If you like your monster movies with an Eco-message then you’ve come to the right place. Let a giant mutated Bear teach you about the dangers of logging.
I realise how dismissive that sounds, but there’s an element to the otherwise worthwhile Prophecy that’s just too on the nose for my liking. This was the 70’s though, so a little of that can be forgiven. The late John Frankenheimer was a journeyman director that just happened to direct some classics (My personal favourite is Seconds, a nice underseen Sci-Fi flick starring Rock Hudson). I don’t think he ever really made a bad film (It’s unfair to blame him for The Island of Dr Moreau) but the work he turned in was always solid, and he had a great ability to hop genres. As far as I can tell this was the only horror film the man made, and it’s a loss to the genre that he didn’t make any more of them.
So the set up is this, the EPA are called out because of a dispute between a logging company who want to use the area for well…logging, and the local Native Americans, who claim ownership to the land. An EPA ruling will determine who gets the land, but they didn’t expect the mutated wildlife. Amusingly, our first real exposure is a rabid Badger, in a scene that comes off funnier than it was probably intended. We also get the very non Native American sounding Armand Assante as the local tribe leader and possibly the least convincing Native American ever.
The real star of the show is the giant mutated Bear that wrecks havoc on some unsuspecting Campers. In a now classic scene we witness the onscreen murder of a child in a sleeping bag, in a scene that’s probably funnier than it’s intended to be. If you ever wanted to see a child explode inside a sleeping bag (Sending feathers everywhere) then now’s your chance.
The film has an incredibly strong Eco message. Basically we shouldn’t fuck with the environment (Obviously – I’d be more impressed if the message was that we should just fuck with the environment all we want), or to be more precise logging companies shouldn’t his mercury for anything, especially dumping purposes, unless you want giant mutated salmon. It is of course a staple of almost every monster movie (From the Korean classic The Host to 60’s swinging classic The Horror of Party Beach), but it’s particularly overt here given the setting. But as I mentioned earlier, every is a little too on the nose. From the message to the characters, it’s as if they didn’t trust their audience to get what they were saying. And it’s a shame too, had those things been kept to the sidelines and focused more on some rampaging mutant Bears we might’ve had a classic on our hands. Thanks to the steady hand of Frankenheimer though it remains a solidly enjoyable ride, and I’m sure to date is still the only film about a giant mutated Bear.
I’ll be honest, I just like typing giant mutated Bear. It’s even better when you say it out loud.
Up Next: More crocs!