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    About This Item

    Unique ID Code: 0000037896
    Added by: DVD Reviewer
    Added on: 13/8/2002 12:35
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    Prince of Darkness (UK)

    7 / 10
    4 votes cast
    Rate this item
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    Before man walked the slept for centuries. It is evil. It is real. It is awakening
    Certificate: 18
    Running Time: 101 mins
    Retail Price: £15.99
    Release Date:

    When a group of graduate students and scientists discover an ancient canister containing an evil-looking liquid in an abandoned church, all hell breaks loose as the liquid seems to come alive and turns some members of the group into zombies, but even worse, it releases Satan.

    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary by Director John Carpenter

    Video Tracks:
    Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

    Audio Tracks:
    Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 English

    Directed By:
    John Carpenter

    Written By:

    Susan Blanchard
    Dennis Dun
    Lisa Blount
    Victor Wong
    Jameson Parker
    Donald Pleasence

    Casting By:
    Linda Francis

    Soundtrack By:
    Alan Howarth
    John Carpenter

    Director of Photography:
    Gary B. Kibbe

    Steve Mirkovich

    Production Designer:
    Daniel A. Lomino

    Larry J. Franco

    Executive Producer:
    Shep Gordon
    Andre Blay

    Momentum Pictures

    Your Opinions and Comments

    7 / 10

    Prince of Darkness opens with a lengthy credits sequence that introduces the main protagonists. The first of these, a priest named Loomis (ironically played by Donald Pleasance), has come into possession of a secret that threatens mankind's very existence. It is a secret that has been kept by the Catholic Church for over two thousand years. Housed in the basement of a derelict Los Angeles church, a mysterious canister of green fluid is host to the most terrible evil the world has ever known - the essence of Satan himself!

    In order to scientifically prove the existence of such evil, Loomis enlists the help of Howard Birack (played by Victor Wong), a professor at the University of Southern California. Birack is teaching a quantum uncertainty theory to a class of young scientists, all of who are persuaded to join Birack and Loomis on a top-secret "extra credit" field trip to the church. When the group arrives they immediately go about studying both the canister and an ancient book that may hold the key to its origins.

    However, unbeknownst to the young researchers, the long-dormant consciousness inside the canister has awoken and has begun to exert its influence over the outside world. At first the Prince of Darkness can only affect lower life-forms, but before long his power increases and one by one he begins to ensnare the scientists, turning them into mindless zombies driven by one desire - to free his father from the extra-dimensional prison that holds him.

    The film is full of scientific technobabble, mostly about the relationship between good and evil, and positive and negative particles. This is the metaphor Carpenter chooses to explain his Prince of Darkness. For each and every action there is a reaction, for each positive there is a negative, and, in the case of God, there is the anti-God. Unfortunately, the scientific theories that form the core of the plot are not explored as fully as one might hope, which makes for a slightly confusing film at times. Repeated viewings do clear up some of the questions, but you'll have to be on your toes if you want to get the most from this particular bit of cinema. Upon listening to the commentary it became apparent that Carpenter didn't really have too much of the back-story worked out, which really tells in certain scenes.

    The biggest failing is the way that the story deviates from is interesting beginnings. Towards the end, the film almost completely abandons psychological horror in favour of the more formulaic zombies coming to get you/things jumping out at you type of movie. If only Carpenter had stuck to his guns and explained some of the more fascinating plot elements, such as the dreams that are actually subliminal messages sent back through time, and the supposition that Jesus Christ was an alien being sent to warn us about the Anti-God, then this could have been something really special. One other area I found a little unconvincing was the romantic sub-plot between two of the students, played by Jameson Parker and Lisa Blount. The couple barely share any on-screen time before jumping into bed with one another and falling madly in love. I also thought the ending was a little bit of a cheap shot, but then it still made me jump! I don`t want to sound like I`m slating Prince of Darkness, far from it, but as the film progressed I did start to feel slightly confused and disappointed.


    Like most discs released by Momentum, Prince of Darkness features a pleasing transfer. Framed at 2.35:1 and anamorphically enhanced, the picture is generally very good. External shots feature bright, vibrant colours (with particularly lush greens in the opening scenes), while the darker interior shots are clear on the whole. This is especially important as the film progresses, as most of the action takes place in the gloomy confines of the church.

    If I had to criticise I would say that the picture is not as sharp as most new releases, and I also noticed a few instances of shimmering scenery. Still, this is yet another competent transfer from Momentum Pictures and one that greatly enhanced my viewing experience.


    Sound is provided courtesy of a functional Dolby 2.0 Stereo track. Obviously there`s nothing to report in the way of surround effects here, but this is predominantly a dialogue driven film so the importance of a full surround track is negligible. The all-important dialogue remains clear throughout, and the rest of the film's sound effects also come through nicely. Like many of Carpenter's movies, the score (which is provided by the man himself) is exceptionally well suited to the on screen events. Carpenter chooses to provide a subtle, understated score rather than over-scoring (or "Mickey Mousing" as he puts it in the commentary track). It makes for eerie listening and it reminds me of the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm Street in some respects.


    Supplements are limited, but the standout feature is definitely the commentary track from director Carpenter and actor Peter Jason. Although Jason is an odd choice for the track as he doesn't appear until half an hour into the film, and then only has a small role, he discusses many facets of the production and provides many amusing comments. Jason went on to collaborate with Carpenter on numerous projects after Prince of Darkness, so perhaps that explains why he was invited to join the director in this instance. The commentary is full of banter and subtle, good-natured jibes, and is definitely worth revisiting.

    The only other offering is a theatrical trailer, which is a little disappointing. Still, the commentary goes some way towards compensating for the relative lack of features, but I would have liked to see material that explored the premise of the film in greater detail.


    Yet another interesting and original film from John Carpenter, Prince of Darkness is certainly worthy of repeated viewings (and if you're anything like me you'll need to watch it more than once in order to make sense of some of the more involved plot elements). With some genuinely scary moments, as well as some interesting takes on the relationship between religion and science, this should offer something for both die hard horror fans and the casual viewer alike. Although the film does lose the plot towards the end (quite literally), the strong first half and thought provoking premise means that this still comes recommended. It`s a pity the disc is so barren; if only some additional features had been included to bolster the supplemental section it would have scored more highly. As it is, the excellent commentary track and nice audio/visual presentation go some way towards earning the disc a decent overall score.

    *Note* It`s recently been brought to my attention that this version of Prince of Darkness *may* be slightly censored for violent content. I have been unable to verify this myself, as I had not seen the film prior to this R2 DVD release.
    posted by Chris Gould on 21/12/2002 00:29
    7 / 10
    Prince Of Darkness was the second film in John Carpenter`s `Apocalypse Trilogy`, a series of films that in some way deal with the end of the world. The first was 1982`s The Thing and the last was 1995`s In The Mouth Of Madness.
    Prince Of Darkness is one of Carpenter`s best films. This film has some great moments and good scares. I feel it`s pretty underrated.

    The video quality is excellent throughout the film. The print does show it`s age a little but it doesn`t cause any problems.
    Another great transfer from Momentum Pictures. The sound is only in Stereo but it`s fuctional.

    We get a trailer that gives away much of the film`s plot and an audio commentary from director John Carpenter and actor Peter Jason. This is a pretty good track. The two seem to be good friends in real life and they reveal lots of interesting behind the scenes info. It`s also amusing to find out that even Carpenter doesn`t know some of the film`s most confusing parts ( He wrote the film under the name `Martin Quatermass` ).

    Overall, this a good horror film that deserves more attention. It`s at least worth renting.
    posted by dvd_man on 19/2/2003 09:38
    7 / 10
    It get`s cheesy at times, don`t the old enjoyable horror films from 50`s do aswell. It builds towards a shattering climax that is hard to forget. Carpenter makes use of Inventive camera angles and spine chilling music to good effect. The transfer is reasonable, though like `They Live` Momentum pictures can`t have been commited to providing a high bit rate to transfers, which admittidly are packaged as budget DVD`s
    posted by Richard73 on 1/12/2003 18:55