The Friday Midnight Movie | ‘Prophecy’ (1979)
Mutant animals are roaming around the woods of Maine killing campers, walkers, and even camper and walker rescue teams. Brilliant, I love it already. Maine is a great setting for horror and animal revenge films are one of my favourites. Saying that Maine’s eternal stand-in British Columbia (Canada) is once again deployed here for penny saving. None the less the vastness of the woodlands and lakes are prime horror territory. Now first off the title is a little misleading, there is no prophecy to really speak of and the term prophecy, for me at least, always has religious undertones, there’s no such theology here. There is however angry genetic mutations caused by pollution and plucky experts (husband and wife team Robert and Maggie) sent in to discover the cause. Fairly standard stuff you say, well almost…,
Rather optimistically Prophecy attempts to shoehorn at least three ‘messages’ into this standard b-movie plot: 1) A not so subtle environmental message about the danger of over deforestation and water pollution. 2) Racial bigotry and the plight facing Native Americans and their land rights. 3) A pro-life message (aka anti-abortion). Too many cooks? Maybe, but seeing these messages ‘unfold’ into the plot is at times more entertaining than the mutant animals. The mutants themselves are kept fairly low-key, there’s a rabid Racoon (a normal Racoon sped-up), a hilariously bad massive tadpole puppet, and the main culprit a twelve foot inside-out-bear-pig and its baby. Why is it in order to convey mutation animals have to be turned inside-out? I for one couldn’t think of anything else but the bear from The Muppets whenever bear-pig attacked.
On the human side we have asshole husband of the year winner Dr Robert (played by Robert Foxworth – voice of Ratchet in the new Transformer films), disgruntled and secretly pregnant wife Maggie (Rocky’s Talia Shire – Rocky wouldn’t treat her like this), and then a bunch of Native Americans, town folks, lumber company goons, and local law enforcement types. Naturally in an environmentally cautious tale such as this it’s the industry men who are the ultimate bad guys. It’s the mercury dumped in the water ways by the lumber mill that’s been causing the mutations. Not content with causing inside-out-bear-pigs the loggers are at loggerheads (!) with the Native Americans who are protesting about the deforestation. Poor old Robert and Maggie find themselves in the middle of this petulant orgy and Maggie is worried that the evil mercury is going to mutate her unborn child. Heavy. Needless to say there’s some more metaphors about motherhood and pro-life. Anyway in the end none of these messages are really tackled in any way and the bear-pig finally gets revealed and goes ape-shit for 10 minutes before Dr Rob stabs it to death with an arrow. Hilariously everyone seems to be under the illusion that 10 years of mutating pollution only caused one abomination; safe to say there is a throw-away sequel ending that suggests otherwise.
Prophecy is fun in a stupid 70’s way. The humans try their best without once giving in to the fact that the creature effects are pretty crap. If the inside-out flesh doesn’t make you feel queasy then director Frankenheimer’s overuse of extreme zooms and quick zooms should do the trick.