Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #22: John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

We at Movie Debaters are huge fans of John Carpenter’s work. How can you not be? He’s not called the Master of Horror for nothing. Not only that, but it’s just a great genre filmmaker. Now, I can’t speak on behalf of Josh, but I actually haven’t seen all of Carpenter’s movies. Most, but not all. That’s because I’m so impulsive in what I watch that I don’t have the patience to work my way through all of a given filmmaker’s work. Hell, I haven’t seen all of Stanley Kubrick’s movies yet even though he’s Stanley effing Kubrick.

The point is this is the first time I’ve seen Prince of Darkness. It was amazing.

The thing I loved most about this movie is how it starts off novel-esque. There’s a bunch of characters all pulled together to research this mysterious container in the basement of a church. All the characters have different scientific backgrounds and they all approach the problem differently. They all get their own little moments in the movie that let their personality shine.

I could imagine that if this was a novel, we’d get a chapter from each character’s perspective and how they related to the container.

Once the shit hits the fan, we as the audience are really invested in each of the characters. That’s always a plus in horror movies. It’s much easier to get scared during a movie if you have an attachment to the characters.

I felt the horror was especially effective in this movie because so much care was put into making sure you understood each of these characters were truly brilliant in their given scientific field. When the horror starts you realize a) they’re smart but not survival smart and b) their trust in science starts to break down. That’s really scary to me. Once you have dyed-in-the-wool scientists losing their grip on reality, you know it’s bad.

Aiding the horror in the movie is arguably the best John Carpenter score. I’m not really a music guy so don’t take my opinion too seriously but I felt like this was the score that really enhanced the horror going on. The creepy synth music guided the creepy, unsettling mood of the movie.

I guess Prince of Darkness could be considered a “deep cut” of Carpenter’s work. Maybe that’s why I haven’t watched until now. In any case, if you’re a fan of his work you have to see this movie. I consider The Thing to be his scariest movie, but this is a solid second place.

-Harrison

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