immediately from that conversation to them waking up together and totally in a relationship. Also for all the talk of needing better science to take out the Morning Star, he ends up getting stopped by a lady and an axe so, pssshh, whatever Jesus. Science is for nerds.
While I have been seemingly very harsh on this film, Carpenter does still do a good job of keeping things interesting in scene and steadily ramping the tension. There are also a few great practical effects as well as a few cheap ones that still looked good. Overall I’d give the movie a 3 out of 5 and recommend watching if just for how very different it is from most other movies that deal with the Author of All Sin.
Favorite part of the movie: There is a scene with a guy covered in beetles and it’s probably the best creepy shot of the whole thing.
Least favorite part: The relationship story was such a load of shit and everything about it was stupid.