PROPHESY (1979)- It took me three attempts, three attempts, to finish this film. And the only reason I even started it was because the legendary John Frankenheimer’s name is listed as director. But this is a Frankenheimer removed from his 1960s heyday of ‘A list’ stars and ‘A list’ movies.
There is no BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE TRAIN, or SECONDS here. This is Frankenheimer in solid B movie mode, needing to work where he could get it. But even here, Frankenheimer wants didactic films, films that say something, if only obliquely, about real life issues. So we have one of the earliest environmental, EPA tinged horror films. And oddly enough that part works fine. Also Frankenheimer always an actor’s director, gets the most out of his solid cast.
What hampers the film is shown clear in the lackluster poster. The creature does not look great. Even allowing for this being a 40 year old movie, the creature… not good. Add to that the “unbelieving clueless” husband, and the “I have to keep this very important fact, secret from my husband” wife, and that dynamic feels a bit old and stupid. The movie gets a little frustrating around the hour mark, and around there is where I end up bailing on the movie.
However, I stuck with it on the third go around, and around the 1 hour 15 mark you see why John Frankenheimer is a celebrated director. Through pure direction he sells how terrifying this creature is; and the scene where they are driven and trapped underground, one of the most masterfully filmed, and tensest scenes, I have seen in any movie in a long time. Simply brilliant sequence. How he shoots it, how it is framed, how it i s performed. Simply a phenomenal scene. From there to the end of the film, I am officially onboard.
Now moments of, ‘uhh why are you just sitting there being stupid’ still popup, but overall that ending is simply great. Ludicrous, but great. So yeah, it took a few tries to actually finish this film, but having finished it, I have to say… I really enjoyed it, and see myself coming back to it for a repeat viewing. Grade: B-.
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