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Prince of Darkness

Entry updated 9 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1987). Alive. Directed by John Carpenter. Written by Martin Quatermass (Carpenter). Cast includes Lisa Blount, Jameson Parker, Donald Pleasence and Victor Wong. 101 minutes. Colour.

An old priest, guardian of a vat containing Satan as a green liquid, dies. Young physicists are brought to the derelict church by another worried priest (Pleasence) to analyse the strange powers here. The church is surrounded by bag ladies and vagrants (one being rock-star Alice Cooper) who kill anybody who leaves. Some of the scientists are possessed by Telekinetic jets of Satan-liquid, and Anti-God attempts to manifest Himself through a mirror.

Carpenter's worst film, resembling a first draft rather than a finished product, inept and barely coherent, Prince of Darkness nevertheless has points of considerable interest. Often an apparent sf film turns out to be Horror; this is an apparent horror film that turns out to be sf. (Carpenter's screenwriter pseudonym, Quatermass, is in clear homage to Nigel Kneale, whose scriptwriting speciality has been to rationalize supernatural forces in scientific terms.) The ambitious but confused script evokes Gödel and Schrödinger in the first few minutes, explains Precognition as Tachyon messages from the future, solemnly broods on indeterminacy and the spiritual inferences to be drawn from quantum mechanics, and appears to see the Anti-God as theological Antimatter present from the beginning, which is in fact a form of the Manichean heresy. [PN]


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