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like to work. They don’t worry too much about other things.

As always, you made interesting use of Donald Pleasence as “Priest.” Hey, I once cast him as the American President [in Escape fromNew York]! I’ve always been a fan of Donald. He was one of the most famous character actors in the world. When I studied Roman Polanski at film school, I saw Cul-de- Sac and Donald was especially amazing in that. I cast him as a psychiatrist with a gun in Halloween and when he showed up for a meeting about the script he said, “I don’t know why I’m doing this movie. The only reason I am is because my daughter likes your music.” I was terrified of him! On Escape, I began to un- derstand his cynical, humorous side and we became friends. You see, Donald was an RAF pilot in the war and he really saw some action. By the time Prince of Darkness rolled around, we were old pals and he was just fabulous as Priest. He was a fascinating actor and a dear friend. I miss him.

Did anything in particular influence the film’s visual style? Budget. Actually, that really was it. We needed to do it as cheaply as possible and still make it look okay.

You’ve cited Curse of the Werewolf as an influence on the killing of Frank [Robert Grasmere] by the Bag Lady. That scene is also reminiscent of Dario Argento’s Inferno, when the antique dealer is murdered while drowning some cats. I love Inferno! Back then, I’d just watched Curse of the Werewolf and remembered that one scene and was struck by it. I liked how Ter- rence Fisher shot it. So I thought I’d do an ap- proximation of it – an approximation being an homage, which is a polite word for stealing. I don’t know that I was thinking of Inferno for that scene but I might have been. I often think of Dario when I’m doing a spooky movie.

One of the most creative concepts is that tachyons are being used to send messages back through time to warn characters dur- ing dreams of their bleak future. Where did that come from? A book called Timescape by Gregory Benford. [Laughs] I just cribbed it, that’s yet another word for stealing. Gregory and I became friends so he forgives me. They haven’t proven the existence of tachyons yet, it’s just a theoretical idea, but it would be great. We could win every battle simply by


FACE OF PRINCE OF DARKNESS. When Universal released the film on DVD, the cover image was Cooper’s


gaunt, menacing mug, just daring you to come closer. The legendary rocker found himself in the 1987 film

after meeting director John Carpenter through his man- ager, Shep Gordon, who would go on to executive pro- duce They Live (1988) and Village of the Damned (1995) for the filmmaker, as well as Shocker (1989) and The People Under the Stairs (1991) for Wes Craven. Car- penter invited Cooper on set to watch the filming, but soon had him putting on a grimy toque and trench coat. “I’m standing there and I’m watch-

ing, and watching, and there are all these street people that looked like zombies, and he said, ‘Hey, why don’t you be one of them? It would be cool to pan across and people would see you,’” recalls Cooper of how he got roped into the movie. “I just kinda looked at people in downtown LA and said, ‘I can do that.’” But what began as a simple face in the crowd be-

came so much more, as Cooper took on the role of “Street Schizo,” leader of the small army of possessed homeless people who surround the church that our he- roes are holed up in together with an ancient vial of green liquid purported to be evil itself. In his most famous scene, Cooper’s character mur-

ders one of the scientists researching the vial, stabbing the man in the chest with part of an old bicycle. The gag was inspired by the musician’s own Grand Guig- nol-style concerts. “[Carpenter] saw our show, and in it I put a mic stand

Evil Effigy: A pigeon is crucified by possessed homeless people.

through a guy’s chest and it comes out the other side – it’s a great trick, it looks real,” notes Cooper. “He says, ‘You know that mic stand thing you do? Could you do that with a bicycle?’ Next thing you

know, it’s three days of shooting. I started off just in the crowd, and then I’m putting a bicycle through a guy’s chest.” Though Cooper has plenty of praise for Carpenter,

particularly for his depiction of a modern boogeyman in Halloween, he was left wanting by Prince of Dark- ness. As some film critics have also pointed out, a face- less container of liquid standing in for the Devil was difficult to get behind, and the only other glimpse view- ers get of the Man Downstairs is the giant demonic arm that reaches through the mirror at the end of the movie. “When you see that hand and you

realize that it’s the Devil trying to get through, well, I kinda wanted to see him,” says Cooper. “I really wanted the thing at the end that comes through the mirror to scare the hell out of me, the way Barlow scared me in Salem’s Lot. He’s literally the face of evil. When I first saw Barlow, he took my breath. I wanted this thing to do that, and it never quite got there.” Being a born-again Christian,

Cooper is well steeped in the mythol- ogy of good and evil. He has his own idea of what Satan should look like,

and explains that the face of evil wouldn’t be frighten- ing at all. “In Prince of Darkness, there’s this Hollywood ver-

sion of Satan that we’ve all bought into, that he’s this scary character, whereas in reality he’d probably be more of a politician-type character. He’d be appealing, someone who would make you feel really good about yourself. He’d be your best buddy and he’d be very charming, rather than scary, because scary’s not really what he wants to do. He wants to deceive, and to de- ceive you’ve got to be appealing.” Cooper adds that he also believes strongly in de-

monic possession, thanks to his grandfather. “He worked with the Sioux Indians in the ’30s, and

they didn’t call it ‘exorcism,’ they called it ‘casting out demons.’ My grandfather did that up on the reservation all the time. It wasn’t like a Catholic ritual; it was more like walking in and simply casting out the demon. He told me stories that used to scare me to death, and they were true.”

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