Carpenter made a deal with Alive Pictures, where he was given a budget of $3 million per picture and complete creative control to make whatever he wanted. Both Prince Of Darkness and They Live would stem from that deal.
Big Trouble in Little China actors Victor Wong and Dennis Dun joined Escape From New York and Halloween‘s Donald Pleasence in the film alongside Peter Jason (who would ultimately star in 6 Carpenter films). Carpenter states that Prince Of Darkness is the second instalment of his “Apocalypse Trilogy”. The first being 1982’s The Thing and the final being 1994’s In the Mouth of Madness.
Prince Of Darkness sees Wong’s professor leading a team of quantum physics students in helping Pleasence’s priest in uncovering the meaning of a mysterious cylinder of green liquid. The cylinder was discovered in the basement of an abandoned Los Angeles church – it turns out the liquid is pure evil which is trying to manifest itself into a physical being in attempt to have Satan once again walk the earth.
Written by Carpenter under the pseudonym, Martin Quatermass (a nod the the Quatermass and the Pit), Prince of Darkness is an excellent exercise in atmosphere and tension. The film features an wonderful score from Carpenter and Alan Howarth as well as a cameo from Alice Cooper, who is credited as ‘Street Schizo’.
Budgeted at $3 million, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness grossed $14.1 million at the US box office in 1987.