Rewatching some barely-remembered Carpenter movies this month, and this one turned out much better than The Fog. Science vs. Satan as priest Donald Pleasence unlocks an ancient chamber with a swirling green portal inside, and calls in a team of professors (who bring along their grad students) to attempt to halt the apocalypse. We know that’s at stake since they all have the same night visions (“you are receiving this broadcast as a dream”). As the church starts to attract worms, insects, and dirty weirdo humans seemingly led by Alice Cooper, the teams inside get to work analyzing and translating.
When the ancient texts of mysterious origin say that Jesus was a humanoid alien, evil is a real physical substance, and the son of satan is locked in the chamber, lifelong priest Pleasence is quick to discount all Christianity and believe this new thing. The green chamber shoots foul liquid at Meg-Ryanish Susan, who becomes evil and starts to kill people or drive them outside using plagues of beetles. Translator Lisa also gets juiced, oh no, then Kelly with a cross-shaped bruise absorbs the remaining liquid and becomes very evil indeed, looking for a mirror through which she can pull Satan into the world. Pleasence and student Catherine team up to stop this, but Cath falls through the mirror, in one of Carpenter’s most astounding scenes. Apocalypse not averted, now the dream transmissions show a possessed Cath standing menacingly in the “Saint Godard” church doorway.
Great music, of course. Our university group includes Victor Wong and Dennis Dun, both of Big Trouble in Little China. Doomed redhead Cath is Lisa Blount of Dead & Buried and Radioactive Dreams, her sad mustache boyfriend is Jameson Parker of White Dog. The first girl to get juiced is Anne Marie Howard of identical twin thriller Twinsanity, the girl who becomes very evil is Susan Blanchard of Russkies, and the Black Guy Who Does Not Die First is Jessie Lawrence Ferguson of Darkman.