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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.96%
Worth A Look46.3%
Average: 5.56%
Pretty Bad: 24.07%
Total Crap: 11.11%

4 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Prince of Darkness
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by Scott Weinberg

"The only true horror on display here is the wretched screenplay."
2 stars

Before Prince of Darkness, all of John Carpenter's films had either been critically acclaimed OR financially successful. This movie essentially killed both of those birds with one stone. While Prince of Darkness offers a few random 'money shots' for the horror fans, the movie is sunk by having the pace of a snail, an annoying amount of meaningless dialogue and actors so wooden you can smell sap.

The most interesting and noteworthy thing about this movie is that is was made by a talented and competent director, and yet it never once even approaches making sense. Prince of Darkness has a goobledygook to dialogue ratio of about 300: 1. There are lots of priests and scientists who just sit around and say things that are so absolutely non-sensical that I'm surprised there wasn't a lot more muffled giggling. I would wager that what you and I would consider "meaningless and intentionally obtuse psychobabble" makes up easily 75% of the script. To quote one of the background characters, right before he is stabbed by Alice Cooper (!) about 34 times: "You guys are staying? This is all KA-KA!" (I swear he says KA-KA!)

All of that could be forgiven if at least the horror story itself were any good. But except for a few choice scenes, Carpenter is surprisingly flat here. According to this movie, Jesus was a conspirator who helped his followers bottle up Satan's son into this big canister. Then the canister was entrusted to a secret sect of priests. (This is all in the movie and I am not making it up.) The canister is discovered in an abandoned L.A. church, and a small army of really boring people show up to examine it. The body count ensues.

Apparently the canister can spray devil water into the open mouths of its screaming victims, thereby making them devil zombies. Then the devil zombies spit into the mouths of the dull humans and then there's more devil zombies. The dwindling survivors also have to contend with an army of zombie homeless outside and clumps of roaches and worms. (Again, I am not making this up.)

It pains me sincerely to say all this, as I rank John Carpenter as perhaps my favorite movie director. But the honest truth is that this movie pretty much just stinks. It's obvious the studio had a mess on their hands before they hit the editing room, and that process probably didn't help much either. The pacing is all off for this type of 'haunted-house' thriller, and the acting approaches atrocious at nearly every turn.

The script is really to blame here, because it's just plain dumb. For example, there's a scene in this movie where a scientist has somehow tapped in to the satanic spirit (on her computer) and this is what the devil types out on her monitor: "The Holy Ghost will not save you. The God Plutonium will not save you. In fact, nothing will save you." Yawn. That's supposed to be a creepy message from Satan? Please. (Something like "Pauly Shore, Carrot-Top and Harlan Williams to star in The Chippendale's Movie" would have been scarier.) The really funny thing is that this satanic email has no meaning or bearing on the movie at all! It's just weird.

While there are enough components to keep the movie going, they are pretty much few and far between. Scenes that start out creepy and exciting usually just end up silly. Action (or gore) sequences are constantly interrupted by scenes of the incessant script babblings and religious whining. (Especially guilty of this is the eponymous and annoying Donald Pleasance as an overemoting priest. He's easily the funniest thing in this movie, which is not a comedy by the way.)

Although not completely unwatchable, I can recommend Prince of Darkness only to hardcore Carpenter fans, and even then only a little. The movie earns its 2-star rating thanks solely to a creepy subplot involving precognitive dreams being transmitted to our heroes from an unnamed source in the future. (I swear I'm not making this up.)

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originally posted: 04/16/00 18:34:11
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User Comments

9/25/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS 1 stars
2/21/17 morris campbell one carpenters worst unscary boring crap 1 stars
10/19/11 AMflxguy Unusual, scary, even nightmarish. Excellent 5 stars
12/23/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Turning the Christian cornerstone inside-out makes this an extremely creepy flick. 4 stars
8/09/09 Zac Wow, you really didn't get this movie. 4 stars
3/16/09 Shift worker Not a great effort from a genius director 2 stars
12/04/08 Shaun Wallner Kept me on the edge of the seat! 4 stars
9/01/07 Dale M Good Premise and freaky at times, but the story is really underdeveloped. 4 stars
5/22/06 Mike Underrated -- some bad acting/dialogue, but great, scary concepts. 5 stars
8/25/05 Copper Another of John Carpenter's many embarassments. 1 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson Lots of slow spots, acting is weak, but a cool idea and J. Carpenter still has it. Not bad. 4 stars
8/28/04 Al Guy Compared to the modern crap - this is a gem! 4 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Underrated. Sure better than most other horror movies 4 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Passable fair for Carpenter. 3 stars
12/04/03 john creepy and atmospheric - the cast could be better except for Pleasance 4 stars
11/08/03 Nelson This movie is great, old but nice, I agree JC can do a lot better, but stills is great 5 stars
4/14/03 Kyle Carpenter can do better. 3 stars
3/19/03 Jack Sommersby Godawfully silly horror flick. Paper-thin material executed with flair of a cap gun. 1 stars
11/26/02 Deborah S. Hay i couldn't look in a mirror for days after watching "prince of darkness"!! 5 stars
10/15/02 Scott Blackerby This Movie is Underrated! It is a Great flick!!! 5 stars
9/22/02 kawar shah its ok set in a creepy atmosphere 3 stars
9/15/02 Mac Among Carpenter's worst. A waste of time. 1 stars
6/19/02 Charles Tatum Campy, with some great scenes 4 stars
3/24/02 Katie one of the scariest movies of all time - Carpenter is a legend 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Who the fuck are these actors? Besides the dudes from BTILC...Scary Carpenter flick though. 4 stars
7/05/01 sebastion dillinger the creepiest thing is that it is relatively scientifically sound. 4 stars
5/24/01 Keith Galantowicz Not worth wasting an hour and forty-five minutes! 1 stars
12/02/00 Mike It was better in 1987 when I was a teenager 4 stars
8/29/00 Thor You've gotta just lay back and get into it, man! 4 stars
6/20/00 Ulatekk Great flick! Many quality kills! 5 stars
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  23-Oct-1987 (R)



Directed by
  John Carpenter

Written by
  John Carpenter

  Donald Pleasance
  Jameson Parker
  Victor Wong
  Lisa Blount
  Dennis Dun

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