John Frankenheimer’s survival horror film came in the midst of horror films that often preached something about conservation or the risks of pollution which would inevitably spawn some kind of monster in nature. Films like “Piranha” and “Orca” were all common place, and “Prophecy” is one of the many of its ilk. While it’s not exactly a great movie, “Prophecy” is a good enough man vs nature horror film about pollution and the fall out from corporate greed and irresponsibility.
When a dispute occurs between a logging operation and a nearby Native American tribe, Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) and his wife, Maggie (Talia Shire), are sent in to mediate. Chief John Hawks (Armand Assante) insists the loggers are poisoning the water supply, and, though company man Isley (Richard Dysart) denies it, the Vernes can’t ignore the strangely mutated wildlife roaming the woods. Robert captures a mutated bear cub for testing and soon finds himself the target of an angry mutant grizzly.
A lot of “Prophecy” is about the doom and fall out of the logging industry and the corporate destruction of nature. The mutated grizzly and its cub are the indications that nature is rightly fucked thanks to the pollution that’s caused by so much corruption. “Prophecy” packs in some pretty good horror moments as well as a food looking mutated grizzly bear that is just a pure force of nature, but viewers will be surprised to see that much of “Prophecy” is a drama. About a fifty percent of the film involves the characters of Robert and Maggie investigating the source of the mutations.
They interview potential culprits and ultimately come to the conclusion of what may be causing it. Meanwhile the mutant grizzly is mauling innocent people left and right. The script can never balance the horror and mystery too well, as one minute we’re watching a kid being smacked in to a rock by the bear, and the next Talia Shire’s character is worried about her own unborn child the deeper she gets in to the mystery. All in all, “Prophecy” excels thanks to its great cast and sharp direction, but it never quite hits the mark as it unevenly jumps back and forth between environmental mystery and schlock monster movie.
The new release from Scream Factory includes the nineteen minutes “All of Our Sins,” an interview with the legendary Talia Shire, who recalls her initial meeting with director John Frankenheimer, who was very interested in working with her. She discusses Frankenheimer’s technique and on-set attitude, as well as her relationship with her co-stars, and the admittance that she’s never seen “Prophecy.” There’s “Bearing Up” is a ten minute chat with Robert Foxworth, who remembers his audition for Frankenheimer, his thoughts on the ecological ruin theme of “Prophecy.” Foxworth also expresses fear that the message is lost thanks to the giant mutated bear. Which it pretty much is. “Bear and Grin It” is a thirteen minute sit down with screenwriter David Seltzer, who honestly discusses his work on “Prophecy.”
He’s so honest that there’s even a warning expressing that his opinions do not reflect the studio or anyone that works at Shout. Seltzer discusses everything from his enthusiasm on the project, his writing the tie-in novel, his clashes with Frankenheimer before he was kicked off the film, and his sheer disappointment at the mutant bear costume. “Hard to Bear” is a nineteen minute interesting chat with special effects wizard Tom Burman, who expresses his thoughts on the challenging shoot of “Prophecy” and his very little time to complete the film’s main monster, which was nicknamed “Pizza Bear.” He also discusses how members of Rick Baker’s effects team snuck into the screening to mock the bear effects, an incident that still enrages him.
“Prophecy Prodigy” is a twenty one minute discussion with the movie’s make-up artist Allan Apone, who began his career in Burman’s studio, learning the business as he went along. Apone lists the creatures he was in charge of operating, and shares his experience working with Frankenheimer, and with “Prophecy.” The twenty one minutes “The Man Behind the Mask” is a conversation with Tom McLoughlin, who tracks his rise from a struggling mime in France to Hollywood, where he became part of the “Prophecy” team while stuffed inside the mutated bear costume. There are five Radio Spots for “Prophecy,” as well as a Still Gallery including publicity shots, film stills, BTS pictures, poster art, lobby cards, newspaper ads, and Super 8 release packaging. Finally, there’s the original theatrical trailer.