What to do with a jar of antichrist

Day 16, where­in we dis­cov­er Mephistophe­les to be a glo­ri­fied lava lamp

The fol­low­ing orig­i­nal­ly appeared on Flick Attack, 20 March 2012.

There are sev­en rea­sons why the immor­tal John Carpenter’s Satan-on-the-rise movie Prince of Dark­ness is utter­ly awe­some:

1. The nar­ra­tive revolves around the dis­cov­ery of an aged glass con­tain­er of sick­ly green liq­uid; a liq­uid that is, in actu­al­i­ty, Satan (or close enough for base­ball). “A life form is grow­ing out of pre-biot­ic flu­ids. It’s not wind­ing down into dis­or­der, it’s self-orga­niz­ing.” The con­cept is so unique­ly ridicu­lous, it’s awe-inspir­ing.

2. This is auteur Car­pen­ter at his most unfet­tered, work­ing with extreme­ly low bud­gets and there­by uncon­strained by the dic­tates of pro­duc­ers. Yes, some of the prac­ti­cal effects are on the dodgy side, the act­ing is rough, and this ain’t a sus­pense clas­sic like Hal­loween or a mon­ster epic like The Thing. But when vest­ed in the mate­r­i­al, Car­pen­ter works the creepy like few can. The dream sequences that haunt those close to the Lucifer­goo gave me day­mares for weeks.

Satan goo!

3. Right smack in the mid­dle, a Vat­i­can-hid­den reli­gious tome reveals that Jesus Christ was an extra-ter­res­tri­al who tried to warn humans about the dan­gers inher­ent in the liq­uid. At this rev­e­la­tion, not one sci­en­tist so much as bats an eye­lash. That is some cold ana­lyt­i­cal shit hap­pen­ing right there.

4. Car­pen­ter wrote the screen­play as Mar­tin Quater­mass, after the hero of the clas­sic British Quater­mass films, and their influ­ence is obvi­ous. Tech­nob­a­b­ble such as “Say good­bye to clas­si­cal real­i­ty, because our log­ic col­laps­es on the sub­atom­ic lev­el … into ghosts and shad­ows” does epic bat­tle with the­o­log­i­cal non­sense: “It’s your dis­be­lief that pow­ers him. Your stub­born faith in, in … com­mon sense. He lives in the small­est parts of it.”

5. The sound­track is a clas­sic Car­pen­ter synth score.

One’s a physi­cist. One’s a priest. They’re detec­tives!

6. Don­ald Pleas­ance as the befud­dled priest! Vic­tor Wong as the Quater­mass stand-in! An unlike­ly odd cou­ple who debate Carpenter’s absurd science-vs.-religion dia­logues with grace and aplomb and as much grav­i­tas as can be mus­tered when dis­cussing a tube of Satan­ic ooze.

7. Can we get a lit­tle love for the less­er Simon broth­er? Yes, yes, we all dig McRaney, but dammit, Jame­son Park­er needs respect! And he just rocks the porn ‘stache!


For the month of Octo­ber, I’ll be post­ing specif­i­cal­ly about hor­ror. Because why do you think.