Category Archives: Film

Prince of Darkness

Prince of Darkness. A Film by John Carpenter.


When people talk about John Carpenter Movies they will invariably mention Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13 and rightly so as they are all examples of Horror and suspense at its cinematic finest. However, I feel that there is not enough noise made about one of his most underrated and overlooked pieces. Prince of Darkness.

Receiving poor reviews upon its release in 1987 the critics said that they found the piece surprisingly cheesy and that it was not up to Carpenter’s usual high standards. In short they tore it apart. I have to disagree with them entirely. From the opening scene right through  to the end credits the feature has an eerie undertone about it. You find yourself constantly on edge and uncomfortable throughout as Carpenter creates what I think is a very intense atmospheric story.

The plot starts with the death of an old Priest from a secret sect called the Brotherhood of Sleep who have been guardians to an undisclosed item that has been kept hidden for centuries. An object so secret that even the Vatican is not aware of its presence. Another Priest is entrusted with the keys to an old church in the downtown Los Angeles area where he discovers an ancient cylinder, full of a strange glowing substance and the container is sealed from the inside. This same priest invites a University Professor with a group of Physics Students and Academics to study the strange object. Their studies uncover that the liquid inside is in fact sentient and is transmitting complex mathematical data to an unknown source.

At the same time news reports that the fallout from a Supernova that exploded thousands of years ago, light years away in deep space has now reached our planet and is causing adverse effects on our global ecosystem. As the story unfolds the liquid is set free and the group must fight for survival as members of their own group become possessed by the liquid. Their exit from the church is blocked by a gang of homeless people, led by Alice Cooper, (yes Alice Cooper!) who are being controlled by the life-force gaining power within. Anyone who tries to leave are set upon by the street people and murdered. All of this culminates in an ending that has such wonderful imagery that it still haunts me whenever I decide on giving it another viewing.

What I particularly like about the movie is the questions it poses in the Science versus Religion argument as the Priest and Professor both give their opinions on what is happening around them and what they can do about it. Ultimately they are both proven wrong. The idea of an ancient Religious artefact being awoken eons of years after its imprisonment by a natural phenomenon that occurred millions of light years away from Earth intrigues me. Is it just coincidence that the essence inside is becoming self-aware or was the explosion of the Star pre-empted by the being in the cylinder and it has been lying in wait for this moment?

The concept of what the substance within the cylinder is and its eventual goal are interesting ideas that have not really been broached particularly in any movie I have seen. If anyone out there knows otherwise please tell me so that I can check it out. I also love the idea of the task that the creature within is trying to achieve once it has been set free. The first time I saw Prince of Darkness it opened up a whole new level of thinking for myself that I had never considered before.

On a lighter note another thing to watch out for during the Movie is the incredible 80’s fashion and hairstyles. Mullets reign supreme and stone-wash Denim rears its ugly head sometimes in Jacket and Jeans combinations. Strangely enough the character in it that would have been called the stereotypical nerd back in 1987 is probably dressed in a style that would be called fashionable in this day and age. It would not be out of the question to see many a Hipster shambling around Shoreditch East London in the exact same outfit.

So in short, watch it, fear it and hopefully love it.


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The ‘Burbs.

The ‘Burbs. A film by Joe Dante.


I grew up in what was by no means the rural outskirts of a city and was not within sixty miles of what the government class as a city in England, but it certainly had that feel about it. My childhood residence was in a cul-de-sac so this movie has a very close place not only in my funny bone but also to my youthful years. My folks were by no means people who would twitch curtains and are not what I would call nosy but they certainly had an interest in what went on and still goes on in their little corner of the world. The Burbs takes this nosy neighbour idea, multiplies it by a considerable number, adds paranoia and general boredom to the character’s lives and tops it off with a very American cold war unease but without the actual threat.

What makes this Movie so enjoyable for me is not the plot, as it is pretty singular and you think is only ever going to come to one conclusion, but the different characters that interact within the piece. Each member of the neighbourhood adds their own elements to the story and the comedy, the stressed business man who is taking a week off work to relax only to have his plans dashed by his interfering neighbours. His wife who can see her husband getting more and more worked up by the events unfolding before her and continuously tries to help him relax. The two main culprits that drag her husband into all the stupid games are a Korean War veteran with every type of military equipment available for them to do all the spying that want and his partner in crime a bored house husband with too much time on his hands and an overactive imagination. With the laid-back teenager, painting his parent’s house for the summer whilst they are away, looking in on the whole scenario as if he is almost part of the audience. All of them are spying on and surmising over the movements and habits of the less than social new family on the street with the run down house and unkempt lawn. It is this lack of social interaction that brings about the main plot device. Who are the Klopek’s? When did they move in and how many of them are there?

What I think also draws me to it are the subtle underlying levels of horror and peril that are thrown in throughout posing a very real question that we must all ask ourselves at times. How well do we actually know our neighbours? You may disagree, thinking that it is merely a comedy, but I think that there is a very fine line between horror and comedy. This seems to be a running theme throughout many of Joe Dante’s movies, Gremlins, Innerspace and The Howling all having their roots grounded in comedy but including sinister undertone.

A number of people within my social circle all share the same appreciation for this movie as I do and we have been known to spend an overly long time discussing it, sometimes on a meaningful level, but mostly with jovial recollection.  One of my sisters used to sit and watch it with me when we were younger and my wife beamed about the fond memories the movie gave her the first time we discussed it. A number of my close friends all perk up and discuss it at length when it enters conversation. However, I have also seen people give a very negative opinion about the film and as with most comedy the humour in it is not for everyone. Many a time my sister and I would be watching the movie when my Mother would enter the room and state ‘I hate this film’ in her broad Geordie accent before turning around and exiting the lounge as soon as possible. Another of my sister’s also use to leave the room if we decided ‘The Burbs’ was what was going to be watched, although a lot less vocally than Mum.

The paranoia of the unknown neighbours takes the lead characters measures of finding out more about the Klopek’s to the extreme when they start using night vision goggles to spy on them in the dark. Slip notes under the outcast’s front door, ringing the door bell and then running away like a group of mischievous schoolboys. Forcibly stopping the Bin men from doing their jobs by going through the Klopek’s bins in the middle of the street, in search of any shred of incriminating evidence they can find.

When an elderly neighbour’s dog shows up cold and shaking they presume the worst, thinking that his absence is down to the Klopek’s, so they take it on themselves to check and see if the he is okay. After some snooping around and some breaking and entering they get into the house. Signs of a struggle in the lounge area send the imaginations of the group into overdrive and a whole new bunch of even more outrageous ideas are hatched.

The wives are more sceptical, deciding to put a stop to everything by inviting themselves over to the new Neighbours house and cooking Brownies as a greeting gift. The Klopek’s very reservedly invited their neighbours in offering them pretzels and sardines. What follows are in my opinion moments of comedy gold. Awkward silences and stumbled attempts at pleasantries are the crux of the scene with the social inadequacies of the new family made even more apparent by the invasion of their home. The evening ends when an uninvited guest makes a rather loud entrance through the back garden.

Having had a chance to snoop around the Klopek’s house the husbands hatch a plot to have a more though look around the house when the occupants are away on business the very next day. Again, moments of comic genius unfurl in an over the top and very Hollywood ending.

My conclusion is that if you are at a loss for something to do this coming Sunday why not get hold of a copy of the ‘Burbs, leave all sensible thinking behind you and enjoy this little gem.