This is Not a Dream…Not a Dream: Experiencing Prince of Darkness Where it was Made

Earlier this year news was going around that a special screening of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness would be happening at the church where a majority of the film takes place. Being a diehard Carpenter fan and always the one at parties to complain that PoD tends to be forgotten about when the topic turns to his films—The Thing and Halloween being the most common mentions—I knew I had to jump on this opportunity.

Tickets were to be announced via Horror’s Hallowed Grounds Facebook page at an undisclosed time. So, it was a lot of checking and re-checking Facebook more than I’d like to admit. Unfortunately, even with my constant page refreshing, I missed the initial sale. I was bummed. Luckily, though, there was so much interest in the event that  East West Players and Horror’s Hallowed Grounds decided to host a second night. And thanks to the cunning skills of my friend tickets were acquired.

DoorwayNow, sometimes an event like this comes around and the novelty of it is cooler than the end result. Not the case here. Immediately after parking we exited the car to find ourselves standing awestruck as we looked up at the cross adorning the top of the infamous church— a wholly spiritual moment. From there we made our way to the side where Etchinson (Thom Bray) finds the crucified pigeon and ultimately ends up impaled by Alice Cooper. Now, for the most part, this area looks exactly the same.  However, there have been some alterations, such as access to the alley. In the film, Etchinson goes down the stairs from the side and has to turn right to head down the alley. Nowadays, it’s a straight shot down from the parking lot. Other than that, though, the rest is identical to what is seen in the original film.

After running around and nerding out for a bit they finally opened the doors for folks to line up. To enter the theater itself we had to head up the stairs to the second floor—the same set of stairs that Victor Wong and many of the other actors take throughout the film. The actual theater area and seating is built on where the grad students set up their base camp. Unlike the alleyway, though, this area is completely different, but was no less awesome to be in.

Andy Lowe, production manager for the East West Players, introduced the film along with a hilarious and informative video put together by Horror’s Hallowed Grounds where Sean Clark took us on a video tour of the church. The video was detailed and really interesting. I never would have known that we were sitting right where all the equipment was set-up in the original film had it not been for the video. .

I don’t think I need to discuss the film. Chances are if you’re reading this article, you’re already a fan of Prince of Darkness. What I do want to bring up is this: the film is still terrifying. The dream transmissions paired with the figure in the doorway—which yours truly had the luxury of pretending to be in one of the photos accompanying this article—still gets under my skin. Clearly, Prince of Darkness has stood the test of time as one of the best films in the genre, and if you haven’t seen it, but still chose to read, skim, or roll your eyes at this article, then shut your computer or smart phone off, and watch it.

Once the film ended and we piled out of the theater I made it a point to stand in the “Pray for death” spot, which was as awesome as I thought it would be. This area of the parking lot is pretty much still the same and made for a really surreal experience.

Overall, this was an excellent and remarkable event for fans. I’m forever grateful to the East West Player’s and Hallowed Grounds for putting this together. I wish more places took advantage of the locations available to them, not only because it’s great for the fans, but it also honors the art.

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