Prophecy (1979)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Robert Foxworth, Talia Shire, Armand Assante

Fans of ’The Godfather’, the ’Star Trek’ films, and the ’Indiana Jones’ Trilogy know that Paramount can seem very cautious and meticulous when it comes to releasing its movies onto DVD. Which makes it all the more strange that they decided to release this much-maligned horror film. (To Paramount’s credit, their releases thus far have been very balanced as far as genre is concerned, and they’ve treated us to some horror classics.) Robert Foxworth stars as a public health official who is sent to Maine (with his wife, Talia Shire) to investigate any possible ecological hazards being created by a lumber company. Once there, he meets angry Native Americans, indignant lumber company officials, and mutant creatures which are a by-product of toxic dumping. The largest of these creatures is a mutant bear which has been terrorizing the forest and which seems unstoppable.

For a film which calls itself ’The Monster Movie’, it seems unusual that the monster doesn’t show up for 75 minutes! ’The Omen’ screenwriter David Seltzer clearly patterned ’Propehcy’ after ’Jaws’, but the fact that NOTHING happens for well over an hour severely hurts the film. Suspense-master John Frankenheimer shows little of his usual directorial flair here, as he allows the film to wander from conversation to conversation, and waiting far too long to reveal the creature. However, once the bear-monster finally shows up, the film vastly improves and the final 22-minutes of ’Prophecy’ are quite good. Also, the film’s message about ecological responsibility is still relevant today. So, ’Prophecy’ is a tough call. The finale, which truly is a ’monster movie’ is quite good, despite some questionable special effects. The first two-thirds of the film is a boring mess which would make a good candidate for ’Myster Science Theater 3000’. One last note, be warned that ’Prophecy’ is similar to ’Jaws’ in the sense that the ’PG’ rating is very questionable. (The Canadian rating is ’18A’.)

Paramount Home Video unleashes ’Prophecy’ onto DVD. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 2.35:1. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a few minor defects from the source print. The colors, most notably the lust forest trees, look very nice. No distracting problems from artifacting or edge enhancement are evident and the image is nearly overly dark. The packaging idenitifies the audio track as Dolby Digital Stereo, but it presents itself as an impressive 2.0 surround track. On my system, I was treated to a nice surround mix, which featured well-placed monster and wind sound effects during the finale. The dialogue is sharp and clear, with no distortion. There are no extras on this DVD.