Ha ha!

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Wednesday 25 August 2021

Burl reviews The Prophecy! (1995)


Ha ha, now please listen friends as I read to you a passage from the Book of Burl, Chapter 19, Verse 95! Yes, I’m reviewing a religious thriller for you today, hot on the heels of The Omen, and here we have a film that has caused no small amount of title confusion in its day, which I may have witnessed first-hand in my days as a video store clerk! But there are no mutant bears in this picture, for it is not Prophecy but the Dimension Pictures extravaganza The Prophecy! I remember seeing it in the movie theatre, where, as is my habit, I developed a fondness for it out of all proportion to the movie’s worth, ha ha! But I’ve never seen any of the many sequels, so I can’t have liked it that much! I watched it again just recently, and even absent the extra layer of delight provided by the big-screen experience, the picture rolled out a jelly-like layer of enjoyment!

Our protagonist is Thomas Daggett, a would-be priest who suffers a sudden de-faithifying just as he’s taking his vows, and the next thing you know it’s years later and he’s become an iron-nosed cop! Daggett is played by Elias Koteas from Crash and Collateral Damage, and soon his old pal Some Kind of Wonderful, which is to say Eric Stoltz from The Wild Life and The Fly II, turns up playing the sort of angel who, like Harry Dean Stanton in One Magic Christmas, might easily be mistaken for a hobo! Stoltz’s character Simon is on the lookout for the soul of the nastiest man on earth, which he hopes to save from the movie’s real bad guy, the angel Gabriel! Gabriel is of course played by Christopher Walken, who did the religious thriller thing in The Sentinel and is of course also famous for playing McBain! Walken here has perhaps the worst hairstyling he’s ever had in a picture, and that’s saying a considerable lot, ha ha, especially if you've seen The Dead Zone!

The nastiest man on earth turns out to be some old army man who lives in a dry dusty Arizona desert town! Except he doesn’t live there, he’s dead, ha ha, and even though he’s dead they needed an actor for the role! So they got Patrick McAllister, who hadn’t acted since he played an expectant father in It’s Alive, but that’s fine because all he has to do is lie there in his uniform and get kissed by the film’s other male stars! Virginia Madsen from Dune and Slam Dance plays the friendly teacher of the little girl who is used by Stoltz as a storage vessel for the black and corrupted soul of the army man, which makes her feel sick and occasionally discourse about cutting the heads off of China-men! Yikes!

Meanwhile Walken, in the company of the whiniest Igor-type assistant ever, tracks the girl down to the little town! Daggett has arrived there too, and so the back half of the picture is a game of cat and mouse between Daggett, who wants to protect the girl, and Walken, who wants to tear her apart to get the soul! Why does anyone want this horrible old man’s soul at all? Ha ha, I was never really sure! But things become complicated when Lucifer, played by Viggo Mortenson from A Dangerous Method, appears and threatens everybody with baroque punishments!

So many people and angels are arrayed against Gabriel that the film takes on the feel of a novelty chess tournament with one guy playing against a whole crowd! Walken’s performance is certainly entertaining, and the movie itself is the right sort of hokum to serve as a decorative showcase for it! It’s the only movie directed by the guy who wrote Highlander, and as such aspires to a more complicated mythology than it can afford!

Ha ha, I like the low-tech way the angels have of appearing in a scene - I’d have expected some bad 90s morphing effect and light-show kerfuffle, but instead they just suddenly rush in from outside the frame! Or else they’re already waiting in a room, perched on the back of a chair as is their custom! (Of course there are plenty of 90s era trick effects at other points in the picture and once Mortensen explodes into birds!) You know, it’s always reminded me of another 90’s Dimension horror picture, Phantoms, with which it shares murky storytelling, a cinematographer, and a curiously star-studded cast!

It’s got a bit of gory stuff and it’s entertaining nonsense that doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it very much has that “worked over to a fault by the Weinsteins” feel to it, and that’s never been a good thing, and still less now! The Prophecy is okay, but not good enough to make me want to watch more of them! I give it (generously, I think) two boxed faces!


  1. Weren't there about twenty DTV sequels to this, for some weird reason? I guess it really appeals to the Christian horror fan, but it did nothing for me, though it was nice to see Mr Walken hamming it up. You say "star-studded cast", I say "incredibly overqualified cast"!

    1. There were a bunch of sequels, and they even got Walken to come back for two of them! Never saw them myself, though! And your "star-studded" vs. "Overqualified" distinction is well taken, but you know me - I like to look on the bright side!

  2. In germany this series was called "God's army". I remember liking the first one for its big ideas and Walkens appearance, but never looked up its sequels. Maybe for the better..

    1. Probably! I've never seen them either, and am in no hurry to!