A sinister secret has been kept in the basement of an abandoned Los Angeles church for many years. With the death of a priest belonging to a mysterious sect, another priest opens the door to the basement and discovers a vat containing a green liquid. The priest contacts a group of physics graduate students to investigate it. Unfortunately, they discover that the liquid contains the essence of Satan himself, and they also discover that he will release HIS father - an all-powerful Anti-God! The liquid later comes to life itself, turning some of the students into zombies as the Devil comes forward to release his father. Will these students be able to stop him?
Directed by: John Carpenter
. Starring: Donald Pleasence
, Jameson Parker
, Victor Wong
, Lisa Blount
, Dennis Dun
, Susan Blanchard
, Anne Marie Howard
, Ann Yen
, Ken Wright
, Dirk Blocker
, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson
, Peter Jason
, Robert Grasmere
. Music by: John Carpenter
, Alan Howarth
This is another one of my favorite movies of all time, it's kind of also my seventh favorite film from one of my favorite movie directors "John Carpenter" if you can believe that; and the second in his apocalypse trilogy.
One of the things I always love about his films are how each film is always creatively different, this film no doubt is a different kind of sci-fi horror film you don't see every day. This film almost looks and feels like it could have been a lost episode of "The X-Files" or "Gravity Falls" had they decided to tackle this notion (well ok "The X-Files did have a few episodes that dealt with Satan and his demonic minions' kind of).
I really love the plotline which I think is an interesting concept and almost plausible which provides a what if possible explanation on a religious system whether you really believe in it or not, it's almost like with Michael Moorcock's sci-fi book "Behold the Man" which was also a story that also provided a what if. It's true it seems like a wild concept, but the thing is we don't truly know what happened thousands of years ago in history, and of course there were the archeological findings of the Sumerian texts about a people called the Aunnaki which honestly made me thought twice about the faith I'm in; so who's really to say what is.
But also, the plotline is kind of Lovecratian, just like in H.P.'s stories they were always about otherworldly threats but also carried a bit of an atheistic philosophy in which Lovecraft himself was, so the film sort of stays true on both matters.
I like the protagonists, it's true there are two characters that are suppose to be the main leads played by Jameson Parker and Lisa Blont they do fine they serve their functions but to me their kind of the weak point of the film as both are uninteresting and two dimensional making them almost generic by their nature. It really the three characters in the film that are the true main protagonists and thankfully have more than enough screen time to be that, which was a wise choice.
All three are over course John Carpenter alumni, Dennis Dun is great, it sort of looks like that actor Reggie Lee from the TV show "Grimm" but isn't. But his character is a lot of fun, he's just funny sort of almost a Bruce Campbell like character (Bruce Campbell in a John Carpenter film that would have been something) as he's just got a lot of humorous memorable lines some comical and some sarcasticsmart ass ones. But I really like how he reacts and expresses himself through the whole ordeal which feel like how any of us would; he really doesn't want to be there he'd rather be somewhere else and has something better in mind he'd rather be doing right now which is a feeling I can emphasize with as I feel that way whenever I stay in one place too long or just bored with whatever I'm doing right now that feels like a waste of time which most likely is. His feeling is correct, and from what happens latter he really regrets how he spent his weekend which is about to turn into a dead weekend.
Victor Wong and Donald Pleasance are great as Prof. Howard Birack and Priest both have a great back and forth, both are obviously the representations of science and religion going hand and hand but at the same time in constant conflict on each other. I like how both aren't the stereotypical academic and priest architypes that are annoyingly egocentrics. Both are firm on what they believe in but their both also open-minded people as they are open to any and all possibilities in life and as we see from what they find both their beliefs are put to the test and make both ask more questions then every before.
The monologues and dialogs both characters have been great, I really like everything they say because there is a lot of truth to it. From what both character say at the beginning of the film, Priest talks about the problem with disbelief and latching on to common sense making us blind to acknowledge what exists despite unseen but also Birack giving a lecture to his class about how all the things we take for granted in life aren't true and real truth and the common perception of reality isn't what we think. Despite different ideologies both are right, and really correlates with the themes in the film about our search and perception of the truth.
I really love how thought provoking the film is. You might not get it all by the first watch which is why this film is one of those ones you must watch more than once to uncover more and the more I watched it, the more I understood the film. I really love how science is included, not to say science was never a part of both the sci-fi and horror genre but most of the time it was always indirect or like a shelf holder for the story.
Here we really see and hear real science being applied and spoken, in a way it sort of makes the film a little educational in some of the realm of quantum physics which I've never taken at Pacific Lutheran University, but watching this film gains me some understand and sparks a little interest.
But of the course the suspensehorror and music are just superb. As usual the music in Carpenter's films is great, the music in this film really has a cold chilling ominous feeling that rings true to the nature of this film; this is another one of the kinds of music I could listen to on my iPod or even a record player.
The suspense is great, you are just having the icy chills from beginning to end as you just have this feeling of dread and impending doom. The pacing is great as it starts out steady but then speeds up as things begin to unravel very fast.
I really like the setting, which is oppressive and creepy, despite it being a shut down church you find no sanctuary there. From the lighting, some of the seediness of the architecture, the long dark hallway which always gave me the creeps I honestly won't go down there unless I had a 12 gauge (characters in this film probably which they did).
I really like some of the effects which are solid and really do add to the creepy vibe, from some good bloodgore effects, along with the big green ooze canaster where the dark prince resides which I'll admit looks like the ooze canaster from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", hmmmm did John Carpenter read the comic book series. I really like how they handle the "Prince of Darkness" character itself. The character never really comes forth till the end of the film, which is fine by me because here the dark prince is a force of evil from beginning to end, you really feel its presence as it's psychic influence is just creating an oppressive and evil atmosphere.
There is a usual the feeling of isolation which is a common theme in Carpenter's films as we see in the third act the protagonists are literally on their own as no one really knows where they are, but are just stuck between a church and a hard place as the army of tranced people (in which Alice Cooper has a cameo role which is cool since I'm a fan of his music) are covering the outside, as well as those ooze zombies from inside that spray out ooze from their mouths; so either way their all fracked.
Once scene that I found memorable and always chilled me is how the protagonists have these strange dreams that look like found footage (yeah this film sort of predated that sub-genre), we see the camera roughly moving on the church location and there is this voice that keeps saying "this is not a dream" and the camera pans to a dark figure. Despite very little revealed you already know in the back of your mind who that dark figure is, I remember thinking "Oh crap it's Satan himself, we're all fraked."
This film really gets at the issues of the follies of both religion and science how both field never really have the whole truth, how the truth isn't always what we perceive no mater our preconceived beliefs, but most of all no matter how much knowledge we acquire over the years it doesn't make us any wiser because we still know very little about the infinite universe we occupy. I really love this film, but word of warning it's not exactly for anyone, if you're into thought provoking sci-fi and horror then this film is worth a try. But if you're a casual sci-fi and horror and you're not down with the kind that make you think then this film may not be for you.
It was always said we can never truly contain evil, because no matter how much we try to and how many times, it always finds a way out.
Review by hellraiser7 from the Internet Movie Database.