An ancient evil has awakened, and it is in liquid form! Father Loomis (Donald Pleasance) receives a key from another, now deceased, priest, and with this key opens himself up to a whole new realm of knowledge that the Roman Catholic church has kept secret for quite some time now. Father Loomis enlists the aid of a brilliant physicist, Prof. Howard Birack (Victor Wong), and some of his graduate students to help him unravel this archaic mystery. Without knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into, several experts in the fields of chemistry, biology, and ancient texts set out to investigate the undisclosed enigma.
Deep within the sanctuary of a run down church lies a dirty little secret few know about. The Prince of Darkness, son of the devil himself, is being held captive in liquid form, and is guarded by only a few lucky priests and nuns. However, the time has come for the Prince to awaken and bring forth his father to wreak havoc. As the Prince, and thus his father, gains his strength, many of the more weak-minded are turned to do the biding of the dark lord. The zombie and bug counts rise as the plot thickens, and this group of science professors and students are in a race against time to stop the forces of evil from inflicting their ill will on the unsuspecting public.
Unfortunately, this film tends to be hidden in the shadows behind Carpenter's more famous "Halloween" and "The Thing." However, that does make this film all that much more of a gem. This is truly one of his great cinematic accomplishments, complete with his own score, a great cast, and stellar effects for the time. The characters are fairly well developed, yet Carpenter manages to accomplish this without dwelling on this aspect of the film. Instead, he submerges the viewer into the intrigue and story line, which there is plenty of.
The plot is completely original, which is something hard to come by in this particular genre. Though Carpenter enlists certain elements that may be stereotypical, such as the Romero-esque zombies and the notion of all-encompassing evil attempting to over-take good, Carpenter adds his own unique twists. One thing that's absolutely superb with regards to this film is that it never devolves into a gore or suspense filled vacuum, completely devoid of meaning. Hidden within the blatant horror facets are religious undertones as well as a love story. Though it may seem that this would not work well for a film of this genre, Carpenter pulls it off as only a horror master could. Interspersed throughout the film one can also find excellently cheesy comic relief, mostly in the form of poor jokes presented by Walter (Dennis Dun).
All in all this movie happens to be one of my favorite films, by one of my favorite directors. Thought the DVD is completely bereft of extras, I highly recommend this film to any fan of the genre!