Sunday, October 4, 2015

Horrors of October - Prophecy

Prophecy (1979)

A couple is shipped up to Maine to do an environmental study of some woodland and settle a land dispute between a paper mill company and a tribe of Native Americans, here chiefly referred to as "OPies". They unfortunately discover that the forest and river have been tainted by mercury and has spawned a ravaging mutated bear dubbed "Katahdin". Though it has a few entertaining elements, PROPHECY is both an incredibly dated relic even at its time of release and a perfectly marketed cash-in of then current trends. The film has the makings of a JAWS rip-off (i.e. GRIZZLY specifically) mixed in with the then popular social concern of pollution and environmental destruction. Despite these qualities of "creativity", the story still plays like a generically boring B-movie from the 50's. How else explain why Talia Shire is utterly wasted in a wife role or the fact that the indigenous people are portrayed as proud nature lovers and led by bronzed Italian actor Armand Assante? The film completely falls apart when the good guys choose to save a mutated cub, whose continuing shrill cries of course causes the mama bear to come out of the thick and slash them to ribbons. The bear itself look gross and menacing but clearly must have been laborious practical effect; the makers keep it chiefly in darkness, only giving the viewer brief glances at it in order to hide its shortcomings and keep the terror factor going. Though director John Frankenheimer (why?!) admirably tries to make the film a scary experience with some quiet moments of tension, the only real enjoyment comes from its sheer amount of unintentional hilarity. From the chainsaw-meets-axe fight, to the serious scene where the hero doctor explains animal fetal mutation to a pregnant character, to the infamous child-in-a-sleeping-bag kill, to the bear moving at a constant fast clip on two feet, the film has bad laughs in spades. All of this plus the really violent gore (another PG-rated film from the 70's!) helps liven up some of the dullness that permeates this animals-gone-amok flick. And no, the film's title is never explained nor make any sense whatsoever.


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