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Prince of Darkness Review [1987]: Another Insidious Classic from The Horror Master

Pervaded with an air of mystery & sense of foreboding from the very beginning, the second instalment in John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy blends the elements of quantum physics & religion into one goofy yet thrilling supernatural horror, and is well-worthy of its cult following.

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The second instalment in John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, Prince of Darkness finds the legendary filmmaker blending the elements of quantum physics & religion into one atmospheric horror that’s not only gripping, entertaining & suspenseful but goofy as well.




The story of Prince of Darkness takes place inside an abandoned church where a research team is invited by a priest to investigate an old secret that has been kept there for many years. As the team conduct their experiments, they realise that it’s something far more sinister than they imagined.

Written & directed by John Carpenter (best known for Halloween & The Thing), an air of mystery & sense of foreboding pervades the story from the very beginning as Carpenter establishes a disquieting atmosphere almost instantly with his haunting score & snippets of moments that accompany the opening credit sequence.

The premise set up & tension build up is real quick and once the main plot surfaces, Carpenter slowly ratchets up the tension while retaining the mystery and conjures up some terrific chills. Characters aren’t fully fleshed and have nothing to make us invest in their predicament but thanks to its dreadful aura, the interest is never lost.

The isolated setting surrounded by a growing mass of homeless people only helps in amplifying its chilling ambience. Camera is expertly manoeuvred throughout the film, using different techniques & sources to add a distorting vibe to its images. Its 101 minutes runtime is steadily paced but the story would’ve benefitted from a few trims.

Coming to the performances, the cast consists of mostly those who have worked with the director before and they all chip in with serviceable inputs, if not more. Another aspect worthy of a mention is the film’s thrilling score, composed by Carpenter himself, for those synth-heavy tracks add an eeriness to its already dark, menacing & ominous mood.




 

On an overall scale, Prince of Darkness is another insidious feature from The Horror Master that may appear a bit dated today but its taut atmosphere & interesting story will manage to keep most viewers around until the end. John Carpenter’s attempts to experiment with the genre and do something differently from the norm never fails to impress and for the uncanny experience his film has in store, Prince of Darkness is well-worthy of its cult following.

★★★½




 

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