Thursday, December 6, 2018

Prince of Darkness: a pitiful pigeon crucifixion

Title: Prince of Darkness
Year: 1987
Director: John Carpenter
Running time: 110 min.
Country: United States

In this horrific film a group of scientists are surrounded and killed by a gang of people possessed by Satan. John Carpenter exhibits muscle in a film that combines horror, violence and despair. In this context there is a pigeon appearance in a sequence that, at least for me, is the most revolting pigeon-scene I have ever witnessed in a film.

Here we can find the careless scientist falling into the trap
The scene occurs when one of the scientist leaves the building where he is working only to fall into a trap prepared by the satanically possessed homeless. The trap is quite simple: in a lonely and dark alley next to the building a strange object is laid on the floor that attracts the attention of the scientist (we all know about the inherent curiosity exhibited by the members of this community- the scientists).

When he approaches strange object he discovers that it is a pigeon crucified using two sticks, and  shortly after he is cornered by the bad guys (or rather, the possessed ones, because they may have originally been good persons). One of them, played by singer Alice Cooper, kills him using a stick in a quite violent way. A very sad ending to such a promising career....

After carefully watching the scene I am still unsure if the pigeon recorded in the scene was a real one - I sincerely hope not. I searched in the final credits and I couldn't find any statement showing that they have followed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) or the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). I hope that this little animal was not harmed in the film recording. No one deserves that, even for a damn good horror film. 

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source:  Prince of Darkness. Starring moment: 0:35:35
  • Pigeon activity: None, The pigeon appears dead by crucifixion.  
  • Symbolism: High. The whole film has a strong Christian undercurrent: a context of a group of scientists lead by a priest, evil itself contained in a church cellar, infernal possessions... in this context the miserable and cruel demise of an innocent pigeon that could be argued to represent the Holy Spirit can be seen as coherent (of course, from evil's perspective). 
  • Relevance: Medium. This scene represented the first death of one of the film's characters. The role of the pigeon was important to achieve this action. 
  • Training level:  Not applicable (the pigeon was dead). 


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