Prince of Darkness Movie Poster

Trivia for Prince of Darkness

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  • 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.
  • Rock singer Alice Cooper is among the hordes of homeless people that surround the church during the film.
  • 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, Father Loomis, is named after the character he played in the Halloween movies.
  • 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 scene where Wyndham (Robert Grasmere) is stabbed by the bag-lady at the back of the church is inspired by a similar stabbing scene in the Terence Fisher movie The Curse of the Werewolf (1961).
  • 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 street people.
  • 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 joined Carpenter for the commentary and takes the blame for momentarily confusing the director as to which film they're there discussing. "I probably confused you because I was in Ghosts of Mars also," he says, to which Carpenter replies "I know, you've been in almost everything I've done. Well, not really." For those keeping track, Jason starred in seven of Carpenter's twenty-one films: Ghosts of Mars, Escape from L.A., Village of the Damned, In the Mouth of Madness, Body Bags, They Live, and Prince of Darkness.
  • Jason recalls 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?" says 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."
  • The church used in the exterior shots is located at 1st & Los Angeles St in L.A. according to Peter Jason. "I was born in Hollywood, but I went down there." Jason says IMDB lists him as being born in New York in 1950, but he was actually born in Los Angeles in 1944. The page has since been fixed.
  • Victor Wong died shortly before the commentary was recorded, and both Carpenter and Jason show a real affection for their time spent working with him. He had a tough childhood, the left side of his face was paralyzed, he suffered from tuberculosis, he spent time in a sanitarium but he was an energetic joy as a performer. "And he always had a great story, and you never knew what it was about," adds Jason.
  • 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 as the film's writer Carpenter points out that "he's a personal friend of mine, a fine, fine man." 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.
  • The green swirling goo is the anti-god's son, not the anti-god himself.
  • 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.
  • Jason's first feature "was Howard Hawks' last, Rio Lobo." 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."
  • 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 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 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."
  • Carpenter and jason share several random tidbits about Jameson Parker. He had an injury from his time on Simon & Simon that was never addressed and that caused him daily pain. The mustache is real. He's a devout Christian. He was shot by a man who called Parker's wife a "whore." He has two dogs, and Jason called him "a double dog gent."
  • It's at the (45:57) mark where Carpenter slapped my forehead and realized the "young Dirk Blocker here is the old Dirk Blocker on Brooklyn Nine-Nine."
  • At 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 dreams were shot on video and then filmed off of a TV set.
  • The bruise symbol that appears on Kelly's arm, was swiped from a Blue Oyster Cult album cover.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • They did post-production work including the editing and sound mix at Walt Disney Studios.
  • Jason seems unable to grasp the concept of bug-wranglers and asks multiple times, every time bugs appear onscreen where the bugs came from, how they were shot, and who picked them afterwards. He's doing it in part to mess with Carpenter, and it works.
  • The mirror gag was accomplished in part 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 to the machinery afterward.) The arm is a prosthetic, which also answers my decades' old question as to why the character's watch didn't fit. The reverse of the shot her 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.
  • Carpenter lights and smokes approximately three to four cigarettes, during the commentary.

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.
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