As Scream Factory moves through the works of John Carpenter, they reach one of his most cerebral movies of the 1980s. "Prince of Darkness" doesn't immediately come to mind when people think about the legendary filmmaker. It's virtually forgotten to all except true fanatics of the horror mastermind. A new Blu-ray Collector's Edition aims to change that by attracting a new audience to it and giving long-time fans a high-resolution version of the classic.
A priest (Donald Pleasance) and a scientist (Victor Wong) join forces in order to find a way to stop a mysterious evil from entering the world. The two must find a way to overcome their differences in beliefs in order to save the world from the coming apocalypse. A horde of possessed homeless people and their associates stand in their way.
"Prince of Darkness" dares to tread in dangerous territory. Director/Writer John Carpenter (penning the script under the pseudonym Martin Quartermass) blends together science and religion, knowing full well this is sure to offend zealots on both sides of the fence. It's no surprise the movie didn't garner the sort of widespread notoriety and acclaim Carpenter's "Halloween" did. Things tend to get uncomfortable when Christians and atheists compare and contrast the Bible with theoretical physics and atomic theory.
As a Christian myself, I find the subject matter of "Prince of Darkness" interesting yet flawed. I still think it's a lot of scientific hooey and mumbo-jumbo, but appreciate the fact that Carpenter's trying something outside of the box. Most Christians will no doubt be offended by some of the concepts presented in the film.
I hadn't seen "Prince of Darkness" in probably 20 years when I popped it into my Blu-ray player. There was a lot more moving around than I remembered. For some reason, I thought most of the action occurred in the main room where the container of liquid evil is kept. In fact, quite a bit of the film takes place in different parts of the abandoned church and outside. It was much better than I recalled it being.
Carpenter brings along Donald Pleasance to add that bit of class and professionalism the actor is known for. He plays the priest who will do anything he has to in order to keep the evil at bay and avoid the apocalypse. Alice Cooper portrays the leader of a possessed horde of homeless people who have gathered outside the church in anticipation of the coming of the Anti-God. Jameson Parker ("Simon & Simon") and Victor Wong ("Big Trouble in Little China") round out the cast.
"Prince of Darkness" is rated R for graphic violence, language, and adult situations. Strangely for horror movies of the 1980s, there's no nudity to be found. Anyone who grew up watching genre films through that decade knows exactly what I'm talking about. There had to be at least one nude scene to make it a legitimate horror movie.
One of the things I love about the Scream Factory Blu-ray transfers is that they clean up the picture without draining it of its "real film" flavor. You still know you're watching a 1980s movie, but it's easier on the eyes. The 5.1 surround mix expands the viewing experience by immersing the audience in Carpenter's musical score and the eerie environmental sounds and noises accompanying it.
The "Prince of Darkness" Collector's Edition Blu-ray comes with special features that will thrill horror fanatics. Audio commentary is provided by Director John Carpenter. It also contains revealing new interviews with Carpenter and Alice Cooper. A theatrical trailer is included as well.
Any fan of John Carpenter is going to want to pick up the "Prince of Darkness" Collector's Edition. It's an essential piece for any horror aficionado's home entertainment library. Although I don't support or buy into the film's theories, credit must once again be given to Carpenter for his attempt at creating something unique within a genre that many times plays it safe.
"Prince of Darkness" Collector's Edition is available now on Blu-ray.