Prince of Darkness
(1987, Dir. by John Carpenter.)
Why It's Here:
John Carpenter's bizarre mixture of physics, philosophy, and religion is one of the most curious horror films to come out of the 1980s. In the middle of its convoluted plot - that centers on what I've always called a "vat of liquid Satan" - are some genuine chills and a lot of Carpenter's trademark dark humor. It all leads to a thought-provoking open-ended finale (Then again, what Carpenter film doesn't?) that keeps me loving the film every time.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
A fantastic series of "dream" images provides some of my favorite goosebumps of all-time. Carpenter uses these brief flashes to keep us wondering about the sciencey side of the plot, leading to a payoff that gets me every time.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Prince of Darkness is a movie that's hard to compare to anything else - its tone sets it apart from other religio-horrors while its plot sets it apart from most of its '80s brethren. An easy pick to double it up with would be In the Mouth of Madness - which follows it in Carpenter's unofficial "Apocalypse Trilogy" - while a cheesier choice would be another kooky '80s flick, The Vineyard.
What It Means To Me:
I hate to use this cliche, but I've always thought Prince of Darkness is one of the most underrated films in horror. It's got legitimate chills, it's more thoughtful than most horror films, and it provides something that is truly unique. It's a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow - the film bombed at the box office in its day - but I've gone to it often since I was a youngster. There's really nothing else quite like this film.
Plus Alice Cooper is in it as a homeless dude who serves the liquid Satan! How can people not love that?