TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Reader Mike P. on Prince of Darkness

john carpenter's prince of darkness

I know some may find it silly, but the character in JOHN CARPENTER‘s PRINCE OF DARKNESS that is most frightening to me is the student who gets bruised and then ends up absorbing the most liquid from the jar. When she wakes up she still has her cute outfit and cute blond ponytail, but her teeth are black and her skin looks like an unbaked pizza. You may laugh, but her childlike wide-eyed glee as she “opens” mirrors and hisses, “Father!” always gives me the willies.

UNKLE LANCIFER SEZ: Mike, I’m not laughing! PRINCE OF DARKNESS has a haunting quality all its own. Both unusual in the CARPENTER canon and an almost perfect blending of all his most recognizable themes, the “Darkness” in PRINCE is surprisingly pitch black and the stuff real nightmares are made of. Some of that often-silly imagery you mentioned only adds to the creep factor! I, like apparently many other people, have always been taken aback by the film’s disturbingly ambiguous end scene(s). Shrouded in static interference and accompanied by barely audible voice transmissions, its apocalyptic fever dream warning from beyond has always gotten to my core. Although hard to pin down, hard to focus on, faulty, digital imagery has been utilized in many movies post BLAIR WITCH, in 1987 this message from this future was suitably ahead of its time. (It should be said, RIDLEY SCOTT used similar staticy, vague visuals to great effect in early scenes of ALIEN as well) If you think about it, recent flicks like CLOVERFIELD and [REC] are all over this first hand, message from ground zero vibe. In the lone case of PRINCE OF DARKNESS though, the techno “transmission” is invading a dreamy subconscious state and involves a supernatural ultimate evil…scary stuff. Interestingly, CARPENTER thinks of PRINCE OF DARKNESS as the second film in an “apocalypse trilogy” that also includes THE THING and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. I’m sure there’s many viewers who began the film laughing at JAMESON PARKER‘s massive porn mustache but found themselves later in bed, in that weird blurry state between awake and asleep, wondering where the images in their own dreams originate from.

“This is not a dream..not a dream. We are using your brain’s electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation.”

NOTE: Audio “samples” from this ominous message are found on DJ SHADOW‘s album “Endtroducing” and MARILYN MANSON‘s version of Down in the Park.” Although there is no direct connection, to me, NINE INCH NAIL’s entire album Year Zero seems cut from the same cloth as well. While we’re at it , it also reminds me of one of my favorite record covers, THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN‘s “April Skies” which, like PRINCE OF DARKNESS, came out in 1987.

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13 years ago

Hmmm some how I missed this one!  I need to put it in the que!

13 years ago

It’s definitely worth it.  While the main character’s “porn mustache” does take getting used to, once the REAL fun begins you’ll stop snickering.  One thing that makes the movie so effective (and makes it appealing to fans of hard SF) is that the characters are all physicists and they do a very good job of attempting to relate all the creepy-ass happenings directly to quantum physics.  Sounds like a stretch, but the script is very good.

Jeff Allard
13 years ago

This movie is unbelievably great. I love it! It’s weird, scary and totally bad-ass. And you just can’t go wrong with Donald Pleasence and Victor Wong in the same movie.

aunt john
13 years ago

Every time I look at that top graphic, it makes me think AMY POEHLER must have been having a really rough day.

11 years ago

Late reply but….

One of my favorites. The “Brotherhood of Sleep” dreams are so effing creepy and the tone is beyond bleak.

8 years ago

My favourite from Carpenter and, yes, very creepy!
It gave me a lot of nightmares when I watched it back in 1993.