“Prince of Darkness” was filmed in 30 days. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Worthy horror films are known for their paralyzing suspense, terrifying killers and eerie music; however, this genre of film can also exhibit a deep and intellectual message. This is what the UMass Lowell’s philosophy department hopes to demonstrate during their Philosophy and Film series this semester.
On the last Monday of each month, the philosophy department at UMass Lowell runs this free film series at the Luna Theater, which is located in Mill No. 5 in downtown Lowell. It welcomes students and the community of Lowell to come watch a movie and participate in a professor led discussion directly following the film. The series is known for featuring blockbuster hits such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Captain America: The Winter Solider,” while also acknowledging classics like “The Matrix” and “Fight Club.”
On Oct. 29 at 7:05 p.m., UMass Lowell philosophy professor Christopher Phillips will be leading the philosophical discussion for the movie “Prince of Darkness.”
“It is a story that involves scientists being recruited by a kind of secret organization in the church to explore and safeguard and figure out how to dispose or what to do with some ancient secret,” Phillips said.
He chose this horror film by director John Carpenter because it might not be as well-known as other films in the genre, yet it is still engaging to his audience. Plus, Halloween is just a few days away.
Phillips is no stranger to leading discussions on philosophy, whether in the classroom, during his office hours or through his past experience last October during the showing of the film
“The Prestige.” He said he trusts his audience and hopes to draw out what people find interesting about specific scenes, while tying in philosophical teachings about topics such as Plato’s cave and reality.
“Movies always turn on, in the end, philosophically interesting topics, or they are just bad movies,” he said.
Philips said that he and his fellow colleagues in the philosophy department are shocked that around 15 to 20 percent of students in their classes have never seen movies like “The Matrix,” which display clear philosophical topics. In part, this series works on bringing some of these philosophical movies to students who might not have looked at them in that way.
“I really enjoy attending the UML Philosophy and Film Series, not only because of the movie selections but also due to the professors and their insight provided on the content of the screening,” said Daphne Naut, a UMass Lowell student who double majors in political science and philosophy. “I’ve brought along some of my friends, and we’ve made many a great night watching the films and posing questions at the Luna Theater.”
Choosing the Luna Theater as the location instead of directly on campus is intentional as it invites not only students of any major, but also the community at large. Christopher Ryan, a recent graduate of criminal justice from UMass Lowell, cannot wait to attend the series as part of the welcomed Lowell community. “It makes me happy that this event is open to anyone,” said Ryan. “I always enjoyed going to these movies and discussions to give my own input and who doesn’t like free movies?”
The philosophy department and Professor Phillips both believe that this event could really benefit anyone, and they look forward to hearing the opinions of students and the community.
“You will be amazed at what your fellow students and community have to say,” Phillips said, “Yeah, you have to buy the booze, but the movie is free, as is the discussion.”