Long regarded as John Carpenter’s first outright failure, Prince of Darkness is perhaps the greatest satanic horror story-by-way-of-quantum physics ever put to film. Which doesn’t, admittedly, make it all that great. But what’s lacking in Carpenter’s wacked-out thriller – decent make-up for his demonically possessed ghouls, passable performances from his bland cast, a credit sequence that runs under 15 minutes – is made up for by an insidious atmosphere of apocalyptic doom and a unique script (by Carpenter, using the pseudonym Martin Quatermass) that attempts to provide a real-world scientific explanation for supernatural phenomena. The director’s trademark electronic score is eerily effective, and Donald Pleasance, as a priest named (believe it or not) Loomis, is his usual over-the-top campy self. There’s no getting around the fact that this ludicrous saga about the return of Satan – who has been trapped for centuries (by a secret Church organization) in a vat of gooey liquid which he telekinetically shoots into PhD candidates’ mouths as a means of possessing them – is overburdened with near-incomprehensible exposition about tachyon particles and other such mumbo jumbo. Plus, there’s a strange implication that homeless people (including a pasty-faced Alice Cooper) are easily possessed by the Devil because they’re inferior beings on par with red ants. Nonetheless, with his reasonably chilling film’s finale, Carpenter shrewdly complements his gory scares with tantalizing, time travel-tinged paradoxes.