Review: The Prophecy (1995)

What a confused muddle of a film! What a waste of time! I would say that this film was a waste of money too, except obviously they did not spend much money on it. Presumably, in 1995 actors like Viggo Mortensen and Christopher Walken could be had without producers digging too deeply into their pockets. No need to shoot in a fancy Hollywood studio either. Pick some washed up town in the west with an abandoned copper mine, and a dilapidated school that could probably be rented for a couple hundred bucks. Viola! A set! Fill the rest of the movie with actors and actresses who rarely go beyond television like Amanda Plummer and Virginia Madsen. I doubt they paid them more than union scales.

Bloom County Comic Strip

Next, keep your fingers crossed. Hope that more than twenty years after The Exorcist was released that there will still be enough of a market for people being possessed by spirits to line your investors’ pockets. Come to think of it, The Exorcist was pretty dreadful too but at least it was novel. The Prophecy though is not the least bit scary, though at times it is a wee bit gross. You may find yourself looking at your watch and asking yourself, “Is it over yet?” I know I did.

If however like my wife and I you are connoisseurs of bad movies, this is one may be worth renting, although one viewing should be enough. Here is the plot as best I can figure out. When God distanced himself from Lucifer and his group of dark angels, Lucifer got really pissed. He has been working hard since to get the big guy’s attention. What he needs to get God’s attention is a soul belonging to a recently deceased citizen of this washed up town. It inhabits the body of an officer who while fighting in the Korean War also engaged in a little harmless cannibalism. Apparently, to exchange a soul you have to do it through the mouth. The Angel Simon (Eric Stoltz) has the duty to retrieve the soul from the body of this ex-cannibal, with the help of his wild-eyed sidekick Jerry (Adam Goldberg) who apparently is already dead, sort of.

Simon for some reason is one of the good angels. In trying to keep the soul away from the Angel Gabriel (Walken), whom I always assumed was one of the good angels, he has to redeposit into the body of another living person. He picks a young girl named Mary (a virtual no-name actress named Moriah ‘Shining Dove’ Snyder). She is in turn a pupil of the very radiant and hot (in a girl next door kind of way) Katherine Henley (Virginia Madsen). Henley teaches to a diminished set of students of all ages in this washed up copper mining town. Most of the classrooms are boarded up, but some of the students like to hang out during recess in a creepy classroom upstairs. It is here that Mary stumbles upon Simon.

Mary quickly discovers that having the soul of an evil cannibal does not agree with her. She quickly gets sick and is taken back to the reservation where she is attended to by her Indian grandmother. Detective Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas) has the dubious privilege of figuring out what is going on. It helps to move the plot along that Detective Daggett at one point nearly became a priest, and only left because while he was about to be ordained he saw visions of dark angels.

At least the angels in this movie are not one-dimensional. They have a perverse sense of humor, which must have evolved from being so long out of God’s favor. That is likely why Walken was hired for his role as Gabriel. Lucifer (Viggo Mortensen) does not show up until near the end of the movie. In what is supposed to be a climactic scene, but which is not the least bit scary, the bad angels converge at a place where an Indian shaman is trying to extract the evil soul from the body of poor, innocent Mary. She never pukes like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, but she does spit out stuff from time to time. That will have to do.

When the angels show up, the movie often feels more campy than serious. The movie’s main problem is that you simply do not care about any of the characters. We might have felt sorry for poor little Mary if we actually learned enough about the girl to care about her. We do not. The characters are more cardboard than real so it is hard to give a damn about any of them.

Oddly enough, the movie must have done well enough because The Prophecy 2 was released in 1998 and Mary reappears in The Prophecy 3: The Ascent. I have to assume that enough moviegoers enjoyed Walken’s humorous approach toward playing Lucifer to want to see him in the role again. That mystifies me because he was not that good in the original. I have to assume the original was so cheap to make that sequels were not risky.

I wish I had been prophetic enough to warn you away from this movie. If your taste in bad movies goes toward the campy kind, see it. Otherwise, give it wide berth.

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