Movie Name: Prophecy
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date(s): June 15, 1979
MPAA Rating: PG
Something is growing in the forests of Maine and killing. When EPA agent Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) is called in to investigate a battle between a logging operation and the Native Americans in the area, he and his wife Maggie (Talia Shire) journey to the land near the Androscoggin River. With reports of strange behavior from the Native Americans and unusually sized animals, Ben uncovers a pollutant that is mutating the wildlife and people who live in the area. While trying to prove the chemical problem to the logging factory owner Bethel Isely (Richard A. Dysart), he encounters the legend of Katahdin…a mutant bear out to kill, but Maggie has a problem growing inside of her as well.
Directed by John Frankenheimer, Prophecy is a monster horror movie that plays better for laughs than for seriousness. Frankenheimer later admitted that Prophecy was released during the peak of his alcohol problems and was not one of his better films.
Prophecy actually has some jumps and is entertaining in a “when-animals-attack” sense. It is not a good movie, and the plot meanders through the film with most of the last part of the movie being a chase involving Katahdin. With a mutated baby bear that Verne for some reason needs alive instead of just taking the dead one, the group is pursued by its mother. Any sense of a plot falls apart and it just becomes a monster movie.
The “monsters” are so ridiculous that it is hard to take anything seriously. In the movie we see a giant fish that eats a duck, a big tadpole, the mutated bear cubs, and the mutated bear Katahdin which takes the cake as one of the worse evil characters ever. It is awkward and lumbering, and looks like a raw piece of meat with a bear head stuck on it. The characters have no means to defend against a bear, get away from it, or call for help. The best scene in the whole movie is when Katahdin attacks campers and the sleeping bag of one of the victims literally explodes with zero realism (but plenty of laughs).
The movie does have some nice scenery and is noted for marking the beginning of Canadian filmmaking by U.S. filmmakers. It was a new idea to shoot in British Columbia at the time the film was made, but now U.S. filmmaker and television production companies utilize Canada all the time in substitution for the U.S.
I saw Prophecy when I was young so I have a soft spot for it, but it is a bad movie. Check it out if you see it on and want some laughs. There are tons of real issues in the movie that are sidelined by goofy effects, and everyone involved in the movie should have known better. It is one of those classic pre-PG-13 examples of how much more tolerable the ratings system was.