Friday, May 13, 2011

Prophecy (1979)

Creature-feature stinker Prophecy is hilarious because no one involved seems to realize they’re making an awful movie. Set in northern Maine, the story concerns a clash between pollution-generating white folks and tree-hugging Native Americans, with a big-city physician (Robert Foxworth) and his knocked-up missus (Talia Shire) caught in between. So far, so good. But then the Natives start talking about a legendary nature spirit that’s angry with the way the local woods are being defiled, and the titular prophecy comes true when a pollution-spewed monster arrives to take out the reckless palefaces and anybody else who gets in the way of its goo-covered talons. Aside from a generally histrionic tone, the first clue the movie has gone off the rails is the appearance of Irish-Italian actor Armand Assante as a Native American; not only is he preposterously miscast, he overacts like someone put crank in his morning coffee each day. Foxworth is beardy and serious, offering a typical sane-in-a-world-gone-mad routine, while Shire tries to retain her dignity playing an underdeveloped character who’s mostly around to get endangered. Only the terrific Richard Dysart, playing an employee of the polluting mill, hits the right campy tone. John Frankenheimer, the venerable Manchurian Candidate director who spent much of the ’70s and ’80s making trash beneath his station, ensures unintentional humor by playing everything in Prophecy straight, like the scene of a giant mutated salmon leaping from the depths of a lake to chomp on a duck, or the absurd climax in which a mutated bear-thing tromps around while covered in glistening muck. Steadily building from silliness to outright stupidity, Prophecy is a must-see for fans of genre-movie train wrecks.

Prophecy: FUNKY

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