Prophecy (1979)

Prophecy (1979) movie poster

director John Frankenheimer
viewed: 09/14/2015

The mutant bear movie that couldn’t live up to its cool mutant bear poster. The crazy embryonic mutant bear of the poster is not the same mutant bears of the film.  Don’t get me wrong, there are mutant bears, giant mutant bears and baby mutant bears.  And they are kind of cool and kind of hilarious, whereas the mutant bear of the Prophecy movie poster is just plain cool.

According to Wikipedia, an original design was meant to look more like the poster image, but director John Frankenheimer wanted something different.

After watching the entertaining documentary Lost Soul (2014), about the disastrous production of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), which Frankenheimer took over from Richard Stanley and went down in the lore of wonderfully terrible films and doomed productions, it seems that Frankenheimer was no fan of the horror film genre.  He was apparently suffering from alcoholism quite deeply during the production of Prophecy so how much to attribute to that, I don’t know.  He also edited out the more extreme gore moments of the film and managed to bring it in at PG.

It’s not at all an uninteresting film, this tale of mercury poisoning from a lumber mill that causes birth defects and madness, drawing the ire of the native people (or as the film refers to them, “OP’s — Original Peoples”).  It’s not quite the revenge of the environment but rather a mutated monster bear and her cubs against Robert Foxworth, Talia Shire, and Armand Assante.

There are some hilarious moments.  Like when Shire and Foxworth are attacked by angry raccoons.  Or when the bear explodes the kid running zipped up in his sleeping bag (or even just that kid trying to run away in his sleeping bag.)  And really, the most amusing is when Foxworth is detailing the impact on an embryo of someone who has eaten the mutant fish of the lake, while in the background, his girlfriend Shire, who we know to be pregnant though he does not, grimaces throughout his sordid details.   It’s one of those things that could be moving but is actually quite funny.

It’s funny, but on the poster, it says it right there, “The Monster Movie”.  And you know what?  That’s what it is.  You’ve got to embrace your monster in a monster movie.  I doubt that Frankenheimer embraced his monster bear.

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