Making my way through the few Carpenters I haven't seen (only Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Village of the Damned, Ghosts of Mars and now The Ward left), and finally got around to this. Very atmospheric, forboding, desolate film that I really enjoyed.
The acting is a bit hammy at times, and there are far too many red shirts (like when Victor Wong, Lisa Blount and Jameson Parker lock themselves in a room and there's some random mullet-wielding guy in there with them just so he can get infected later). So strange seeing Dennis Dun here, I grew up on Big Trouble in Little China and had never seen him in anything else. He's actually not doing a very good acting job, his freak out in the closet is kind of embarrassing, but he's likable enough. Donald Pleasance is intense as usual, although he's really being Dr. Loomis circa Halloween 4 here, so Victor Wong is the stand-out. I love his endless exposition on religion vs. science, quantum physics, tachyons and the like.
As for how Alice Cooper and his bum squad got infected, I think the green Satan juice had gotten into the ground and into the bugs.
Love the score, like a mix of Carpenter and Phantasm. In fact, the entire movie has a real Don Coscarelli feel to it, a fatalism and sense of isolation: once the main cast is inside the church, there's no sense that the authorities or anyone will be intervening, or that there's even still a world out there. Even when the cops and EMS show up at the end, we're left with Parker's Ben having a final nightmare (those "messages from the future" truly are horrifying and some of the best "found footage" sequences I've ever seen) that ends with him focusing on a mirror, which is very reminiscent of Phantasm.
I can't say I understand the entire thing, and it's not my favorite Carpenter (although I rank it above They Live, which I caught recently; I liked it but it felt a little too simple), but it's a noble effort and worth respect. Creepy as hell.