Film Reviews

Prophecy (1979) – Blu-ray Review

Eureka Entertainment have been bringing some absolute gems of cinema to Blu-ray for a while now, but one area where I think they’ve been excelling is in showcasing some lesser known films, and those with cult status that are hard to track down. The kinds of movies that you’ve heard great things about, but never get the chance to actually watch. Prophecy is the latest addition to this list, a film that gets spoken about fondly by big names like Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino, but without this release I’d never have been able to see.

Prophecy begins at night, deep in the forests of Maine, where a mountain rescue team are searching for a group of missing loggers. Something comes out of the dark trees and swiftly kills the men, leaving the audience to wonder what it might be. After this bold start, the film shifts to Washington DC, where we meet our central leads. Dr Robert Vance (Robert Foxworth) is approached to look into the a dispute between a logging company and a Native American tribe by the Environmental Protection Agency, so sets out to Maine with his wife Maggie (Talia Shire).

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When they arrive in Maine they find a situation close to breaking point, as the local tribe and the logging company are close to physical violence. During the course of his investigation Vance discovers that the logging company may be behind some strange mutations in the local plant and animal life, and thinks he may be able to help the tribes-people. However, before he’s able to present his finding a series of killings begins to occur in the forest, and the culprit looks to be a horribly mutated creature that will stop at nothing to kill everyone.

Prophecy is an Environmental Horror movie, a genre that was popular in the ’70s due in large part to growing awareness of global warming and human harm to the environment, as well as popular hit films like Jaws and Piranha. The film puts science and nature at the heart of its story, with even the monstrous creature being a victim of the damage that humanity does to the planet, rather than some kind of demonic entity or some other sort of supernatural force. It’s what drives Foxworth’s Dr Verne, his fight for the truth and the desire to do the right thing, that keeps him going throughout the film.

Perhaps because it’s dealing with very real issues, with both the ever increasing awareness that humans are destroying our planet, and the intersection of how these capitalistic practices hurt marginalised communities, that makes Prophecy feel like more than just a monster movie. Much of the film is given over to the investigation into what’s happening up in the forest, and how it’s affecting the local Native community. The actors are telling a story about how the planet and people are being put at risk, and as such the film is played incredibly straight. You could almost be forgiven for forgetting you’re watching a monster movie for much of its run.

But, it is a monster movie, and when the monster turns up things end up taking a sharp turn into the wild. This huge, mutated bear that’s tearing its way across the screen is a sight to behold, even if the effects don’t quite hold up. This is no sophisticated looking creature like the Xenomorph from Alien, released the same year, but is more akin to the monster suits from Japanese Kaiju movies. It’s rubbery looking, and it moves badly, but it’s a genuine delight whenever it’s on screen.

The creature tears through the sets and the cast as if they’re made from paper, and it leads to some pretty shocking and dramatic moments as the tone goes from a thoughtful film about nature to people having to run for their lives. The monster design is pretty striking too, especially on the original poster art that looks like it’s been lifted from a pulpy 1970’s horror paperback, and anyone familiar with ManBearPig from South Park will find the design shockingly similar.

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As well as presenting the movie the new Blu-ray comes with the original trailer and television spot, but the most interesting parts of the new collection are the interviews and commentaries. The interviews, with the screenwriter and a member of the cast, shed a lot of light on the production and creation of the movie, whilst the commentaries delve into the film and horror cinema at the time in general. The behind the scenes stuff adds a lot more to the viewing experience, and gives you an excuse to watch the film a couple more times too.

Whether you’re someone who’s already seen Prophecy and has a lot of nostalgia for it, or if you’re coming to this completely fresh there’s a lot to like about this new release. With a host of recognisable faces, some silly and over the top moments, and an important subject that’s treated completely seriously, at times it’s a mixed bag for sure, but one that’s definitely worth it.

Prophecy is out on Blu-ray on 16th August from Eureka Entertainment.

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