Prince of Darkness (1987)

R | 101 mins | Horror | 23 October 1987

Director:

John Carpenter

Producer:

Larry Franco

Cinematographer:

Gary B. Kibbe

Editor:

Steve Mirkovich

Production Designer:

Daniel Lomino

Production Company:

Haunted Machine Productions
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HISTORY

Prince of Darkness was the first of four movies that director John Carpenter was scheduled to make for producers Shep Gordon and Andre Blay. The 15 May 1987 DV announced the deal, which allowed Carpenter total creative control over the low-budget films. The 11 May 1990 HR credited Carpenter for writing the screenplay under the pen name of Martin Quartermass.
       A 24 Jun 1987 DV production chart and production notes in AMPAS library files listed conflicting start dates in mid-May 1987 in Los Angeles, CA. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the film was shot on location at an abandoned church in downtown Los Angeles, as well as at the abandoned Pacific Coast Men’s Club in Long Beach, CA, and at the historic San Fernando Mission in San Fernando, CA. Interiors were shot at Valencia Independent Studios. Production wrapped on 25 Jun 1987.
       Prince of Darkness opened on 1,239 screens on 23 Oct 1987, taking in $4.7 million in its first three days of release, the 27 Oct 1987 DV reported.
       In 1990, Carpenter sued producers Shep Gordon and Andre Blay for $3.6 million, claiming breach of their four-picture deal, the 11 May 1990 HR reported. The lawsuit contended that the producers did not pay $120,000 worth of production overages on Prince of Darkness, leaving Carpenter to pay the expenses with his own money. The suit also contended that Gordon and Blay did not provide funds for the third movie of the deal, Victory Out of Time which was set to begin production in Jul 1989, ... More Less

Prince of Darkness was the first of four movies that director John Carpenter was scheduled to make for producers Shep Gordon and Andre Blay. The 15 May 1987 DV announced the deal, which allowed Carpenter total creative control over the low-budget films. The 11 May 1990 HR credited Carpenter for writing the screenplay under the pen name of Martin Quartermass.
       A 24 Jun 1987 DV production chart and production notes in AMPAS library files listed conflicting start dates in mid-May 1987 in Los Angeles, CA. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the film was shot on location at an abandoned church in downtown Los Angeles, as well as at the abandoned Pacific Coast Men’s Club in Long Beach, CA, and at the historic San Fernando Mission in San Fernando, CA. Interiors were shot at Valencia Independent Studios. Production wrapped on 25 Jun 1987.
       Prince of Darkness opened on 1,239 screens on 23 Oct 1987, taking in $4.7 million in its first three days of release, the 27 Oct 1987 DV reported.
       In 1990, Carpenter sued producers Shep Gordon and Andre Blay for $3.6 million, claiming breach of their four-picture deal, the 11 May 1990 HR reported. The lawsuit contended that the producers did not pay $120,000 worth of production overages on Prince of Darkness, leaving Carpenter to pay the expenses with his own money. The suit also contended that Gordon and Blay did not provide funds for the third movie of the deal, Victory Out of Time which was set to begin production in Jul 1989, leaving Carpenter out another $480,000.
       A few weeks later, a $7.5 million cross complaint against Carpenter was filed, alleging breach of contract. The 29 May 1990 HR stated that Gordon and Blay and their related companies withheld money from the third movie because they believed Carpenter could not deliver the picture on time, per their distribution deal with Universal Pictures. The article stated that the third picture was titled At Midnight. The second picture was 1988’s They Live (see entry). No additional information could be found about these suits.
       End credits state: "Prerecorded footage supplied by CNN ©Cable News Network, Inc. 1987, All rights reserved." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 May 1987.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1987.
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1987
p. 3, 18.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 1987
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 1990
p. 1, 64.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 1990
p. 1, 69.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1987
Calendar, p. 23.
New York Times
23 Oct 1987
Section C, p. 26.
Variety
28 Oct 1987
p. 14, 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Alive Films Presents
A Larry Franco Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d cam/Panaglide op
2d cam 1st asst
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Video eng
Cranes & dollys
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Laborer foreman
Paint foreman
Prop shop consultant
Standby painter
Standby painter
Canister const by
Op/Supv
Shop foreman
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
[Mus] in assoc with
Re-rec mixer
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Spec sd eff created
Spec sd eff created
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Foley mixer
Foley rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Computer eff coord
Spec eff coord
Matte paintings
Matte paintings
Photographic doubling
Photographic doubling
Photographic doubling
Eff crewman
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Prod assoc
Scr supv
Assto to prod
Prod coord
Casting
Casting asst
Extras casting
Cenex Casting
Prod accountant
Loc mgr
Prod assoc
Unit pub
Bug wrangler
Bug wrangler
First aid
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Stage facilities provided by
Computers supplied by
Computer tech consultant
Computer programming
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Heavenly Puss,” by Scott Bradley, use courtesy of SBK Robbins Catalog Inc.
“Prince Of Darkness,” performed by Alice Cooper, courtesy of MCA Records, written by Alice Cooper & Kane Roberts, produced by Michael Wagener, © 1987 Ensign Music Corporation, Ezra Music Inc., Screen Gems Music – EMI Music Inc.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness
Release Date:
23 October 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 October 1987
Production Date:
mid May--25 June 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 September 1988
Copyright Number:
PA392225
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
101
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28768
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, a Catholic priest invites University of the Sciences physics professor Howard Birack and five of his graduate students to help him with research in the basement of an abandoned church. For the past three decades, the church has been used by an ultra-secret sect known as the Brotherhood of Sleep, unknown even to the Vatican. The research involves investigating a mysterious cylinder on the altar containing swirling green liquid. Joining them in the research are some theology students helping to translate the Latin text of an ancient book found near the altar. Professor Birack and the priest do not give the students any details about what they are researching, but they grow increasingly uncomfortable as zombie-like vagrants gather on the sidewalk around the church watching them. When one of the students leaves for the evening, the vagrants kill him with a stake through his body. Graduate student Brian Marsh questions Professor Birack about what is happening with the cylinder. He suggests the green swirling liquid seems to be prebiotic fluid and something is forming inside the cylinder. Meanwhile graduate student Susan Cabot reports that carbon testing indicates the cylinder was shut seven million years ago, and that the cylinder can only be opened from the inside. Graduate student Lisa’s translation indicates the cylinder was buried eons ago in the Middle East by the father of Satan, a powerful god who was banished to the "dark side." As Susan Cabot stares at the swirling green liquid, some of the fluid leaks out and squirts into her mouth, registering a power surge on Brian Marsh’s instruments. One of the students examines the cylinder, but Susan comes out ... +


In Los Angeles, California, a Catholic priest invites University of the Sciences physics professor Howard Birack and five of his graduate students to help him with research in the basement of an abandoned church. For the past three decades, the church has been used by an ultra-secret sect known as the Brotherhood of Sleep, unknown even to the Vatican. The research involves investigating a mysterious cylinder on the altar containing swirling green liquid. Joining them in the research are some theology students helping to translate the Latin text of an ancient book found near the altar. Professor Birack and the priest do not give the students any details about what they are researching, but they grow increasingly uncomfortable as zombie-like vagrants gather on the sidewalk around the church watching them. When one of the students leaves for the evening, the vagrants kill him with a stake through his body. Graduate student Brian Marsh questions Professor Birack about what is happening with the cylinder. He suggests the green swirling liquid seems to be prebiotic fluid and something is forming inside the cylinder. Meanwhile graduate student Susan Cabot reports that carbon testing indicates the cylinder was shut seven million years ago, and that the cylinder can only be opened from the inside. Graduate student Lisa’s translation indicates the cylinder was buried eons ago in the Middle East by the father of Satan, a powerful god who was banished to the "dark side." As Susan Cabot stares at the swirling green liquid, some of the fluid leaks out and squirts into her mouth, registering a power surge on Brian Marsh’s instruments. One of the students examines the cylinder, but Susan comes out and breaks his neck. When some of the students go outside for fresh air, they admit to being skeptical about the entire project. While the others go back inside, Frank Wyndham remains. The vagrants surrounding the church watch him intensely. Bugs start crawling on Frank, and as he tries to swat them away, a vagrant stabs him repeatedly, killing him. As the students nap at various times, they all experience the same dream about an advanced race trying to communicate with them by transmitting directly to their brains. Records of the Brotherhood of Sleep sect indicate that everyone has the same dreams while there. As grad student Lisa naps, Susan Cabot squirts some of the green fluid into her mouth. Soon, Lisa is back at her computer typing, “I Live! I Live!” over and over again. Susan and Lisa move the cylinder and it opens. The remaining fluid fills the body of graduate student Kelly, whose body swells as it absorbs the liquid. Catherine falls asleep and has the dream in which a dark figure comes out of the church doorway, while the transmission reports it is being sent from the year 1999. Brian determines that tachyon beams are causing the dream. Professor Birack wonders if they are receiving the message as a warning about the future so they can change it. As more of the graduate students are possessed after Susan and Lisa spray the green liquid into their mouths, those who are not possessed barricade themselves away from the others. Outside, the possessed Frank Wyndham yells to them, “Pray for Death.” Kelly’s body ages rapidly as it absorbs all the liquid. She rises and greets her disciples, Susan and Lisa, then goes to a mirror and calls, “Father.” The glass of the mirror becomes liquid and Kelly sticks her fingers through. Seeing this, the priest uses an ax and chops off Kelly’s arm, but it immediately grows back. The priest chops off Kelly’s head, but she merely picks it up, places it back on top of her body, and returns to the mirror. She reaches through the mirror which seems to be a portal and calls, “Father, come to freedom.” Fearing the Anti-God is about to come through the portal, graduate student Catherine Danforth rushes in and pushes Kelly through the mirror, accidentally sending Catherine with her. The priest takes the ax and smashes the mirror to pieces, closing the portal. The people who were possessed die, while the vagrants outside disperse. Graduate student Walter climbs out a window and goes for help. Paramedics take the wounded to the hospital. The injured priest tells Professor Birack that they “stopped it.” Birack agrees that they are all safe now, but warns that “he” is waiting on the other side. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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