JULY 10, 2008
The other day I mentioned how I had rented The Prophecy (the "Walken as angel" one), but as it turns out it was actually the lesser respected Prophecy (The "the"-less killer bear one). What confused me was the addition of a “The” to the title on Blockbuster’s envelope, and the fact that I DO have THE Prophecy queued up, as I want to watch the sequels and figured a non canon review of the original would be nice. My sincerest apologies for this boring error.
Boring is the order of the day with the movie, however. For a goddamn killer bear movie, there’s a distinct lack of killer bear scenes. Hell, it’s more of a killer raccoon movie for a while, as while the sole bear attack in the first hour is off-screen, we get to see a couple of raccoons viciously attack our heroes for no apparent reason. Finally, the bear kills a family, but again we are sort of ripped off – he only kills one on screen. Surprisingly, it is the youngest kid of the group who gets the bonus of an on screen kill, presented in still-o-vision:
He rises, laughably constricted in his bag.
The bear howls
He swats him
The kid (in the bag) goes flying...
...and turns into a sack of feathers?
Of course, I’m not too surprised that the film has an actual story, character development, blah blah, because it was directed by John Frankenheimer, a pretty classy guy (Manchurian Candidate, French Connection II, etc). But since even he isn’t good enough to make the killer bear scenes look anything less than ridiculous, I wish they had gotten someone who would truly embrace the concept and go all out, rather than someone who kept trying to make the thing legit. As a result it doesn’t really work either way – it’s too slow to be “awesome”, and the attack scenes are so goofy that they undermine the efforts seen in the serious scenes.
Frankenheimer also skimps on the death scenes. It’s forgivable to not deliver when a minor character is offed, but two of the main characters are killed in a very half-assed manner (one offscreen, AGAIN, and another just gets swiped by the bear and dies instantly, never mentioned again). Come on, man! You gave more of a death scene to that one guy in Reindeer Games who turned out to not really be dead (and was actually the villain)! You can at least show some of (eco-villain) Richard Dysart’s body being eaten by a half mutant bear at the end of the film!
There are also some rather silly plot devices. At one point they find shelter, only for one of the guys (Armand Assante I think) say that it won’t do any good. Why the hell not? Unless the bear is carrying out a Jaws: The Revenge style vendetta against you, I’m sure sitting inside a well built cabin and leaving him the fuck alone until help arrives would be a pretty safe plan of action. And Talia Shire goes to great lengths to keep a baby mutant raccoon (or badger or bear or whatever the hell it’s supposed to be) alive, rather than just put the poor thing out of its misery and cutting off a leg or whatever they need for a sample to prove the evil lumber company (does a movie ever feature a good, wholesome lumber company?) is poisoning the water with mercury.
Too bad Frankenheimer died before ever mounting a sequel, as there are two great possibilities. At the end of the film, what looks like a mutant eagle bear is seen RAWRing in the woods as our heroes fly away, which means that any feather-based children who wander into the woods are still unsafe. Also, Talia Shire is pregnant and she has eaten some possibly contaminated fish. So one movie would deal with eaglebear(pig), and then another one could detail what happens when Shire’s fishbaby grows up and goes apeshit somewhere in urban or suburban Maine. Maybe they could have him terrorize Old Orchard Beach and erase the stink of that Off Season movie. If only Frankenheimer had a son that was known for making high concept crap...
What say you?