Interestingly on the laserdisc commentary for Halloween, Carpenter acknowledged the influence of Dario Argento and Suspiria whilst making his iconic slasher classic, but the spirit of Argento is most felt in a sequence in Prince of Darkness when a character is slashed with a scissors by an assassin that could have wandered out of an Argento film. In fact this may be Carpenter's most Italian film - there's a scene where a man literally crumbles into a writhing mass of cockroaches, and the climax that recalls the mindwarp of the final act of The Beyond. There's also a nice bit of business involving a surreal dream sequence which reoccurs throughout the movie and appears as fuzzy video-shot footage, the kind of thing that's over used nowadays, but must have been quite startling back in 1987.
|Alice Cooper and friends stand guard for the Prince of Darkness|
Carpenter's direction is as stylish as ever, truly he was a master of shooting in 'scope. Looking back on the film some 23 years later, the film has a pleasing sense of retrospection to earlier Carpenter films, namely The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13. In the latter film, Carpenter's heroes were surrounded by the Street Thunder gang, while here its a gang of murderous derelicts, led by a creepy looking Alice Cooper. Donald Pleaseance makes his third appearance in a Carptenter directed film, and Victor Wong and Dennis Dun return from Big Trouble In Little China.
In the current absence of a Blu-Ray, Prince of Darkness is best served by Momentum's R2 DVD, which sports a good transfer framed around 2:35, and comes with a commentary track by the director. I haven't sampled it myself, but when Carpenter's on good form, he's worth listening to. Incidentally, Hammer fans will appreciate Carpenter's homage to the studio during the opening credits where he credits his own screenplay to a Martin Quatermass.