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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - Prince of Darkness

By Adam Ruhl



Almost all of John Carpenter’s films after Halloween have met with tepid critical reaction on release and often only so-so box office. The real judge of a John Carpenter movie is time. In the decades since their release, films like Big Trouble in Little China and They Live have become popular genre films embraced by a generation. The Thing, much like Blade Runner, has become a smash hit years after it was first in theaters (fun fact: they opened the same day). Other films, like The Fog and Prince of Darkness continue to wait for a cult following to really embrace them. Perhaps that will happen now with this wonderful new Scream Factory Collector’s Edition of Prince of Darkness, let’s take a look.

 

Prince of Darkness
 
The Film:
A priest (Donald Pleasance) finds a large glass cylinder filled with unholy green goo in the basement of an abandoned church. When indications suggest it’s something evil, he invites a professor (Victor Wong) and his grad students to come and study it. Before too long the church is surrounded with murderous homeless people (one of which is Alice Cooper) and the grad students are being possessed by green evil goo. The closest thing Darkness has to main protagonists are a couple of the students, Catherine (Lisa Blount) and Brian (Jameson Parker, sporting one of the finest moustaches I have ever seen).

Prince of Darkness makes up the second entry in what John Carpenter calls his ‘Apocalypse Trilogy’ along with The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness (Hey Scream Factory, Mouth of Madness really deserves your CE treatment!). It is an all-star game of Carpenter players with Donald Pleasance from Halloween, Peter Jason who would return in They Live and In the Mouth of Madness, and Victor Wong and Dennis Dun, both from Big Trouble in Little China (Dennis Dun, come back to genre films, we miss you).

I have to say that of all of Carpenter’s movies Darkness feels stylistically closest to The Fog. Both of them feature an ensemble cast with multiple storylines all impacted by a common supernatural force. Both feature a lot of long takes with persistent soundtrack to build atmosphere. Unfortunately, both films also suffer somewhat from a lack of focus and were poorly received on their release.  



The Disc:
The transfer is beautiful; Darkness has been very well preserved with full grain and surprisingly crisp colors. Honestly, if not for the dated fashion sense this could be a new movie. There is the familiar picture distortion from Carpenter using anamorphic widescreen, but that is an in-camera element and not from the transfer.

Bonus features on this Collector’s Edition are a little sparse with just a couple of interviews, alternate opening, trailer, and a few others to round it out.  I think it might be the smallest amount of material for any of the Scream Factory Collector’s Editions. On the other hand the cover artwork is a brilliant piece by Justin Osbourne. It’s stark and creepy and also highlights Jameson Parker’s wonderful moustache.

The Features:
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter
  • New Interviews with John Carpenter, Alice Cooper, and Robert Grasmere
  • Hell On Earth – A look at the film’s score with co-composer Alan Howarth
  • Alternate Opening from TV version
  • Still Gallery
  • Horror’s Hallowed Ground
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Specs:
  • 1080p Hi-Def widescreen 2.35:1
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • English-only Audio & Subtitles
  • Original Release: 1987
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rated R


Final Grades:
Story: B- / A bit plodding, with elements of religion and physics roughly stitched together.
Presentation quality: A / Never looked better.
Scare factor: C / Anti-Christ as green goo.
Gore Factor: C / Very little onscreen gore.
Repeat view-ability: D / Worth seeing and collecting to round out your Carpenter collection, but I find this one of the harder of his to get through.  


Add Prince of Darkness to your collection, click HERE!

Check out yesterday's Scream Factory review, Day of the Dead!

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