Prince of Darkness (1987 film) Retrospective…

Prince of Darkness (1987 film) Retrospective after the break…

Prince of Darkness (1987 film) Retrospective…

Why is this not a “review”? Because, quite honestly, I can’t “review” this film in the classical sense. This is a film that has aged so badly that a clinical review just would not be fair. Therefore, it would make more sense to categorize this as a retrospective.

To clue people in on the plot: A recently vacated urban church has a vast underground basement that holds a  secret – It contains a liquid substance that is physically evil. A group of scientists are convinced by a priest to try to analyze the substance. The evil, though, is leaking through it’s container and is convincing the local homeless (as well as the legion of insects nearby) through mind control to ensure that no one leaves the church alive. Is the end times upon us?

Believe it or not, the premise is actually quite intriguing despite how badly the film has aged. Unfortunately, the premise only holds up until you hit upon the notion that the enemy is a batch of swirling green kool-aid. Yup – It’s not goo or slime but an actual watery liquid. To try to distract you from the fact that our villain best resides in a punch bowl, the simple-minded proto-zombie homeless bring the actual knives and sharp objects against our protagonists. Of course, the proto-zombie homeless are on the outside of the church; To ratchet up the suspense, the evil kool-aid being can squirt itself into the mouths of unsuspecting scientists inside the church, causing them to also turn into proto-zombies. Finally, if all of this doesn’t give you the chill, there’s always the cheap scare of creepy, crawly insects traveling on human bodies in places that they shouldn’t (no, not THERE… Despite the R-rating, you’ll have to get your pr0n from someplace else).

The film was made in 1987, long before AT&T and Verizon were beating each other senseless in advertisements exclaiming just how large their carrier networks are for their cellphone service. Therefore, try hard not to snicker when our protagonists find themselves trapped in an urban setting with no way to communicate with the outside world. Just imagine how different this movie would’ve been in modern times…

PROTAGONIST #1: We’re trapped by shambling proto-zombie homeless people outside!

PROTAGONIST #2: Relax, let me just dial up the police on my cellphone…

End of movie.

Of course, knowing screenwriters, I’m sure that, somehow, the evil green kool-aid would’ve been able to knock out satellite communications or some other such silly nonsense. However, how come not a single person thought of trying to get to the roof and signaling from help there? You’re in a city!

Anyway, one aspect of this film that I really liked was the Brotherhood of Sleep concept where everyone who slept in the church had the same dream. There’s a dream that’s slowly revealed (that could be a high-tech message from the futuristic year of… 1999!) where perhaps the evil kool-aid has won… Or has it? I actually liked this whole idea and it was legitimately one of the better ideas of the movie. If they had developed it and turned it more into the central focus of the movie rather then a throwaway gimmick, it could’ve nullified a lot of the outdated silliness that they had to rely upon. Imagine, if you will, the plot is changed to a bunch of renovators living in the church while the renovate it and they all get different aspects of the same dream and must piece together the dream before it’s too late… But I digress.

The ending of the film really deflates any remaining suspense and gives a lot of “WTF” moments: For some reason, the liquid must enter a designated person, that person changes into a melty-zombish thingy that must then pull some really evil humanoidish thing out of a mirror (yes, you read all of that right) and then humanity is destroyed. I’m not sure when all of this is explained but, if the Brotherhood of Sleep knew about this, why did they keep mirrors in the church… At all? They were the ones who kept the sacred book that was written in all of these olde languages that hardly anyone used. And why didn’t they have a successor? And what would’ve happened if the lady who became the zombie-designate couldn’t find a big enough mirror? Would she have ordered one of the proto-zombie homeless people to get her one? One of the possessed scientists?

The more I think about this movie, the less it makes sense and the less it scares me. In fact, the more I think about this movie, the more I realize that the only genuine “horror” came from insects crawling all over people. There’s your genuine horror moment: Insects. In fact, when evil is finally dispelled, the proto-zombie homeless people simply walk away. Boom. Just like that. The possessed scientists all die but the homeless? Nope. Back to drinking cheap beer under the bridge and collecting soda cans from trash bins. It would’ve been cool if they had also met some fate as well.

Anyway, this is one movie that was neat for it’s time but simply has not aged well at all. Perhaps John Carpenter would craft a remake of this movie that might close up some plot holes and modernize it a little more.

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