- Prophecy (film)
caption = Promotional poster for "Prophecy"
name = Prophecy
Robert L. Rosen
Robert Foxworth Talia Shire Armand Assante
Harry Stradling Jr.
runtime = 102 min.
released = 15 June,
language = English
imdb_id = 0079758
amg_id = 1:39513
"Prophecy" is a
1979horror film starring Robert Foxworth, Talia Shireand Armand Assante. It was directed by John Frankenheimerand written by David Seltzer. A novelizationof the film, written by Seltzer as well, was also published, with the tagline "'A Novel of Unrelenting Terror."
Not to be confused with the 1995 film "
The Prophecy", this is an ecological fable about the evils of industrial pollution. The film is a prophecy of what might happen.
Tracking two lost lumberjacks through the night, a rescue team nearly follows the trail over a cliff. One of the hounds is attacked and the team abseil down to investigate. There they are attacked and killed by a ferocious beast.
Dr Robert Verne (
Robert Foxworth) is fed up with dealing with the squalor of city tenements. He does not feel he is making a difference. He accepts a job from the Environmental Protection Agency to write a report on a logging operation near Androscoggin in Maine. The loggers are in dispute with the local American Indians who are the Opies (O.P.s), the original people.
Dr Verne's wife Maggie (
Talia Shire) accompanies him on the trip. She is pregnant but is apprehensive to tell her husband as he is set against having children. When they fly in, they meet a man, Travis Nelson ( Burke Byrnes) and his two children Paul and Kathleen who are embarking on a trek into the wilderness. They also meet Bethel Isely ( Richard A. Dysart), the director of the paper mill, who is to be their host. He tells them about his missing rescue team and lays the blame at the feet of the Opies. They have their own explanation: Katahdin, a vengeful spirit of the forest that has been awakened by the activities of the loggers. Isely describes Katahdin as "larger than a dragon with the eyes of a cat".
As Isely drives the couple to their cabin, their path is barred by a party of Opies. They refuse to let Isely's people pass and a fight ensues between the leader of the Opies John Hawks (
Armand Assante) and Kelso ( Everett Creach), one of Isely's heavies. The heavy is armed with a chainsawwhile Hawks has only a broadaxe. The scuffle ends with Hawks laid on the ground with the chainsaw at his throat. The Opies relent and let the cars pass. Verne and Maggie are visibly shocked by the incident.
While fishing, Verne sees a huge
salmondevour a duck. Later, after he and Maggie have eaten his catch, they are attacked in their cabin by a deranged raccoon. Verne kills it and sends a tissue sample to be tested.
The next day Hawks and his wife Ramona (
Victoria Racimo) approach Dr Verne to put over their side of the story. If Verne is concerned about the environment then he should include the people in his assessment. Something is making the people ill: still births, mental illness and birth defects are rife. Hawks takes Verne and Maggie to the home of Hector M'Rai ( George Clutesi), Ramona's grandfather. Hector claims to have seen Katahdin and describes him as "part of everything in God's creation". Verne sees plant roots growing on the surface that should be underground; Hawk nets a bullfrog-sized tadpolefrom the water to show Verne; Hector has cigarette burns on his hand but feels no pain. As the evidence mounts the idyllic setting gradually takes on a sinister hue.
Verne and Maggie tour the paper mill to look for incriminating evidence but the chemicals used in the processing are demonstrated to never leave the plant. Isely tells them that the water is routinely tested for purity. As they leave however Verne notices mercury deposits on Maggie's boots. It is a
mutagenthat causes birth defects and progressive nerve damage. It has long been used in logging as a fungicidebecause it is cheap. It will not show up in Isely's water purity tests because it sinks to the bottom. Verne needs more evidence and determines to take blood tests from the Opies.
That night, the Nelson family, trekking in the woods, are slaughtered by a monster. As Verne and Maggie are taking blood samples the next day, Isely and Sheriff Bartholomew Pilgrim (
Charles H. Gray) arrive to arrest Hawks and his men for the murders. Hawks however escapes. Verne, Maggie and Ramona take a helicopter to the campsite to investigate the killings. Verne and Ramona find huge scratch marks on the trees while Maggie finds two mutant bear cubs trapped in a salmon poacher's net. One of the cubs is still alive and Verne is determined to save it so it can serve as empirical evidence of the contamination. However the weather has turned and the pilot, Huntoon ( Tom McFadden) refuses to take off in the high wind.
They make for Hector's home and Verne sends Hawks to fetch Isely and the sheriff. Verne sets up an emergency room in one of Hector's tepees and helps the cub survive. Maggie is clearly distressed by the ordeal so Verne takes her aside and assures her that it will all be over soon. She tells him that their nightmare is just beginning: she is pregnant and she has eaten contaminated fish like the mother of the mutant cubs.
Isely and Sheriff Pilgrim arrive and see the mutant cub. Isely is contrite. Then all hell breaks loose as the bear monster (
Kevin Peter Hall) attacks the camp in search of her cubs. The bear monster earns the name of Katahdin, after the native legend. Everyone seeks shelter in tunnels beneath Hector's home. All goes quiet so Pilgrim decides to check it out. He pokes his head up out of the tunnel and Katahdin kills him.
The next day, the survivors make their way out of the forest. The helicopter is not an option as Huntoon was severely mauled in the beast's initial attack. Isely heads up to Mount Emery to try to reach a radio tower and call for help. He manages to reach the gates before the monster kills him. The others find the Opie village deserted but take a truck and try to drive out along the winding forest road. Katahdin turns the truck over and finishes Huntoon off by devouring his head. The others run off through the forest with the beast in pursuit.
They arrive at the river and swim across. The cub panics in the water and severely bites Maggie. They watch Katahdin kill Hector from the far bank. It seems reluctant to follow them at first but then enters the water and vanishes. They believe it drowned but then it suddenly emerges. They take shelter in a log cabin but Katahdin tears down the walls. Maggie is knocked unconscious by debris. Hawks shoots arrows into Katahdin's hide until it floors him. Verne picks up an arrow, then Katahdin hoists him up, only to be stabbed repetitively in the face and eyes until it collapses into the lake. Rob notices that the monster still moves slightly and leaps onto the beast and stabs it a few moretmes until its corpse finally sinks below the water.
As Verne and Maggie fly over the forest the next day, on their way home, another monster is seen to raise its ugly head.
Robert Foxworth................ Dr. Robert Verne
Talia Shire................ Maggie Verne
Armand Assante................ John Hawks
*Victoria Racimo ................ Ramona Hawks
Richard A. Dysart................ Bethel Isley
George Clutesi................ Hector M'Rai
*Burke Byrnes ................ Travis Nelson (Father)
*Mia Bendixsen ................ Kathleen Nelson (Girl)
*Johnny Timko ................ Paul Nelson (Boy)
*Charles H. Gray ................ Sheriff Bartholomew Pilgrim
*Tom McFadden ................ Huntoon (Helicopter Pilot)
*Graham Jarvis ................ Victor Shusette
*Everett Creach ................ Kelso
David Seltzer's novelization of the film contains numerous differences from the film, as well as considerable background information on all of the characters. Notable examples include:
*Isely explained that the Opies comprised several tribes: the Ashinabegs, the
Passamaquoddy, the Wampanoags and the Yuroks. This may explain Hector M'Rai's incongruous tepee home. A wigwammay have been more in keeping with the area.
*Rob and Maggie met when Maggie's orchestra played for a charity benefit at a children's hospital.
*John Hawks is half-white, and lived as a white man for several years, in fact, after the Pitneys (the founders of the lumber company) paid for him to have an education. He returned to assist his people in their struggle against the lumber company after several years abroad.
*Bethel Isley is from
Atlanta, Georgia, and has two children in addition to the wife who he mentions in the film.
*Huntoon the helicopter pilot is also married and has a child. His wife and son constantly worry about him crashing.
*Ramona ("Romona" in the book) is given the last name of Peters and is an old girlfriend of John Hawks', rather than his wife or even his sister (as some reviews for the film have suggested).
*There is a
prologue, set during the spring, in which a normal bear is killed by Katahdin while it is stalking a deer.
*The film's opening scene, involving the rescue party being killed, occurs in the third chapter of the book, with Rob and Maggie's introduction scenes being the first scenes after the prologue. The party members also die differently than they do in the movie: rather than rappelling down to retrieve the fallen bloodhound, they are all yanked off the cliff at once by the unseen monster at the opposite end of the leash.
*Instead of being introduced at the orchestra and discussing being pregnant with her friend, Maggie is introduced going to see
gynocologistPeter Hamlisch, a character who does not appear in the film.
*The tenant woman is very hostile towards Rob, rather than grateful, and instead of running into Victor Shusette outside the slum as in the movie, Rob rides with the sick infant to the hospital, where it ultimately succumbs to its fever and dies. Shusette then arrives and they have their conversation about Rob needing to find a new line of work there in the hospital hallway.
*Shusette does not suggest Rob take Maggie with him to Maine. Rather, he and Maggie make this decision by themselves at their apartment prior to Rob leaving. Maggie comes because she hopes the calm country setting will make it easier for her to tell her husband about her pregnancy.
*The Nelson family out camping also includes Jeannine Nelson, wife of Travis and mother of Paul and Kathleen. It is also revealed that Travis is employed as a history teacher.
*It has not yet begun raining when Rob, Maggie and Ramona arrive at the Nelson family's campsite to examine it. The rain only begins during their trip to M'Rai's camp.
*Katahdin is described to have large membrane-wings between the front/rear limbs, akin to a
*Sheriff Pilgrim dies differently. Instead of surviving Katahdin's attack long enough to make it into the underground tunnels with the others, and perishing later, he is killed during the initial attack when Katahdin steps on his head. (Also, Rob and the others collect the guns of Pilgrim and his deputy after the attack, and use them against the monster later, to no effect.)
*Katahdin's attack on the carrier vehicle is longer and more drawn out. She pursues the truck for some length before finally tipping it over. Hawks falls behind not because he tries to assist Huntoon, the pilot, but because he becomes trapped in the cab of the truck, but manages to get away while Huntoon is being killed.
*M'Rai dies differently, and his reason for remaining behind to confront Katahdin is actually given. He is crushed instead of picked up and thrown, and the reason he remains behind is because he believes he can reason with what he believes to be his people's protector.
*The revelation of another monster bear is revealed through the eyes of an alcoholic forest ranger, suffering the effects of mercury poisoning just as M'Rai had been (this character was introduced earlier in the novel shortly after the incident with the raccoon).
*There is an epilogue in which the pregnant Maggie, injured in Katahdin's attack on the cabin, is flown to the hospital in Portland, and Victor Shusette stops by to visit her and Rob.
*Filmed in British Columbia in 1978, this movie marked the beginning of "Hollywood North", the major start to the development of a massive film production business in Vancouver and other parts of the province of British Columbia, in Canada. Since then hundreds of "American" movies have been filmed in the Canadian province (source IMDB).
*Factual error : There are no Grizzly bears in Maine.
*The 2006 season 10 episode of "
South Park", " Manbearpig", features a purported creature of the same name, that Al Goreconstantly babbles about. Manbearpig is rumored to be a spoof/homage of Khatadin, the actual creature in "Prophecy".fact|date=June 2008
*The original concept for Khatadin was considerably more terrifying then what would eventually show up on screen. However, When directer John Frankenheimer saw the concept, he suggested that it should be altered to look more "Bear-like". Interestingly, the original concept was actually quite close to the poster art.
*Some violence/gore and other scenes were deleted not because of the censors but on a decision made by John Frankenheimer. This included a longer close-up of a man's headless corpse and a shot of Khatadin graphically disemboweling Isley (both deemed "gratuitous"), a flashback to the night where Rob and Maggie have sex (deleted for time), and extensions of several scenes, including a longer tour of the paper mill and Rob fishing, which showed him falling asleep and later waking up in the sun.
Methylmercury Minamata disease
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