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October 3, 2013

Movie Review: Prince of Darkness (1987, Blu-ray)

It's been twenty plus years since I begged my mom to purchase Prince of Darkness on pay-per-view so I could watch it on our murky tube TV. Seeing that it has now made its debut on Blu-ray in a special edition from Scream Factory - a company no stranger to bringing John Carpenter's best to the digital format - should please anyone looking to see this very versatile director at his finest.

When some scientists and college students decide to take their teachings and studies to another level after being given information by a priest (The legendary Donald Pleasance, Halloween) about a mysterious green liquid being stored in vat they jump at the chance at finding out its significance. Once they all get set up in the church with various devices that assist in detecting any sort of activity they become trapped by a horde of psychotic homeless people led by rock icon Alice Cooper.

Once they discover the outside threat, the inside threat of the green liquid rears its ugly head and soon some of the students become demonic zombies pent on getting an incredible evil from an alternate world (Hell?) to take over. The Prince of Darkness plays very effectively with much of the same tools and single location terror that Assault on Precinct 13 and Night of the Living Dead used several years earlier. Carpenter basically does it again here; just with zombie, demons, flesh-eating beetles and killer hobos.

The extras features on the disc are an absolute blast. There are a few quality interviews of note - John Carpenter is on hand for the featurette Sympathy for the Devil, actor Robert Grasmere, composer Alan Howarth and one the best reasons to buy this release, a very enjoyable interview with rock icon Alice Cooper. Cooper's role was originally just supposed to be small until Carpenter decided he wanted him to be the leader of the homeless people. The singer seems to have loved his time on the film and has a great appreciation for the director.

Carpenter generally puts together very solid commentaries, and he's back with a nice mixture of stories and technical insight with actor Peter Jason. Both roll off each other very well. They say some nice about Victor Wong even though they seemed puzzled by his eating habits. Definitely worth a listen if you enjoyed the film.

The Prince of Darkness is a winner on Blu-ray and looks stunning in high-def. I still think it's underappreciated and I hope fans can re-discover this creepy, sinister little flick. I'm sure if you compare it to Halloween and the near perfection that was created in 1978 you may feel that way but on its own it's still one of the best horror films of the mid-80's. Highly Recommended

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