Prince Of Darkness (1987)

Rating: ***
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Victor Wong, Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, cameo by Alice Cooper

Ah, another fond memory of a night at the movies with Heather... Anyway, what we have here is a sci-fi horror film that's very well written and extremely creepy. Catholic priest Donald Pleasence has his faith shaken when he discovers a canister of swirling green goo in the basement of a church. For the last two thousand years under secret orders from the Vatican, the Brotherhood Of Sleep has guarded the canister and kept it in seclusion, and now it's starting to awaken. Pleasence enlists the aid of Professor Victor Wong and his physics students to study the phenomenon and scientifically prove that it's the source of all evil. Not a simple task... As the evil influence of the canister grows, the researchers get trapped in the church and start getting picked off one by one in typical horror movie fashion. The climax of the film is totally creepy and the "dreams" from the future are truly terrifying.

What makes the film succeed as a horror film and surpass the genre is the tight and intelligent script. The story is complex and captivating, and the characters are all smart enough to figure out what's going on and deal with it logically, scientifically, philosophically, and spiritually, as well as physically, as opposed to your typical bunch of naive and/or stupid teenagers who merely serve as fodder for the film's main baddie. Characteristic of Carpenter's better films, the characters really stand out as individuals and are interesting and likable. Only Dennis Dun gets the short end of the stick and gets stuck with all of the bad dialog (which the other characters are keenly aware of). Even though it's B-movie schlock, the film has a very honest and human feel to it. Sadly, John Carpenter only went downhill after this entertaining effort.