Prince of Darkness (1987)


Prince of Darkness is a 1987 American horror film directed, written, and scored by John Carpenter. The film is the second entry in what Carpenter calls his “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which began with The Thing (1982) and concludes with In the Mouth of Madness (1995). The film stars Donald Pleasence,  Victor Wong, Jameson Parker and Lisa Blount, with an entertaining extended cameo by Alice Cooper.


Executive producer Shep Gordon was also manager to singer Alice Cooper and suggested Cooper he record a song for the picture. He also allowed the ‘impaling device’ from his stage show to be used in the film in a scene where his character kills Etchinson. The song he wrote for the film, also titled “Prince of Darkness”, can be heard briefly in the same scene playing through Etchinson’s headphones.

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Although Carpenter wrote the screenplay, in the film’s credits the writer is listed as Martin Quatermass, a homage repeated in the film with Kneale University. These were in reference to the British film and television writer Nigel Kneale and the famous fictional scientist he created, Professor Bernard Quatermass. The storyline features elements associated with Kneale (the ancient evil aspect of both Quatermass and the Pit and The Quartermass Conclusion, the idea of messages from the future from The Road, and the scientific investigation of the supernatural from The Stone Tape).

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Prince of darkness 1987

Kneale, however, was irritated with this use of the character’s name in the film’s credits, as he feared that the impression may be given that he had something to do with the film. Previously, he had written the original screenplay for the 1982 film Halloween III: Season of the Witch for Carpenter, but had been so incensed with all of the changes director Tommy Lee Wallace had made to it that he had his name removed from the credits.

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Apparently there is a marked difference between the theatrical andand the US TV version, which featured a mix of edits and extra scenes. By all accounts they make for a different film, removing some of the plot and enhancing the idea that it was all just a dream. Unfortunately current digital releases do not contain this footage as extras.

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Related : Quatermass and the Pit

POD might not have much blood, but it has an awesome suppressive atmosphere about it that stays with you even after the movie is over. There’s just something about the idea of being trapped in a building by a creature that actually thrives off of your disbeliefs and can control lower lifeforms like insects and Alice Cooper-impersonating hobos that I found to be especially creepy.” Happyotter

“Prince of Darkness seems to be an inspired film with an inspiring premise, but like almost all John Carpenter films I’ve seen, the execution just isn’t there, and as a result the film falls short. This seems to be the bane of Carpenter’s movies — they’re always good and fun, but they never quite have that something that makes them Great films.” Beyond Hollywood

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Cast and characters:


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” … Prince of Darkness fails to take advantage of its claustrophobic setting and intercuts too many unconnected climaxes. Accordingly, although the film is consistently eerie and interesting. it is never really frightening or exciting.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror, edited by Phil Hardy, 1997

Posted by Will Holland


Categories: 1980s, occult, paranormal, possession, satanic horror

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1 reply

  1. One of my all time favorite Carpenter films, and Horror films ever. A much needed breath of grown up, intelligent air, in a time of God awful teeny bopper Horror. I’m actually surprised that many of my fellow Christians didn’t get all hissy fit, upset over the film’s premise (“There is no God, Christ was an alien”). So sad that we no longer have Donald Pleasance, Victor Wong, and Lisa Blount. Would make an excellent double feature with it’s Nigel Kneale inspiration “Quatermass and the Pit.” We need more intelligent Horror films that make us think.


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