Fright Fest Review #24: Prince of Darkness (1987)

Vat Out of Hell
Vat Out of Hell

Subgenre:  Devil

Summary:  A priest discovers an ancient canister in an abandoned church, one that may contain Satan himself.

Review:  Upon finding said canister, the priest asks a local professor and his students to analyze the strange liquid inside and translate the accompanying ancient text.  After the students set up their equipment, they soon find themselves under the liquid’s malevolent influence.  As it turns out, the liquid is both alive and conscious, with a plan to use the students to bring its father, the “Anti-God,” into the real world.

Yes, it’s a pretty silly plot, but the execution (or at least some of it) is well done.  John Carpenter’s premise and characters allow for an interesting dichotomy between science and religion, one that suggests the two are less incompatible than one might think.  Unfortunately, Prince of Darkness wastes this setup and turns into a generic possession movie for most of its second half, with the protagonists running away from those “infected” by the liquid.  Still, the movie makes a minor recovery in its final ten minutes, which feature a visually interesting final showdown as well as a creepily ambiguous ending.

The Verdict:  It has its fair share of flaws, but Prince of Darkness is still more original and inventive than your average horror movie.  I give it six seeping satanic solutions out of ten.

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