Originally published 1-14-02

BUY IT! Please?STUDIO: Paramount
$24.98 RATED: PG
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
• Jack
• Shit
• Cave
• Troll

One of the joys of my childhood was watching a poignant scene from John Frankenheimer’s Prophecy.

In the scene, a camping child in a sleeping bag awakens to find a mutant bear attacking her family (a common occurrence, to be sure). With the bag zipped up all the way to the top, the kid hops around in the campsite like a nut only to be smacked into a large rock by the beast. Upon impact, feathers fly EVERYWHERE and the child is no longer what Anthrax would classify as “among the living”.

“I promise you fella, this is the best James Cameron replica you can find for under $1,000.”

It’s terrific slapstick, and whether or not the filmmakers planned it to be funnier than most comedies, they succeeded.

Over the years, I began to realize the film was less than perfect but when I heard a DVD was coming the screen capture possibilities alone made it a MUST BUY.

“What are you looking at, do I have a snot showing?”

The Flick

We are mucking up the environment, and it’s a real bad thing to do. Shame on us! As a result of the evil ways of corporate America, legendary director John (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin) Frankenheimer had a hook to hang his “monster movie” on with the environmental issues to keep it from being just another Jaws rip off.

Sadly, the FX work of 1979 wasn’t exactly in a condition to warrant John’s ambitions.

It’s always a treat to see Smiles Nelson getting acting gigs.

Featuring the pulse pounding star power of Talia Shire AND Armand Assante, the film threatens to sink under the weight of the two stars’ considerable fan bases.

I jest of course, because the allure of this film to a 70’s crowd was simply thrills and chills and maybe a little social commentary to boot but nothing all that compelling.

“I wanna eat your stuff!”..”No way Jack, I need to go look like Rachel Ticotin!”

The plot is simple: Due to potentially harmful dumping by the lumber industry, a doctor and his wife (the bearded Robert Foxworth and Rocky Balboa’s babe) arrive to see if all is well. Things apparently are not well, as a spate of killings has caused a ruckus and some animals are showing up abnormally large with no explanation.

The evil corporation denies all involvement, and in addition is locked in a battle with the local Indian population over the forest so it takes a family of messily deformed bears to wake everyone up to the harsh ecological reality facing the town.

An unused still from the promo kit for My Girl 3: Blood Feud.

As a statement on how man is killing nature, it’s pretty much a plodding bit of information nobody needed to be told. It’s not offensive, and some of the acting’s pretty good but ultimately the film needs to ride on the merits of the monster in this self billed “monster movie”.

A rare shot from Armand Assante’s audition for Robin Hood: Stiff and Expressionless Prince of Thieves.

Sadly, the monsters (designed by old Fangoria fave Rob Burman) leave a good bit to be desired. At no time do they seem anything more than a man in a suit or a rod puppeteered paw or an arcanely articulated bit of bladders and robotics. Essentially, just like Marlon Brando in the last two decades.

In fact, there are times it seems like a Japanese Godzilla film. How obvious it is that we’re seeing a man in a suit walking through a miniaturized set can only be explained by licensed professionals, but it’s pretty darned obvious. Particularly at the end when the beast is in the lake. You can almost expect to see Mothra fly in her own stiff wire assisted way from the background with her two hot Asian gals in tow.

EXCLUSIVE! The first ever shot from The Edge vs. Demonic Toys.

Thankfully, once you acclimate to the hokey FX and fairly run of the mill plot it’s pretty rewarding. The last twenty minutes of the film is loaded with cheap scares and violence (the film somehow got a PG rating) and it does have a Jaws feel at times as well as a Jurassic Park vibe. Especially when they manage to snag a few of the bear cubs (who also look like they shared Seth Brundle’s telepod before he worked the kinks out of the program) and mama comes looking for them.

When the airlines are too expensive, try the MUTANT BEAR SMACK EXPRESS™ for your travel needs.

People get smacked into rocks, a head gets squeezed off, there’s a hilarious far off shot of a beast tossing an old man around like a rag doll, and when they have the creature sharing the frame as a live actor you are in for an even more fun treat as you spot the obvious “regular sized actor in a suit holding a kid or midget and shaking them” type scenes.

It’s a pretty decent, but an albeit BAD movie that illustrates the sad seesaw of a career Frankeheimer’s had.

Still it’s a lot of fun at times and safe for the environment!

“Dwarfism ray… taking… effect!”

6.1 out of 10

ILM rarely commented on their less than seamless work on Krypto: The Motion Picture.

The Look

Who could forget the pivotal climax to BLOOD CARP?

The image is crisp enough, especially considering that it’s not a huge budgeted film and that exactly four people wanted this on DVD (myself included). It gets the Anamorphic transfer and there’s no visible artifacting.

Still, while this is the best the film will ever look, comparing it to something like Planet of the Apes would be like pitting David Hyde-Pierce in a cage match with Vinnie Jones.

7.0 out of 10

The Noise

This “Dolby Digital” audio presentation is 2.0 mediocrity in motion. Of course, the effort to make it anything but would have probably eclipsed the film’s budget so it’s not worth worrying over. This is not a great DVD to listen to.

5.0 out of 10

“I’m stunted as Hell and I want to eat your shoulders!”

The Goodies

I have more goodies in my pants.

0.0 out of 10

BUY IT! Please?The Artwork

Awesome. They’d just seen concept art for Alien most likely when they designed the artwork, because it has the same “egg” feel to it and wisely chose to showcase the embryonic mauler in lieu of Talia Shire so I have no gripes with their selection.

I’m a big fan of grisly and silly posters and this perfectly straddles both and in addition, the cardboard insert has the image WITHOUT THAT PESKY text surrounding it!

Leave it to Paramount to know that the discerning public for Prophecy wanted their fetal mutant bears presented unmarred.


9.0 out of 10