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Prophecy (Blu-ray Review)

Prophecy celebrates its 40th anniversary with a brand new Scream Factory release, marking its debut on the Blu-ray format. The environmental horror film notably has Talia Shire in its cast. Oh and you may have heard something or other about a mutated bear. I’ll say this; what you’ve heard is likely true and possibly more bizarre than you’d imagined. Scream Factory know a piece of cheese when they see one and were ready in the wings to take on this movie and they did not disappoint. Its crazy, but this thing wound up nabbing a pretty impressive amount of interviews, and the results they got are pretty blunt, honest and of the best type when it comes to these Scream Factory releases. This one is available now, and you can order it from the link below (To which I do earn a small percentage) or you can go to Shout! Factory’s website where they can also hook you up with a copy. So, without further adieu, lets get our mutated bear on.

Film

In Prophecy, Robert Foxworth (Damien: Omen II) and Talia Shire (Rocky, The Godfather) star as a doctor and his wife who travel to Maine to research the impact of the lumber industry on the local environment. They begin to investigate a succession of mysterious and terrifying events: ecological freaks of nature and a series of bizarre and grisly human deaths. Something unimaginably horrible waits in the woods … something unwittingly created by man, that will become an uncontrollable, merciless machine of destruction.

Prophecy is trying to be an environmental horror film with a message. In the wake of Jaws, this became a popular subgenre to finish out the 1970s until Halloween would flip the knock offs into a new direction. Unfortunately, this thing wants to preach some tired stuff, that feels a little dated. There isn’t anything too interesting going on as we wait for something to just come to a head in the movie, whether it be the character drama building behind the curtains or just a damn mutated bear to attack.

Speaking of that bear, holy moly. THIS is why we are here talking about this movie today. What an absolute misfire this thing is. Oh well, I’d rather have the cheesy and wild looking menace than something competent, because it would not have improved the movie if it hadn’t stirred me in my seat once I saw the damn thing. Had that been a good bear suit/effect, it may have continued the yawn fest I was being to subjected to for this review. So, I for one am thankful for the “Pizza Bear”.

Prophecy’s final 30 minutes is indeed worthy of a bad movie night with some friends, pizza and brew. However, I’m not sure the first hour and ten minutes is worth sitting through to get to. Its pretty dry and deadly serious, making it not fun and a bit of a snore to get through. I do take joy in getting to see a movie with Talia Shire I’d never seen before, but sadly it was this one. Make sure you don’t watch this alone, invite a friend to this disaster.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: There is no info regarding the transfer on Prophecy, but its likely a 2K one. And opposite the movie, this looks quite terrific. So you get to look at quality while the movie disappoints. There are some nice touches and attention to detail with the tree leaves, bark texture and the big mutated bear and little mutated bears’ skin and veins and stuff. Its pretty neat. Its a pretty sharp as it can be image with a very unmessed with look overall.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty solid and impresses in some the aerial shots in the film. Motion is smooth and cinematic with no issues regarding motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and a hair lighter than a more natural look. This does well with nighttime and shadow sequences, though heavier in grain when blacks are consuming. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: This one finds itself a more natural and rustic looking feature. Its a lot of woods and the greens do translate quite boldly and are well saturated. The red and pink mutated bears do prove to be a stand out with a much more bursting appearance to them when against the dimmer wooded areas.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures come through quite clearly in close up shots and most medium ones.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Prophecy arrives with a mono track that pretty much hits the spot where you’d want and expect from it. No, it doesn’t go above and beyond, but there are some loud and deep moments that impress. Plus all the mutated bear sounds come out of here quite effect and gross sounding like you would hope for.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Prophecy comes with reversible artwork featuring an alternate poster design.

All Of Our Sins (HD, 18:59) – An interview with Talia Shire. She starts with how she met with John Frankenheimer (“Absolutely unique director”) in a meeting with Jeff Goldblum. Admittedly never having seen the final film, Shire talks about working with its director, the films message/themes and working with some of the mutated bears (Which she didn’t think turned out very well). She also learned just enough cello to try and be convincing in the movie.

Bearing Up (HD, 10:02) – An interview with Robert Foxworth. Also not a fan of the mutated bear (Which thanks to ironic viewing, is probably a good reason why we are here for interviews 40 years later), but has big thoughts on the movies themes. He goes over working with Frankenheimer as well as the Canadian shoot.

Bear and Grin It (HD, 13:14) – An VERY open and blunt interview with writer David Seltzer coming hot off the heels of his Omen interview from the Scream Factory set. 3/3 in the “not a fan of the bear suit” department, Seltzer is also not a fan of director Frankenheimer. He was kicked off the set and got into with the director who he blames some rampant alcoholism on the product not being what it could have.

Hard to Bear (HD, 19:34) – An interview with special make-up effects artist Alan Apone. Well, he’s the man that was charged with creating the “Pizza Bear”. Apone goes over the rush and challenge it was to try and pull this off. Its not the production that sets him off though, its a story about Rick Baker and other make up designers showing up to the premiere and heckling it while he was in attendance.  Ouch.

The Man Behind the Mast (HD, 21:51) – An interview with mime artist Tom McLoughlin. The Jason Lives director was a mime at the time getting his SAG card from getting work on Woody Allen’s Sleeper.  He was the guy in the bear suit (“Somewhere in there was a bear”), and even studied movements in preparation for the role. McLoughlin seems to be the one with the best spirits about a film that everyone has found disappointing.

Radio Spots (HD, 2:28)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:06)

Still Gallery (HD, 7:11)

Summary

Prophecy takes a while to get going, but it achieves its golden turd status once it arrives. Scream Factory has put together a loving release with a terrific presentation and an outstanding array of extras. This truly falls under that category of giving a film a look and extras better than it deserves. However, we are all better for that.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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