TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: PROPHECY (1979)

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PROPHECY (1979)

This 1979 horror thriller starts out letting us know there is something…emphasis on ‘thing’…wrong in the deep forests of Maine as a search team and their dogs are slaughtered in the dead of night by something large and vicious. We don’t see it, but we hear it’s fearsome roar and see the results of it’s carnage. We then meet doctor and activist Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) who is hired by the EPA to write a report on a logging company which is in a land dispute with a local Native American tribe. He arrives with his wife Maggie (Talia Shire) and right away hears stories of disappearances that the logging chief (Richard Dysart) is all too eager to blame on the tribe and their leader Hawks (Armand Assante). The Native Americans, however, believe the loggers have aroused a legendary creature called Katahdin by disturbing it’s homeland and it is responsible for the missing men. But Dr. Verne discovers a far more horrifying explanation as mercury poisoning caused by the logging company has affected a local lake and thus the wildlife and tribe members. And one of the side effects is a massive mutant grizzly bear with a taste for human flesh who targets Verne, his wife and others in a fight for life deep in the wilderness and with no one to come to their aid.

Prophecy is surprisingly cheesy for a big budget film ($12 million, which was a large budget at the time) with name actors in it’s cast. Director John Frankenheimer moves things along at a methodical pace and spends a good time focusing on the messages of progress’ harm to the environment and the ill treatment of Native Americans. Themes that still have resonance. And while these are valid messages, this is advertised as a monster movie and we want to see some carnage. It’s close to an hour before we meet up with our monster as it savages a camping family. And well over an hour before our leads finally discover what they are up against and it discovers them. But it’s also hard to take the important messages in David Seltzer’s script seriously when the film’s last act is keyed on a blatant act of stupidity to set it in motion. Our bear is a momma bear and Verne and Co. discover two of it’s cubs…one dead, one still alive…and decide to take them with them as evidence. It never occurs to them that maybe giving her babies back would cease it’s pursuit and slaughter of their group, but it doesn’t, even after mom reclaims the dead one and temporarily leaves. Hard to believe no one thought returning the young would be a better option then being pursued by an angry mutant mom. The FX portraying the critter are in the form of the late Kevin Peter Hall (the Predator) in a mutant bear costume, shot at angles to make it look twice the size with some larger prosthetic props for close-ups, and it looks cheesy and though it is shown mostly in quick glimpses and in low light, the cheesiness comes through. Their is some gore, mostly in the last act, despite being rated PG, and it’s looks fine and is effective enough.

The cast are all reputable actors and really give it their all to present the material in a serious manner to go along with Frankenheimer’s dead serious tone, but once our creature shows up it goes from well intended eco-thriller to shlocky monster movie in a hurry. And that’s a good thing, as to be honest, the movie is kinda dull till our rubber beastie starts offing the red shirts and bad guys of the cast, even if the cheesiness sullies all the intended seriousness the film set up in it’s first two thirds. This film might have worked on a more serious horror level like Alien, which was released less then a month earlier, had it’s monster been presented more effectively or had been better designed. Still there is some entertainment value from this disappointing thriller when it’s hunt and chase final act gets moving, but one expects a lot more thrills from a director renown for making thrillers.

Worth a look for the 70s nostalgia and if you want to see how a SYFY level nature gone amok film was made back at that time, but if you go in looking for something on the level of Alien you’ll be sorely disappointed. I remember when seeing this in a theater back in 1979 the audience bursting out in laughter at the intended ‘shocking’ last scene…and it kinda sums up the whole movie when I think about it.

PERSONAL NOTE: This film does have some personal sentimental value for me as I saw it with my neighbor and his hot, young MILF mom and she was my first crush…she wore Daisy Dukes before Daisy Duke made them famous and is personally responsible for my denim shorts fetish. LOL!

2 and 1/2 gooey mutant momma bears!

prophecy rating

and my favorite scene…

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE PROPHECY AND THE PROPHECY II

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prophecy   Prophecy2 

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prophecy

THE PROPHECY (1995)

Gregory Widen writes and directs this clever and often very creepy horror flick concerning a second war in Heaven spilling out onto the Earth. Jealous over the attention God has given humankind, the Archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) has waged a war that has lasted centuries. But if he can acquire the soul of a heinously evil human general who has recently died, it could turn the tide. Loyal angel Samuel (Eric Stoltz) has hidden the soul in a little girl, Mary (Moriah Snyder) and now it’s up to ex-priest turned cop, Thomas (Elias Koteas) and school teacher, Katherine (Virginia Madsen) to stop Gabriel from getting the soul from Mary. Complicating matters is a third party, Lucifer (Viggo Mortensen), who has an invested interest in how this situation plays out.

Widen gives this film a nice atmosphere and creatively weaves Bible scripture into this very original and effective horror, as well as, gives some very good dialog for star Walken and Mortensen’s Lucifer to chew on. He also has a nice visual style and makes good use of a small budget. He gets good performances from all the cast with Koteas really convincing as a man who has lost his faith now faced with defending the God he turned away from and Madsen making a strong willed heroine forced to stand against the unthinkable. Obviously, thought, it is Walken who takes his role and runs with it with his sinister and quirky performance as the vengeful Gabriel. But not to be overlooked, is Viggo Mortensen giving one of the creepiest representations of Satan on film. His fallen angel is dripping with evil and malice and delivers Widen’s dialog with an unsettling restraint that is a perfect contrast to Walken’s more over the top Gabriel. A witty, original, unnerving and very entertaining horror.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Walkens

prophecy rating

plus

Prophecy2

THE PROPHECY 2 (1998)

Direct to DVD sequel actually isn’t bad. Can’t compare to the original, but it is entertaining. Story has Gabriel (Christopher Walken) released from Hell and continuing his war to take control of Heaven. A loyal angel, Danyael (Russell Wong) impregnates a human woman, Valerie (Jennifer Beals) to create a nephilim, a human/angel hybrid who is prophesied to unite the angels and end the second war. Gabriel now must hunt down Valerie and destroy her unborn child before it can ruin his plans to take over Heaven.

Greg Spence writes and directs this time and doesn’t quite have the cleverness or style that Gregory Widen had, but he directs competently and gives the sequel a brisk pace and Walken is once again worth watching for his quirky and sinister Gabriel. The rest of the cast is fine with Beals giving a strong and sympathetic performance as a woman fighting supernatural odds to save her child and Russel Wong bringing a strong nobility to Danyael. Also starring Brittany Murphy as a suicidal girl Gabriel uses as his human familiar and Eric Roberts as the angel, Michael. Not bad as direct to DVD sequels go. Fans of the original will probably be entertained.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Walkens

prophecy 2 rating

There is a Prophecy 3 (2000) that you may want to add to complete the trilogy, but it is far inferior to the first two and Walken’s Gabriel is more of a spectator this time around. It does sort of complete the story, but doesn’t have the same quality or entertainment value as it predecessors. Only if you have the time and are a completest or a fan of this series.

The trailer is no longer available so, this scene will have to do…

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