11 July 2004 | squeezebox
Absurd horror movie could have been terrific
PROPHECY is the kind of movie that makes you go, "Aw, man!" Not because it just plain sucks, but because the movie never once lives up to its potential. It repeatedly pulls its punches and draws back just as it's getting good.
The poster is probably the best thing about it, showing a creepy little mutant fetus floating in a womb. A movie about that thing? As an eight year old kid, I was the first on line! And, as an added bonus, it was PG, so I knew I could get in. Not to mention the fact that this was when Hollywood still had some balls, and a PG movie could still contain some hefty doses of gore and T&A.
I remember finding individual scenes to be pretty scary. A family is slaughtered while camping in one scene. A guy in an overturned jeep gets his head ripped off. And the giant mutant bear is, at times, genuinely freaky.
But even I, as a little kid, could tell that the movie was uneven and poorly paced. When the monster isn't attacking, it's yawn city, with Robert Foxworth pontificating endlessly to the point where, even though I agreed with every word he said, I wanted to bash his face in. And Talia Shire's eye-bugging and whining got pretty tiresome after a while as well.
You rarely, if ever, get a good look at the monster. That technique worked in ALIEN, but, whereas ALIEN kept the monster hidden through stylish photography and sly editing, PROPHECY is just poorly shot, badly lit, and sloppily put together.
Ridley Scott wanted to keep the alien partially hidden, so all you saw was teeth and claws and could put the thing together in your mind. I think John Frankenheimer just couldn't figure out how to hide the seams in the dime-store monster costume he had to work with, so just lit everything so dimly you could barely see anything. The monster is pretty grotesque and occasionally looks fearsome, but usually looks like nothing more than a big gray blob.
The baby monster bear that Shire cradles through the second half of the movie is much more freakish looking. PROPHECY is watchble enough if it shows up on cable one rainy day when there's nothing else to do. Just remember to watch it through an eight year old's eyes.