Tag Archives: prince of darkness

2. Prince of Darkness: A Study of Science

Combining stories of supernatural horror with science is not uncommon. Authors like Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy and Dan Brown has come to define the term “techno thriller”, suspense stories with focus on the element of scientific discourse, in order to increase the suspension of disbelief. Which is always appreciated. I mean, if we are invested in a good book or a great film, any detail supporting the suspension of disbelief is welcomed with open arms!

Prince of Darkness from 1987 is trying to incorporate scientific themes and thoughts into a supernatural movie about religious myths mostly connected to the Anti-Christ. The embodiment of evil (the “Anti-God”, the actual father of Satan) in this case, is represented by a canister containing a living green substance. It’s found in an ancient church, locked away by a secret society. A group of scientists are sent there to study this finding before it can be revealed to the world.

https://i1.wp.com/www.liveforfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/princeofdarkness.jpg

Here, we are introduced to characters talking about how our logic and view on reality “collapses on the subatomic level”, even going so far as bringing up the thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat, introducing a theme about non-sense and impossibility. All this foreshadowing the rest of the movie, with its religious overtones.

At the same time, the movie builds up a mythology of its own, related to Christian myths. The names Jesus, Satan are referenced in fictional religious text passages. One particular example stands out: a strange passage from a translation of an ancient book, portraying Jesus as a extraterrestrial being, sent to Earth to warn the people of the danger about Anti-God. After that, it’s never mentioned again for the rest of the movie. This reference to so-called “Space Jesus” leaves behind a sense of mystery, albeit a pretty surprising one.

These mythical stories are mixed with “explanations” of the existence of God and Satan, that they are invisible elements of subatomic particles, in which the anti-particle is Anti-God/Anti-Christ. It’s further strengthened by this excerpt from a monologue by the priest of the movie:

“It’s your disbelief that powers him. Your stubborn fate in common sense that allows this deception. He lives in the smallest parts of it. In the atoms, smaller, invisible. He lives in all of it. In the sum of its parts.”

All the movies talk about anti-matter, quantum physics and even tachyons (in a very interesting interpretation) may seem to some people as a laughable try to give quasi-scientific theological “explanations” of God and Satan. I see Prince of Darkness for what it is: a supernatural horror movie, apocalyptic, rich in its own mythology, and entertaining as hell.

John Carpenter: A Study of Ideas

Have you ever heard a story that sounded like it had potential, but it turned out to be kind of empty? Or seen a movie that had a great idea, but not well-executed? Or read a book that lacked some kind of “substance” that could have made the plot richer? You get the feeling that something is missing?

That is the sense I get from John Carpenter.

Carpenter.2

He is considered one of the classic masters of horror, a movie director who’s been active since the 1970s. His most famous achievement in the horror field has to be Halloween from 1978, which was one of the contributing factors to the creation of the “slasher horror movie”, before the genre went haywire decades later, with one pathetic cliché “teenage slasher movie” after another.

Carpenter has done a number of movies during the years, the ones in the 70s and 80s being the most commercial successes. However, time has been able to “reinstitute” some of his newer works in the film canon of impressive works of film horror. Personally, if I were a movie director, I would see that as kind of annoying. That my movies needs years of pondering and valuation before they are considered passable!

There’s nothing lacking in Carpenter’s stories, concepts and ideas. However, I find that the final pictures always contains a number of flaws. The idea starts out good, but doesn’t get a jump-start, or isn’t evolved to fit the story. Instead of a painting, you get a frame. Also, the characters tend to be too one-dimensional in order to drive the plot to its full potential. To me it’s just frustrating. All this potential, just within reach! A movie that could’ve been perfect is just “good”!

john carpenter dvdNonetheless, I enjoy every one of his movies. His directing is well-paced, there’s never any lack of atmosphere, when he’s contributing music to his own music the result is awesome, and the “worlds” he’s building up are always interesting to visit. And most of all for the entertainment value, and of the aforementioned ideas and concepts, which can inspire your own imagination, as well as giving the audience something to talk about when the movie is over.

Details, and some aspects of the basic premises in the stories, are often left in the dark. This can be a bad thing as well as a good one. In Carpenter’s case, I think it’s mostly a good one. One thing people often forgets is that horror is about atmosphere, and in order to achieve that you have to leave behind question marks. Carpenter always provide with answers, but still leaves behind a few question marks here and there.

In this series of posts, I will focus on some themes and ideas I find interesting. Plus, I do not intend to do a repertoire of his entire filmography. Instead, I will focus on his so-called “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which includes the movies:

The Thing (1982),

Prince of Darkness (1987),

and In the Mouth of Madness (1994).

carpenter blood

So, without further ado, I guess it’s about time I actually started DOING what I promised a long time ago. “For the next few days” my ass…

Anyway, like I’ve said before…

I’m not going anywhere!