Prince of Darkness

1987, Horror, 1h 42m

36 Reviews 10,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Prince of Darkness has a handful of chillingly clever ideas, but they aren't enough to put John Carpenter's return to horror at the same level as his classic earlier outings. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Poking around in a church cellar, a priest (Donald Pleasence) finds an otherworldly vial filled with slime. Frightened, he brings his discovery to a circle of top scholars and scientists, who eventually learn that the strange liquid is the essence of Satan. The slime then begins to seep out, turning some of the academics into zombified killers. As the possessed battle the survivors, student Kelly (Susan Blanchard) is infected by a large quantity of the liquid and becomes Satan personified.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Prince of Darkness

Audience Reviews for Prince of Darkness

  • Oct 10, 2021
    An awesome score by the moody synth maestro introduces us to another 80's banger with John Carpenter taking on the subject of evil incarnate (or Satan, the devil, the Prince of Darkness, Schrödinger's cat, antimatter, ... yada yada yada (shit, my common sense just broke down). My enjoyment of Carpenter's work is basically a sliding scale that edges up pre-The Thing, his best work and my favorite movie of all time, and then starts slowly going in the wrong direction. Don't get me wrong, I really dig Christine, Big Trouble in Little China, Starman, They Live, and more. But Prince of Darkness is where his work started becoming more inconsistent and flawed, at least for me. Donald Pleasance was decent in Halloween but was horrible here. The way he delivered his lines was like he got whacked in the head and was sent back to remedial acting school. The script and explanation makes no dame sense, just like quantum physics and that opening quote. There's a brief description in this article that has all kind of spoilers, but it kind of helps pull the Scientology-like origin story together. The film's shortcomings in dialogue, acting and plot absurdities are mostly made up by the plethora of fantastically staged scenes and practical effects. The swirling green liquid in a container, which apparently contains Satan, is absolutely hypnotizing to look at. How the hell did Carpenter create that? Leave me a comment if you know -- Google was no help. Casting Alice Cooper was ingenious. If anybody could be a homeless zombie leader, it's Cooper. Apparently the producer for this was also Cooper's agent as well. And the "impaler" he used to take out one dude in an alley was what he used in his shows. This is the second film of The Apocalypse trilogy that started with The Thing and wrapped up with In the Mouth of Madness. This is still peak JC, even if he started getting rough around the edges.
    Mark B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2018
    This has GOT to be John Carpenters worst film ever. The story isn't about Dracula, but satan or some other ancient evil force. The premise is very thin, a priest (Donald Pleasance doing a parody of Donald Pleasance) warns a bunch of scientists and college grad students that an evil green liquid or plasma found in the basement a 500 year old church is going to do something, or become something. This movie is endlessly talky, with some of the worst dialogue I've ever heard survive a final edit. The acting is so-so, but the characters have nothing to do but stare at random numbers on computer screens(ancient evil math!) and work on latin translations. I'm serious when I say this is the laziest attempt to make a movie by an actual, professional director that I've ever seen. Almost zero special effects, save for some worms, bugs and a woman decomposing. It's mostly people vomiting into each other's mouths and people being killed while offering little defense. One man is run clean through his torso by half a bicycle. Um, huh? Watch this one for laughs only. Nothing wrong with Alive Cooper's appearance, you may never notice if you didn't know that he was in it. He's the least of this disaster's problems. Oh, and I am a DIEHARD John Carpenter fan! Halloween is still #1 all-time greatest horror movie, certainly slasher movie. I enjoyed Halloween II and III, and I love the Fog and The Thing. I don't mind They Live and Escape from New York, Assault on P13 and Starman. All good movies. This one is surprisingly low-budget and low quality.
    Mark H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2014
    Yet, another very overlooked Carpenter flick, Prince of Darkness breathes Carpenter through and through. The cast is hardly likeable, much like The Thing but you understand what brought them together and what are the stakes. The story is a wonderful blend of sci-fi and horror thriller, that could've crumbled onto cheesy territory but holds it's ground by presenting some nice atmosphere, surreal imagery and good gory bits. The dialogue is sharp and incisive making this a worthy satanic ride to take.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2013
    A priest discovers the essence of evil buried in a vault underneath a Los Angeles church, and a team of professors and grad students set out to study it. Like a lot of John Carpenter's late horror movies, this one frequently weaves back and forth across the thin line that separates intriguing from goofy.
    Greg S Super Reviewer

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