Story: An old priest dies, leaving a key to a basement…OF DOOM. Father Donald Pleasance asks a metaphysics professor and a group of top grad students to help figure out what to do with the huge (slowly leaking) container in said basement. But don’t they know not to go anywhere alone? *cue green goo in the face* Susan, what’s wrong?
Splat factor: So much icky, Ghostbusters-y stuff. So much.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Meh. Not really. Jump scare, and a nice “Choose Your Adventure” coda.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original. The second of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy (along with The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness.)
Trick or Treat?: This mashup of horror and science fiction combines religion, metaphysics, psychology, dreams, and a kitchen sink of philosophical debate. Toss in some found footage-esque sequences, and there’s a whole lot of crazy going on. Fans of films like The Haunting, The Legend of Hell House, and The Void can find much to sink their teeth into here.
Once things get going, the slime-puking possessed are creepy and gross, and Carpenter adds just enough characterization to make these possessions hurt. Sadly, I can’t say the same about the main couple of the story; the guy is “sexist and proud of it!”, and the gal is a cipher. Yeah, the possessed don’t get much better fleshing out, but at least they seem sympathetic before the goo hits the fan. Ah well.
Once you get past the strange editing of the first twenty minutes or so, Prince is quite the unsettling story. There’s lots of chills, along with the usual “who’s next” suspense. For folks like me who are at best a dilettante when it comes to metaphysics, it may take a rewind to really grok the mythology here. Matter, anti-matter, God, the Bible, and the nature of man all get thrown against the wall, and damn if it doesn’t stick. I found myself in a YouTube philosophy spiral after watching this movie, desperate to get a better handle on what was being debated in this film.
The visuals hold up, thanks to a lot of onscreen FX. The climactic possession is absolutely gooey, as if the human body can’t handle whatever Being is now running its show. Makeup for the homeless who are controlled by the evil presence is okay, except for the paleface on Alice Cooper (YES). Just let Alice do his own thing. He’s had decades of experience…
Ready to blend Lovecraftian horror with philosophy and theology? Buckle up, and be prepared to get sucked in. Maybe keep your mouth closed while watching though. Just in case.
Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins. (I feel like 3.5 could be a truer rating, but damn I love that metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.)