Prince of Darkness, Review by Case Wright


Speilberg had 1941, Lucas had Howard the Duck, and John Carpenter had Prince of Darkness. I’m not going to spend a whole review impugning the Master of Horror, BUT….this was really really really bad. When I was young, several months ago Pre-COVID (more on my COVID experience tomorrow- you’ll love it: there’s sweat, fever, explosive things, and I couldn’t smell any of it!) , I reviewed the Dracula mini-series and now Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter). You’re going to start thinking that I have a vampire fetish, but don’t worry Prince of Darkness not only does not have a Dracula figure; it’s unclear if it has much of anything going on at all. Imagine watching a movie called A Man Named John and John appeared briefly at the very end of the movie with no lines. You’d think that was really weird because you are a smart and discerning film consumer.

It starts out in Los Angeles in the 1980s, which looks like the LA of today, but it had MUCH less poop everywhere than today. Ahhh, progress. After the first 10 minutes of the film, I can tell you that: the Prince of Darkness is infact and evil alien who lives inside of a swirling Vitamix that looks alot the green juice they try sell me at the gym

– This is what the POD looked like for most of the film :

I always knew that the green juice smoothie was pure evil!!!

Jesus was also an alien and trapped the POD in the Vitamix above; furthermore, the Church was aware of it and kept it quiet in LA because they were Angels fans, a professor of physics at the local community college forced his physicist students to become Ghost Facers in exchange for a higher grade, and homeless people are murderers now.  I know these things because I got an expositioning that I shall never ever forget.  The students go to see the Eeeeeeevil Vitamix and get sprayed with evil juice and become really lazy zombies. This goes on for a LONG LONG time.  You’d think they’d just use tomato juice to get out the evil or some Shout, but maybe Shout wasn’t invented yet?

One of the physicists becomes possessed with POD and tries to reach into a mirror to release her more evil dad. Ok, why not? It’s a family affair, it’s a family affaaaaiiiirr.  Just as the evil is about to enter our world one of the physicists pushes the POD into the other dimension through the mirror taking her along with it. This was really dumb. Why not just shove the POD? She didn’t look very big. You’re also physicist; you could’ve made a lever or something. LAZY PHYSICIST!!! You never really got to know the POD or the physicists for that matter. It was like John Carpenter was willed an abandoned building and just wrote a script around that location because why waste a perfectly good abandoned building?! 

The biggest puzzle of all was why the main physicist quasi-hero couldn’t get his mustache to line up properly?  It’s like the left side of his mustache was trying to escape his face and was willing to leave the right side of the mustache behind- such a cowardly left-side mustache! 

 

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone will notice that I trim my mustache while tilting my head?

Thank you all! You get to learn about COVID tomorrow; it’s pretty pretty…. pretty… gross.

4 Shots For 4 John Carpenter Films: Halloween, The Fog, Christine, They Live


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

This October, we’ve been using 4 Shots from 4 Films to pay tribute to some of our favorite horror filmmakers!  Today, we honor the one and only John Carpenter!

4 Shots From 4 John Carpenter Films

Halloween (1977, dir by John Carpenter)

The Fog (1980, dir by John Carpenter)

Christine (1983, dir by John Carpenter)

They Live (1988, dir by John Carpenter)

 

Music Video of the Day: Night by John Carpenter (2015, dir by Gavin Hignight and Ben Verhulst


Okay, so it’s more cyberpunk than horror but ….

Listen, it’s John Carpenter.  As a month, October pretty much belongs to John Carpenter and there’s never a more appropriate time to share a music video for one of his songs.  Interestingly enough, Night is one of Carpenter’s rare compositions that is not also a part of a soundtrack.

It certainly sounds like it belongs in a movie though, right?

Enjoy!

4 Shots From 4 Donald Pleasence Films: Wake In Fright, The Mutations, Halloween, Phenomena


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we celebrate the life and career Donald Pleasence!  One of the greatest of all the horror icons, Pleasence was born 101 years ago today and that means that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Wake in Fright (1971, dir by Ted Kotcheff)

The Mutations (1974, dir by Jack Cardiff)

Halloween (1978, dir by John Carpenter)

Phenomena (1985, dir by Dario Argento)

Horror Scenes I Love: Dr. Loomis at Michael’s Board Review From Halloween


To go along with my review of Curtis Richards’s Halloween novelization, today’s scene that I love comes from the film Halloween …. kinda.  It wasn’t included in the theatrical release but, instead, it was later added when Halloween made it’s network television premiere.

Now, I’ve actually heard two stories about this scene.  One story is that it was shot during the filming of the original Halloween but that it was cut out of the theatrical release.  When Halloween premiered on television, the network needed some footage to pad out the running time so this scene was re-inserted.

The other version is that the scene was specifically filmed for the television version of the film.  According to this version, the scene was in an early version of the script but Carpenter didn’t film it until after Halloween had already had its theatrical release and was set to make it’s television debut.

(Personally, to me, the second version sounds more plausible.)

Regardless of when this scene was filmed, I like it quite a bit.  In this scene, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) attempts to get his colleagues to understand just how dangerous Michael Myers actually is.  This, of course, was a running theme for the character of Dr. Loomis and it has always amazed me that no one was ever willing to listen to him.  Loomis spent the last 30 years of his life telling people that Michael was an unstoppable killer.  Every single time, he was proven correct.  And yet no one ever listened to him!

This scene gives us a chance to see Dr. Loomis in a professional setting, as well as giving us a glance of an adolescent Michael at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.  “You’ve fooled them, Michael …. but not me.”

As someone who has seen all of the Halloween films multiple times, I have to say that Donald Pleasence’s performance as Dr. Loomis, especially in the first 2 films, has always been underrated.  Pleasence gave a convincing portrait of a man who had spent the last ten years of his life dealing with evil on a daily basis.  Who could blame him for being a bit fanatical?  Wouldn’t you be if you had spent that much time staring into Michael’s soulless eyes?

Blood River (1991, directed by Mel Damski)


In the old west, Jimmy Pearls (Ricky Schroder), a seemingly dissolute young man, kills the three men who he hold responsible for the murder of his parents.  Unfortunately for Jimmy, one of those men was the son of powerful rancher Henry Logan (John P. Ryan) and Logan is now determined to track down Jimmy and get some revenge of his own.

Jimmy only his one ally in his attempt to make it to safety and that’s Winston Culler (Wilford Brimley).  In his younger days, Culler was a legend.  He tamed the frontier and he lived with the Indians and everyone knew better than to get in his way.  Now, Winston is older and no one give him the respect that he deserves.  Winston allows Jimmy to stay with him but Winston has more than just Jimmy’s safety in mind.  Winston has his own reasons for wanting to get revenge on Logan and, despite their constant bickering, he and Jimmy are soon working as a team.

Adrienne Barbeau has a cameo as a madam and, while she’s always a welcome sight in any film, I imagine her casting has to do with the fact that this film was actually written by John Carpenter.  Yes, that John Carpenter!  Carpenter actually wrote the script for what would become Blood River in 1971.  When he wrote it, he pictured John Wayne as Winston and either Elvis Presley or Ron Howard as Jimmy.  (The Duke and Elvis in the same film?  That would have been something, regardless of how the film itself turned out.)  Carpenter sent copies of the script to both John Wayne and director Howard Hawks but neither one responded.  It would be 19 years before the script was finally filmed.

Blood River is an amiable western.  It was ultimately produced for television and it first aired on CBS.  Despite the fact that the film was originally written to be a theatrical film, it plays more like a pilot than a film.  You could imagine a weekly series featuring Winston and Jimmy riding from town to town and getting into adventures.  The plot is nothing special but Ricky Schroder and Wilford Brimley make for a good team.  Brimley is especially ornery, even for him.  Blood River may be a simple film but it will be appreciated by those looking for a likable and old-fashioned western.

Song of the Day: Desolation by Ennio Morricone


For today’s song of the day comes from Ennio Morricone’s score for John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing.  Desolation is an aptly named composition because this song capture the feel of isolation and paranoia that has made Carpenter’s film a classic.

Previous Entries In Our Tribute To Morricone:

  1. Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time In America)
  2. Violaznioe Violenza (Hitch-Hike)
  3. Come Un Madrigale (Four Flies on Grey Velvet)
  4. Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence)
  5. The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables)
  6. So Alone (What Have You Done To Solange?)
  7. The Main Theme From The Mission (The Mission)
  8. The Return (Days of Heaven)
  9. Man With A Harmonic (Once Upon A Time In The West)
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  11. The Main Theme From The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  12. Regan’s Theme (The Exorcist II: The Heretic)

Black Moon Rising (1986, directed by Harley Cokeliss)


The FBI needs someone to steal a computer disk that can bring down a corrupt Las Vegas corporation so they hire reformed thief Sam Quint (Tommy Lee Jones).  Quint manages to steal the disk but he finds himself being pursued by Ringer (Lee Ving), an old acquaintance who now works for the corporation.  In order to keep the disk from falling into Ringer’s hands, Quint hides it in the back bumper of an experimental racing car called the Black Moon.  The Black Moon, which runs on water and can fly when it reaches its top speed, is being taken to Los Angeles by Earl Windom (Richard Jaeckel) so Quint assumes that he’ll just follow Window to L.A. and then retrieve the disk when no one is watching.

However, as soon as the Black Moon arrives in Los Angeles, it’s stolen by Nina (Linda Hamilton).  Nina works for Ed Ryland (Robert Vaughn), an outwardly respectable businessman who secretly runs a syndicate of car thieves.  Now, Quint and Nina (who conventiently falls in love with Quint) have to steal the car back from Ryland while staying one step ahead of both Ringer and the FBI.

Black Moon Rising is not a movie that you watch for the plot or for the non-existent romantic chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton.  You don’t even watch it for the white collar villainy of Robert Vaughn, who basically just recycles his performance from Superman III.  This is a movie that you watch for the car!  The Black Moon is definitely an impressive vehicle.  Who wouldn’t want to steal one of these?

In a car chase movie like Black Moon Rising, the most important thing is that the car must be cool.  The Black Moon looks like something Mad Max would drive and it can actually fly so, by definition, it’s pretty cool.  Unfortunately, Black Moon Rising doesn’t spend as much time with the car as it should.  The movie gets bogged down with the scenes of Quint and Nina falling in love and Quint having to deal with his FBI handler (played by Bubba Smith).  This is a film that would have benefited from being directed by someone like Hal Needham, who understood that people don’t come to car chase movies for the plot.  They come to car chase movies because they want to see people driving fast and cars crashing in spectacular ways.  Still, even though the car isn’t onscreen as much as it should be, the car is still cool enough to make Black Moon Rising watchable.

One final note: the screenplay is credited to John Carpenter.  Though the imdb claims that this was the first script that Carpenter ever sold and that the film spent ten years in development, Carpenter says that he wrote the script around the same time that he made Escape from New York.  He also says that he’s never actually seen the completed film.