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Prince of Darkness

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    89
    from 5 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • John Carpenter's 'Prince of Darkness' is an atmospheric cult classic with a notable 4K UHD upgrade.

    Prince of Darkness 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    89
  • The TCL 55P607 UHD provides detailed comparisons of HDR-10 and Dolby Vision, showcasing Prince of Darkness' stellar 4K transfer and nuanced visuals, all recommended by experts.

  • Audio
    89
  • Dolby Atmos upgrades enhance immersion with precise dialogue, atmospheric use, and superb music fidelity, while maintaining original sound character and crisp effects, despite some limitations in using overhead channels.

  • Extra
    82
  • The Prince of Darkness Ultra HD release pairs Carpenter's insight with Jason in commentary, enriching it with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, a unique TV opening, extensive touring of filming locales, and a showcase of horror scores, catering extensively to enthusiasts' curiosity and Carpenter's cinematic legacy.

  • Movie
    83
  • John Carpenter's 'Prince of Darkness' combines horror with science and theology, exploring an ancient evil unleashed by a curious team, facing both skepticism and apocalyptic threats.

    Video: 89

    The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of "Prince of Darkness" by Shout Factory marks a significant upgrade from its previous editions, presenting the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a 2160p resolution, and bringing it to life with either Dolby Vision or HDR-10 options. Utilizing the same 4K scan of the original camera negative as the 2018 Studio Canal release, this version was supervised and approved by cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe, ensuring an authentic and carefully graded high dynamic range enhancement. Despite the inherently subtle contrast of the film, due to its moody and atmospheric nature, both highlight details and shadow depth are improved, providing a more nuanced visual experience that remains true to the filmmakers' intentions. The grain structure, while light to moderate, preserves the filmic texture without succumbing to overt softness or visible artifacting, barring minor anamorphic lens characteristics inherent to the source material.

    The HEVC H.265 encode excels in delivering cleaner lines and more defined details across a range of scenes—from the intricate architecture of the church to the grimy alleys of the city—while maintaining a faithful representation of the original color palette. Even though contrast might not be as pronounced as in more vibrantly shot films, the transfer achieves a clear improvement over the Blu-ray version, enhancing white levels and specular highlights for added visual depth. Specific hues, such as the eerie greens of the Satan juice and the vibrant reds of Lisa Blount’s hair, are more dynamic and vivid, thanks to this restrained yet effectively managed color grading.

    Notwithstanding some critiques regarding flesh tones leaning towards orange and black levels losing detail in darker scenes, this release generally hits the mark in improving upon its predecessors, offering a balanced and visually engaging experience. Attention to detail in shadow delineation and color accuracy contributes to both atmospheric immersion and cinematic appeal, making this edition an essential upgrade for fans and collectors alike. The restoration efforts have notably paid off, with a presentation that enhances both the clarity and the moodiness of John Carpenter's classic while preserving its original grain and texture for an authentic viewing experience.

    Audio: 89

    The audio presentation of "Prince of Darkness" on Blu Ray, especially the Dolby Atmos mix, is a study in understated yet effective sound design that respects the original material while enhancing it for modern home theater systems. The Dolby Atmos mix, though labeled as laid-back, perfectly complements the film's atmosphere, primarily utilizing the overhead channels for atmospheric and musical elements rather than aggressive directional effects. This choice ensures that the soundstage feels broad and immersive without overwhelming the listener with unnecessary overhead noise. The score, handled with great fidelity, extends well into the sides and heights, enriching the viewing experience with warmth and clear distinction in instrumentation. Despite its reserved use of overhead channels, the mix achieves an engaging half-dome soundstage, keeping viewers enveloped in the film's unique soundscape.

    The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix is notable for its pronounced authority, delivering a crisp sonic experience from the outset. Deep, rumbly synth elements and precise instrumentation create a suspenseful ambiance that extends beyond the central channels into the surrounds, enhancing the film's suspenseful moments and eerie tone. Dialogue is sharp and clear across all scenes, whether in calm exposition or amidst chaos, without any distortion. Sound effects are well-defined, capturing the essence of horror with an accurate portrayal of ambient and direct sounds. This mix demonstrates an exceptional balance between clarity and immersion, effectively utilizing the surround channels to support the film's storytelling with atmospheric sounds and well-placed effects.

    Both mixes showcase an excellent range and depth, with a strong low-end presence that adds weight to the musical score and on-screen action without overpowering. Enhanced by a clean bass response, the audio presentation ensures that both music and effects contribute meaningful depth to the overall experience. While offering multiple listening options, including DTS-HD MA tracks in both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound, the Blu Ray prioritizes modernized audio experiences without sacrificing the film's original sonic character. This careful balancing act results in a sound presentation that is both respectful of its roots and splendidly adapted for contemporary audiences.

    Extra: 82

    The "Prince of Darkness" Blu-ray presentation is bolstered by an impressive array of extras, headlined by insightful audio commentaries featuring John Carpenter and actor Peter Jason, offering fans a deeper understanding of the film's production and thematic depth. Interviews with key figures, including Carpenter, Alice Cooper, Robert Grasmere, and Alan Howarth, not only shed light on the creative process behind the film but also provide personal anecdotes and technical details that enrich the viewing experience. The "Horror's Hallowed Grounds" featurette, alternate opening, theatrical trailer, and a unique photo gallery further complement the package, alongside a compelling Q&A session with Carpenter and a rare look at the film's TV opening. This collection of extras showcases the enduring legacy and influence of "Prince of Darkness," making it a must-have for aficionados of Carpenter's oeuvre.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary with John Carpenter and Peter Jason: Engaging discussions and insights from the film's director and co-star.
    • Sympathy For The Devil: An interview with John Carpenter about his career and the making of Prince of Darkness.
    • Alice At The Apocalypse: Alice Cooper talks about his role and his love for horror.
    • The Messenger: Robert Grasmere discusses his dual role as actor and special visual effects supervisor.
    • Hell On Earth: A deep dive into the film's score with co-composer Alan Howarth.
    • Horror's Hallowed Grounds: A tour of the film's shooting locations with host Sean Clark.
    • Alternate Opening From The TV Version: Provides a unique start to the movie.
    • Theatrical Trailer: Promotion for the original cinema release.
    • Radio Spots: Short audio promotional pieces for the film.
    • Still Gallery: A collection of behind-the-scenes photos, publicity shots, and film stills.

    Movie: 83

    In John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness," the legendary filmmaker returns to his horror roots, presenting a story that mixes science and metaphysics with a classic tale of good versus evil. The movie, set against the eerie backdrop of an abandoned church, unravels when a group of physics students, led by Professor Birack (Victor Wong) and invited by a mysterious Priest (Donald Pleasance), discovers an ancient canister containing a sinister looking green liquid. This discovery, meant to bridge the gap between science and religion, inadvertently unleashes an apocalyptical force, challenging the characters' understanding of reality itself. Combining elements of theological dread with the empirical quest for knowledge, Carpenter crafts a narrative that's as intellectually stimulating as it is horrifying, making "Prince of Darkness" a unique addition to the horror genre.

    Carpenter's direction and screenplay—under the pseudonym Martin Quatermass—delivers a cerebral horror that weaves together themes of science, religion, and metaphysics. The film strays from conventional scares to engage the audience with its exploration of the Anti-God and its attempt to breach our world. Despite some stilted dialogue and a few miscasting issues, Carpenter's use of tension, complemented by a haunting score created with Alan Howarth, maintains a palpable sense of dread throughout. The slow-burn approach, reminiscent of Hammer Films but enriched with theoretical discussions, positions "Prince of Darkness" as a thinker's horror movie; it demands contemplation from its viewers, challenging them to consider the essence of evil beyond mere supernatural manifestations.

    Moreover, Carpenter's film is a commentary on human arrogance and the fallibility of both science and religion in truly comprehending and countering ancient, unfathomable evils. As the story unfolds—marked by body-snatching horror reminiscent of zombie films—the philosophical underpinnings become apparent. Carpenter critiques the hubris of humanity's intellectual endeavors, suggesting that in our eagerness to understand and categorize the universe, we might just be playing into the hands of an indescribable evil. Despite its initial mixed reception and being considered lower-tier Carpenter by some, "Prince of Darkness" has garnered a growing appreciation for its ambitious fusion of genres and innovative take on horror, making it a fascinating study in how terror can be both intellectually engaging and deeply unsettling.

    Total: 89

    Prince of Darkness," a notable entry in John Carpenter's filmography, finds its way into the 4K Ultra HD realm courtesy of Shout! Factory, offering an intriguing blend of genre filmmaking enhanced by a substantial audiovisual upgrade. It features an Ultra HD video rendering that faithfully respects the original atmosphere, augmented by an immersive Dolby Atmos soundscape that enriches the viewing experience, also available on the Blu-ray version. This release offers diehard Carpenter fans, especially those equipped for 4K/HDR/Dolby Atmos playback, a worthy addition to their collection, while newcomers might consider a rental first. Carpenter's ambition with a semi-baffling script and an underlying air of apocalyptic uncertainty imbues the film with a unique flavor, despite occasional pacing issues and familiar horror tropes.

    The "Prince of Darkness" is enigmatic, boasting moments of eerie atmosphere and nightmarish imagery intrinsic to Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy. This release, being the third disc iteration from Scream Factory, stands out primarily for its A/V presentation, featuring exceptional Dolby Vision HDR video and Dolby Atmos audio. While it maintains legacy bonus material, the upgrade in visual and sonic quality alone makes this edition highly recommended for fans and collectors. Carpenter's blend of horror with elements of science fiction, against the backdrop of an impending apocalypse led by a memorable turn from Alice Cooper, captures a distinctive 80s horror essence that benefits from modern technological advancements in home cinema.

    In conclusion, "Prince of Darkness" on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Shout! Factory represents a significant technical improvement over previous editions, delivering a compelling cinematic experience through superior video and audio quality. Despite being a polarizing entry in Carpenter's oeuvre, its presentation here is bound to attract enthusiasts eager to explore its depths and those looking for an exemplary demonstration of genre filmmaking brought to life with current home entertainment technology.