100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Sixteen - "Prince Of Darkness!"

Today is one of those days where I'd like to curl up in bed and watch "The X-Files" all day. It's nice and depressing and suits my current mood perfectly. But no, I got out of bed - in a grumpy mood, mind you - and tried to get on with my day, but it's been shitty no matter what I do. And nothing seems to be going my way, wah wah wah, why me? Pity party in my pants - no one's invited!

Anyway, here's today's movie. Maybe tomorrow I'll be back in the swing.

Prince of Darkness (1987): Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Donald Pleasance, James Wong, Jameson Parker.

The Skinny: One of the three movies that director John Carpenter refers to as his “Apocalypse Trilogy,” this muddled mess of a movie follows a team of scientists teaming with members of the clergy to explore the contents of an ageless vat contained in the basement of a church. As the team members succumb to madness and violence, the reality of the vat’s contents becomes something so bizarre that no one would ever have suspected the truth.

What’s Good: Good question. Carpenter’s movies are frustrating in their inconsistency and this is a shining example. No one expects a director not to evolve or take on other genres, but in Carpenter’s case, many of his post-“Halloween” productions are poorly fleshed out, leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth. That all said, I still enjoy his films (well, most of them), and this is no exception. It’s a good idea, really – ancient evil bound at the molecular level, a sort of Antichrist anti-matter. But, that’s all we really get out of it. The premise goes undeveloped for most of the film … but wait, I’m supposed to be talking about good things here! It is atmospheric and disjointed, and that’s good when you’re looking for a movie to watch when you’re out of your mind on booze, drugs or both. And uh … well, there’s some other stuff in there as well, I’m sure.

What’s Bad: Now I can write something! See, as someone who has dabbled in screenwriting, the whole thing begins with the story and at times, it seems like “Prince of Darkness” abandons that premise for the sake of being strange. It’s as if it were written on the fly … “and let’s throw in some homeless people! And strange dreams! Yeah! And – ooh! Transmissions from the future! Yes! Gold!” Also, there isn’t one character in the whole film that you can identify with or give two shits in a tin bucket about. Even the always solid Donald Pleasance looks lost and uncomfortable throughout, as if he were waiting for Carpenter to suddenly say, “It’s okay, Don – this was all an elaborate joke! There isn’t even any film in the cameras!”

Why We Like It: Like I said, I actually do like it. I liked all of Carpenter’s films up to a certain point, but he lost me with “Ghosts of Mars.” I see some of myself in Carpenter, inasmuch that I often come up with ideas for stories and they never seem to flesh out. But he isn’t going to let that stop him. He’s got a budget and some actors and a studio to distribute the fucker when it’s done, and he’s gonna put it out there no matter what. I have to admire that. Sometimes it works – “Big Trouble in Little China,” for example – and sometimes it sucks so bad it’s great – “They Live,” with Rowdy Roddy Piper. But this movie is a masterpiece of half-baked ideas and great “What-if’s” and that’s it. Yet, I stiff find myself watching it. Why? Hell I have no idea.

Memorable Stuff: The most memorable thing for me are the dream transmissions that the characters start receiving – supposedly transmissions from the future trying to stop their experiments now before it’s too late. It’s a bizarre blend of science fiction and techno-horror, featuring astronaut-looking beings in biosuits and stone angels and other wacky imagery and they sort of sum up this entire feature. It’s all a strange blend of many ideas and textures and sometimes they work and sometimes it’s so bad … well, let’s leave it at that.