Prince of Darkness (1987) and Excalibur (1981) – Festival Experience

Stone Free Festival is a UK Rock festival. Now music festivals have often included various stalls and rides as a supplement to the main event; for some films are screened. The advantage of Stone Free is that it’s located at a venue that manages to capture the spirit of out door festivals (at least to some degree) whilst also including a lot of the security and benefits of an indoor festival. Located at the The O2, there were actually many restaurants alongside the main event. So the advantage of a cinema almost lends itself to music related film screenings and why not? The Rock world and the Film world can so easily find itself swimming in similar ponds. So at Stone Free we’re offered Prince of Darkness (d. John Carpenter USA 1987) and Excalibur (d. John Boorman UK/USA 1981). Seeing these cult hits on the silver screen at a festival setting with their connections to the music being played could be an advantage but something about the atmosphere of a film and a festival in one could be very conflicting and the audience of one may not exactly suit the other.

Prince of Darkness is a cult Horror film by acclaimed Horror director John Carpenter and features Alice Cooper, who was the headliner for Saturday. This connection is endearing and seeing the young Alice Cooper on the screen was welcoming. The 80’s aesthetic was well suited and goes along with the timeline of Rock music. Fans of the music tend to like this era and will also like the dark side of Horror cinema. The film didn’t get a huge turn out considering the many who went to the festival. The film is a cult hit and it plays very well and hold up in script and storytelling to this day. The special effects not the greatest but easily surpassed for the characters and story. However, for connections to the festival through the Alice Cooper connection, there are stronger connections that could have been picked. Wayne’s World (d. Penelope Spheeris USA 1992)may have been a bit more relevant of a hit – being about the kind of musicians and music that was at the festival and actually featuring Alice Cooper performing. However, Prince of Darkness had it’s cult connection and serves as a lesser known nugget.


A mysterious entity has arisen in a church that is driving people wild and it is up to a research team to discover what it is and what it will do.

Excalibur may have a stronger cult following and given the atmosphere of sunday and the small connection of themes (Sunday headliner Rick Wakeman re-recorded his concept album The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table  (a. Wakeman A&M Records 1975)in 2016)  was probably a good choice. The film holds up as having that cult feel. It is raw and original and has a large impact that is passionate but not all polished. The performances by the cast and atmosphere of the film seem very fitting with the festival and supplemented Rick Wakeman’s later performance very well. Excalibur on the silver screen was allowed to be grand in performance, epic power and atmosphere. It’s impact may be more stinted on the home screen.

A film about the rise of King Arthur and his forming of the round table and the subsequent challenges he faces in keeping it together.


Of the two films Excalibur felt more at home. Prince of Darkness was well suited but felt a lot more niche than the grand entrance of Excalibur. The atmosphere of both films worked on the big screen and there was a very effective sense of doom and suspension of disbelief within Prince of Darkness but in the gritty and offbeat magic of Excalibur and the epic desperate fight scenes, Excalibur just got the edge. These are both good films and has that cult magic to both, Prince of Darkness may actually be a bit more polished than Excalibur and so is more likely to stand the test of time. In a festival that is all about the fun of the music and for music that can be such an epic war, Excalibur just got there more.


Further Reading

Stone Free Review

Noizze Review 1 and 2

Prince of Darkness:

Prince of Darkness:


Alice Cooper’s Prince of Darkness

Anaal Nathrakh


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