Prince of Darkness Movie Poster

Trivia for Prince of Darkness

Showing all 77 items
Jump to: Spoilers (21)
  • (at around 25 mins) When Dr. Leahy introduces himself to Dr. Birack, Peter Jason wasn't expecting Victor Wong to walk away in the middle of the scene. Jason's subsequent confused appearance and awkwardness is natural and unscripted.
  • The movie was shot in just over 30 days.
  • Alice Cooper used the bike impalement trick in his stage shows prior to this movie. The bike he uses was his own personal prop.
  • This is the second film in what John Carpenter calls his "Apocalypse Trilogy". The other two are The Thing (1982) and In the Mouth of Madness (1994).
  • When Brian and Catherine are in bed in the morning, Brian says to her, "Who was he, the one that gave you such a high opinion of men?" This is a fairly well known quote (among others) from To Have and Have Not (1944), only the sexes are reversed here. The original has Lauren Bacall saying, "Who was the girl, Steve?" To which Humphrey Bogart replies, "Who was what girl?" And she responds, "The one who left you with such a high opinion of women."
  • Screenwriter John Carpenter is credited as "Martin Quatermass". The pseudonym is a homage to Professor Bernard Quatermass, the lead character of The Quatermass Experiment (1953) and several subsequent TV series and film versions. In the original press notes he was described as 'the brother of Professor Bernard Quatermass, head of the British rocket programme.' In a further nod to Carpenter's influences, the character Wyndham is named after science-fiction author John Wyndham and Anne Howard's character is named after the star of The Wasp Woman (1959), Susan Cabot.
  • Donald Pleasence's character is referred to in the script only as "Priest".
  • Peter Jason hurt his shoulder in the scene where he and Jameson Parker try to break the front doors of the church down to escape. He claims that the pain still flares up to this day.
  • Jameson Parker, who plays Brian, was sporting an old leg injury he picked up while making TV series Simon & Simon (1981), and would sometimes need to rest in his trailer because of the pain.
  • The audio of the "broadcasts" that Brian receives in his dreams was sampled by Marilyn Manson in the song "Down In The Park" originally performed by Gary Numan. It is also sampled on DJ Shadow's album 'Endtroducing...'
  • While Dennis Dun and Victor Wong worked together with John Carpenter on Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Donald Pleasence worked with Carpenter on Halloween (1978) and Escape from New York (1981). It was the first time Peter Jason worked with Carpenter and would later work together on They Live (1988), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), Village of the Damned (1995), Escape from L.A. (1996), and Ghosts of Mars (2001).
  • The first time that Gary B. Kibbe worked as a Director of Photography for John Carpenter. Since then, they had worked together on every movie except for Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and The Ward (2010).
  • John Carpenter's first film that he made independently since Escape from New York (1981). Not only because of the box office failure of his previous film Big Trouble in Little China (1986), but also his frustration with working with the studios.
  • Although the film wasn't John Carpenter's first screenplay that he wrote since Escape from New York (1981), it was the first film since Escape that he directed but credited himself as "Martin Quatermass". A similar thing he did on They Live (1988) but under the name "Frank Armitage".
  • The first of two films that John Carpenter made with Alive Films. The second film they made was They Live (1988).
  • The parts played by Donald Pleasence, Victor Wong and Dennis Dun were written specifically for them by John Carpenter due to his enjoyable prior collaborations with them.
  • Several scenes were shot at the University of Southern California, which John Carpenter attended as a film student.
  • Peter Jason came up with the idea for the mouth trumpet routine.
  • The recurring dream was shot on video and filmed off of a television screen.
  • Mercury was used for the reaching through the mirror shots.
  • Jameson Parker came up with the idea for the card trick.
  • John Carpenter claims to have been fascinated with religion ever since watching the old Hammer horror films and how Holy Water would destroy vampires.
  • John Carpenter states he set out to make a film that was atmospheric and dreadful. At the time he was noticing a lot of derivative horror films and wanted to try something new involving quantum mechanics and religion.
  • John Carpenter mentions the film died a swift death in theaters but found life, like many of his films, on video.
  • Alice Cooper states he was directed to act emotionless and "brain dead" by John Carpenter. The street people were "soul-less".
  • Alice Cooper originally asked John Carpenter if he could come to set just to watch a special effect, due to Cooper's manager also producing the film. Carpenter eventually decided to offer Cooper a role as the leader of the anti-God-worshiping street people. Ironically, Cooper became a born-again Christian in later life.
  • Alice Cooper believes the film is ripe for a sequel, claiming he wants to see more than just the anti-God's hand but the whole thing.
  • The genesis of the project came from Debra Hill describing a dream she had of a vague dark figure exiting a church which filled her with dread. John Carpenter developed the story around this idea in hopes of recreating the fear Hill really felt.
  • The film takes place in 1987 and 1999.
  • When Etchinson is cornered in the alley by the homeless people, he is listening to "Prince of Darkness" by Alice Cooper on his headphones, just as he is about to be killed by the character played by Cooper.
  • On the Audio-Commentary of the DVD John Carpenter and Peter Jason talk about the scary Masks that were already prepared for the movie and were unfortunately destroyed in a fire while filming.
  • The central location of the film is a church named Saint Godard's. 'anti God' can be formed by rearranging some of the letters.
  • Although the fictional St. Goddard's appears to be in a fairly remote neighborhood of the city, in reality the church where exteriors were filmed, 120 Judge John Aiso Street, is only two blocks from Los Angeles City Hall.
  • The film was budgeted at $3 million, shot in about thirty days, and was Carpenter's "return to horror" after Starman and Big Trouble in Little China.
  • Peter Jason recalled being given the script by Carpenter and asked what he'd "like to do with the character." He was thrown by the director's question. "Well you're an actor aren't you?" explained Carpenter, "so what did you come back and do for me?" Jason went and got some tips from his friend, David Warner, including the idea of returning from the dead and being in great pain.
  • Jason had suggested having the seven people who return as zombies represent the seven deadly sins, but Carpenter nixed it as it would have required to many rewrites.
  • Carpenter refers to the priest who dies during the opening credits as "a Sentinel-type guy" in a nod to 1977's The Sentinel.
  • The opening university scenes were filmed at Carpenter's alma mater, the University of Southern California. "I spent many happy years at SC as a film student. I learned everything about how to make movies there."
  • This was Gary B. Kibbe's first film as director of photography, and he would go on to shoot seven more Carpenter films eight if you count Blood River, a TV western written but not directed by Carpenter.
  • On the commentary, when Martin Quatermass' name appears onscreen (pseudonym for the film's writer John Carpenter), Carpenter himself jokingly points out that "he's a personal friend of mine, a fine, fine man." Peter Jason asks what he's working on now, and Carpenter replies "I think he retired, I heard he's an alcoholic. He's writing, but nobody wants to read what he writes."
  • The church basement is actually in a big, run down building in Long Beach that used to be a popular ballroom. It was falling apart during production, and the cast and crew had to sign waivers stating that they wouldn't sue if anyone was injured.
  • Carpenter's love of science led to the story idea involving quantum mechanics and the crossroads of science and religion. He had become fascinated with quantum uncertainty after reading several books on the subject, but he ultimately felt it was impossible to explain. "It was all mumbo-jumbo anyway, it was just a horror movie," he says. Jason suggests that the script touches on just enough of it to catch and hold viewers' interest.
  • Carpenter and Alan Howarth completed the score in 4-5 weeks. "All my scores are basically improvised," he says. He watches the scenes on a "TV set" and creates the themes on the spot using a 24-track recorder linked into the film to layer in sounds. ."There's two kinds of scoring in movies. One is the kind of, underscore, minimalist idea, and one is Mickey Mousing." The latter was made famous by Max Steiner (Casablanca, Gone with the Wind). "For instance, in King Kong, every step that King Kong made is scored bom! bom! bom! bom! Every emotion is scored. That's Mickey Mousing." Carpenter's opinion of the style in general is that "everything is scored so heavily that you haven't got a chance to miss anything." He also adds that "John Williams is the biggest, most famous Mickey Mouser of all."
  • John Carpenter first met Alice Cooper at Wrestlemania, and the performer shared his desire to be in a horror film. Carpenter said okay but only if he could use Cooper's "impaling gag" from his onstage shows.
  • Peter Jason's first feature was Howard Hawks' last, Rio Lobo (1970). He got to die in John Wayne's arms. Carpenter had seen the film at a preview in a longer version than what was ultimately released, and he recalls Jason's death scene lasting longer. "It was a literal replay of the death scene in Only Angels Have Wings (1939)."
  • Donald Pleasence wasn't keen on driving and got lost once coming to the set which caused him to be late on his first day. That incident led to having other people drive him around. "I got to take him back home to the Chateau Marmont one day," says Peter Jason, "and I'm telling you it was the most fun I ever had. He was scared to death the whole way."
  • The only time Peter Jason recalls seeing Carpenter "lose it" was the day they shot the group scene of everyone at the church shortly before everything goes to hell. "You got disappointed with one person. I won't say who it is, but that person couldn't get their line right. Every movie I've ever done with you, I've never seen you lose your cool, but you were so upset with this one person."
  • (at around 51 mins) The insert shot of the bag lady raising the knife in the air while running, was accomplished by having the performer stand in one spot while a truck loaded with bricks rolls past in the background.
  • The bruise symbol that appears on Kelly's right arm close to the ankle (a four-armed star with a hook pointing to the left to replace lower arm), was swiped of the cover from 1972 Blue Öyster Cult's eponymous album.
  • The card trick was Parker's idea. "See? I use actor's ideas when they bring me good ones," says Carpenter. "Come up with something good, I'll use it."
  • According to the film's commentary track, Peter Jason hurt his shoulder at the (1:07:46) mark, and he still complains about the pain to this day. "That?" says an incredulous and unimpressed Carpenter as the scene plays.
  • The mirror gag was accomplished in part by using mercury. They drained the poisonous material from their on-set hydraulic dollies and cranes and used it for the bit where the character dips her fingers and hand into the reflective pool (they returned the mercury back into the machinery afterward). Due to mercury being highly toxic, the arm is a prosthetic (explaining why the character's watch doesn't fit). The reverse of the shot with the character's fingers poking through into the darkness was shot inside a covered swimming pool.
  • Lisa Blount was scared to shoot the scene where she and Susan Blanchard dive into the dark water. It was very dark, and she was uncertain about holding her breath for the shot of her reaching towards the surface. Carpenter has since apologized to her.
  • "It's one of my most-controlled films visually," says Carpenter. "Every shot I can see, every shot is basically set to a purpose, where in some films I will let things go. I will let it be more loose, I'll let actors improvise. Every shot in here is specifically designed to communicate something." He credits the budget with forcing him to be more precise.
  • Anne Howard was on the daytime soap opera Another World at the time where she played Nicole Love.
  • (at around 40 mins) When Lisa is translating the book of the Brotherhood of Sleep to the team, behind her, Calder can be seen making the sign of cross himself.

Spoilers

  • John Carpenter claims the most difficult effect was the claw coming out of the mirror. They drained mercury from a crane to create the effect of a pool of silver liquid.
  • The green swirling goo is Anti-God's son, not Anti-God himself.
  • (at around 10 mins) Apparently unconnected with the events of the movie, Brian watches a news bulletin on TV about the discovery of a new supernova dating back to the Precambrian era (4,600-541 million years ago), the light of which is finally arriving at planet Earth. It coincides with Satan's appearance, implying that the arrival of the supernova's light marks the time for his return as a living being after spending seven million years inside a glass cylinder as a green liquid, possessing The Chosen One (Kelly) for his return.
  • (at around 38 mins) As Susan Cabot reveals to Mullins, the tap of the glass cylinder is seven million years old.
  • (at around 44 mins) Walter is seen eating an apple. In the Holy Bible, the apple is the symbol of forbidden knowledge. Eating an apple from the Forbidden Tree forced the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, after the two had been warned not to touch it.
  • (at around 40 mins) After being possessed by cylinder's green liquid, Susan Cabot no longer wears glasses. It signifies that the green liquid is capable of correcting any physical fault.
  • (at around 1h 32 mins) When Kelly (possessed by Satan) tries to free Anti-God from the other side of the great mirror, she uses her left hand to take Anti-God's hand and pull him across the mirror. In Christianity, the left side is associated with evil. In the Book of Matthew, referring to the last Day of Judgment, it's written: "He shall separate all nations one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (goats are commonly related to Satan as another symbol of evil). When (at around 1h 38 mins) Brian closes to a mirror, he also approaches the left hand to touch it.
  • (at around 39 mins) According to Lisa's translation, the glass cylinder was buried in the Middle East some million years ago by Father Satan (Anti-God), a god that ruled planet Earth. He was exiled by the human race, although before that, he sealed his own son Satan, waiting for the right time to come back. Following the same translation, Jesus Christ was an extraterrestrial of human shape who came from another world to protect the human race from Anti-God, gaining power between the humans to fight Father Satan and hide the glass cylinder that imprisoned Satan, until the time when the human race possessed a level of technology advanced enough to defeat him.
  • (at around 39 mins) The main plot of the movie (established by Lisa after she reads her translation of the Brotherhood of Sleep' book) is loosely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's works, called Mythos of Cthulhu. In these works, a race of evil ancient gods called Outer Gods (Anti-God in the movie) ruled Earth millions of years ago, until they were exiled by another race. The Outer Gods are waiting for their return when the stars are rightly aligned, to conquer Earth again and enslave the human race. As in the movie, the Outer Gods can influence some human beings, making them worshippers or followers (all the homeless in the movie), while there are also cults hidden to the public eye (the Brotherhood of Sleep) working secretly to prevent the Outer Gods from returning and attempting to reinstate their former dominions. Very interestingly, John Carpenter filmed two other movies inspired by Lovecraft's works, The Thing (1982) and In the Mouth of Madness (1994) (called his Apocalypse Trilogy).
  • (at around 42 mins) Kelly jokes to Catherine about the use of "a wreath of garlic, a benediction, a crucifix". All these things are common items used to defeat vampires. Years later, John Carpenter directed a vampire movie, Vampires (1998).
  • (at around 1h 2 mins) Talking about the recurring dream that the main characters have, Brian comments on tachyons. In physics, a tachyon (from the Greek words "tachy" and "ion" which means "fast" and "going") is a theoretical subatomic particle that is capable of moving faster than light. Since nothing is known to be capable of moving faster than light, tachyons would move back in time, and can thus be used to send a message from one time to a previous one, in order to warn others about a determined event.
  • Robert Grasmere's character is called Frank Wyndham. The name is a composite of two celebrated writers: Frank Herbert, creator of Dune's franchise, and John Wyndham, author of The Midwich Cuckoos, amongst others. Oddly enough, John Carpenter directed Village of the Damned (1995) years later, based on Wyndham's novel and a remake of the original Village of the Damned (1960).
  • Body Count: 11 (Father Carlton, Etchison, Susan Cabot, Mullins, Frank Wyndham, Lisa, Calder, Paul Leahy, Lomax, Kelly and Catherine).
  • (at around 31 mins) Brian tells Kelly and Walter that Catherine is working on differential equations written in the 2,000 year-old book belonging to the Brotherhood of Sleep, with Walter rejecting it since differential equations didn't exist 2,000 years ago. A differential equation relates to one or more functions and their derivatives, can be applied to represent physical quantities, and define a relationship between the two rates of change, playing a prominent role in many disciplines including engineering, physics, economics, and biology. The concept of differential equation was established by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Isaac Newton in 1693.
  • (at around 31 mins) Catherine Danforth and Mullins watch as the windows of the church are full of slugs and worms. These shots were filmed in reverse, as it can be seen that the slugs and worms slide up the window instead of down.
  • (at around 32 mins) As Howard Birack watches Lisa's translation of the Brotherhood of Sleep's book on the computer, the movie title can be read on the screen computer: "And the Prince of Darkness was sealed Himself, that old life, called the Devil or Satan, which deceiveth the whole world".
  • (at around 33 mins) A bored Walter is seen watching a cartoon on TV. This cartoon is Heavenly Puss (1949), a Tom & Jerry short where Tom dies pursuing Jerry. He goes to Heaven, but is prevented from entering because of all the wrongs he has done to Jerry. In order to get into Heaven, Tom has to obtain a letter of forgiveness signed by Jerry within one hour; if he fails, he will go to Hell.
  • Each time that a character in the movie (Priest, Birack, Brian Marsh, etc) watches the skies, they see a crescent moon aligned with the sun. It's a nod for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), where the human ancestors watch a similar alignment between a crescent moon, the sun and the monolith, prior to be evolved by the monolith.
  • (at around 1h 37 mins) The dream shared by Brian, Birack and the rest of characters is revealed to be a message from 1999, when Satan will return. The year 2000 has traditionally be associated with the coming of the Antichrist, and in this year, End of Days (1999) was released, a movie about Satan's return to Earth to establish an evil realm.
  • (at around 1h 0 mins) When Calder meets a possessed Lisa, she is seated behind the computer, repeatedly writing "I Live!" on it. When he gets closer, Lisa writes "You will not be saved by the Holy Ghost. You will not be saved by the god Plutonium. In fact, YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED". The Holy Ghost, also called the Holy Spirit, is a Christian character that is a figuration of the spirit of God (usually represented by painters as a white dove) and considered the third element of the Sacred Trinity formed by Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which symbolizes to have soul, breath and be alive (power of life). Altough the god Plutonium doesn't exists as such, it refers the Roman god Pluto (equivalent to the Greek god Hades), who rules the Underworld, the land of dead. However, Plutonium as such exists as a radioactive chemical element (symbol Pu), with the atomic number 94 in the periodic table of elements.
  • (at around 29 mins) Translating the Brotherhood of Sleep's book, Lisa writes on the computer: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots, and The Abominations on Earth". Babylon was the capital of Babylonia, belonging to the Chaldean empire, and a kingdom of the ancient Mesopotamia between the 18th and 6th centuries BC. In the Holy Bible, Babylon was destroyed by God due to its inhabitants falling to corruption, idolatry and pride, in addition to their attempt to reach God by raising the Tower of Babel, a giant building that was supposed to reach to the Heavens.
Movie details provided by