Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Prophecy Films

So I finally got around to watching The Prophecy films. I bought them in this nifty dvd which collected all three films in one disk, so I ended up watching them back to back. I know that these films have gone past their third installment, I believe they are currently on their fourth sequel, but I don’t even count the ones after part 3 because they don’t have Christopher Walken in them, they feel more like a cash in, a last desperate attempt to milk the franchise for all it’s worth. I just don’t have any interest in them. But if anyone out there thinks that Prophecy: Forsaken (2005) and Prophecy: Uprising (2005) are worth a damn, let me know, I just might give them a shot at some point. But for now, they don’t even register on my radar. This review will cover only the first three films. So it’s a three for one deal, enjoy!

The thing about these movies is that they started out with a decent theatrical release, which was the first film, the sequels after that all went straight to dvd which always raises a red flag for me because they make me think that if they went straight to dvd, then they weren’t considered good enough by the producers, at least not good enough to bother with a theatrical release. So maybe this is the reason why I had never bothered seeing these straight to dvd sequels that followed the original. But curiosity always gets the best of me and I found this dvd with all three so cheap that I went for it. I’m glad I did, the first three films are fairly decent on their own right.

The interesting thing about these first three Prophecy films is that they all had a decent cast. I mean, take a look at the first one where we have the always entertaining Christopher Walken as the human hating angel, Gabriel. You see on these series of films, some angels hate humans because they are jealous of them. They feel that God loves humans more then angels, so some angels have decided to completely annihilate the human race, just so they could be number one again. They want to make it like before, when God loved them best. In order to achieve this, Gabriel wants to find the soul of the most evil human on the planet, who just so happens to be a military leader for the U.S. army. Just watching Walken playing an angel is great, he has such fun with the character; who by the way gets funnier as the series progresses. He spews lines like “I’m an angel, I kill firstborns while their mamas watch!” These movies are that much enjoyable simple because Walken is in them. So anyways we also get Elias Koteas, the guy who always plays secondary characters in every single movie he’s been in except this one, where he   plays detective Thomas Daggett, a priest wannabe who every now and then  gets horrific visions from god. The whole thing makes you wonder why God would send someone such horrible images! But whatever, Daggett is investigating the appearance of dead angels, which keep popping up across the city. Along for the ride is Virginia Madsen who plays a grade school teacher and the always underused Eric Stoltz who plays the good angel that’s trying to stop Gabriel. But the avalanche of talent isn’t over my friends! The amazing cast continues with Amanda Plummer as a zombie/ghoul who helps Gabriel move around and Viggo Mortensen playing Satan himself! So we got an amazing cast rounding up this horror film! Was the film worth it?

Well yeah. The story is all about humans, it preaches on about how we are capable of a lot of good, but unfortunately, a lot of evil as well. The idea that an angel needs the soul of an evil human to help him destroy humanity itself says a lot about how the filmmakers see humanity. We are creatures capable of such violence, that our violent capabilities rival even that of God’s own angels! We are the experts on the subject; so much so that they need US to destroy humanity; as Lucifer himself puts it: “Humans -and how I love talking monkeys for this- know more about war and treachery of the spirit than any angel” The film unfolds in a very dark and eerie manner, with angels running around the city killing each other as lightning strikes the skies. Somehow American Indian folklore works its way into the film! Same as in many horror films, Indians always have the best connection with anything supernatural, which really is something of a cliché in horror films. There’s always an Indian burial ground, or an Indian spirit, or an Indian shaman to help out. The thing about these Prophecy movies is that they are always on the verge of some big apocalyptic event happening, but nothing ever does. The big war between angels and humans, or good angels vs. rebel angels never really consummates. But whatever, the in between was also fun.

These films are all filled with angels crouching on top of furniture or on top of buildings like birds; problem is they never really fly! I never got his about these movies, these guys are angels but they don’t seem to ever use their wings for flying. We do get to see a five second sequence of angels flying in the clouds, but we see it from afar, and briefly. And they re-use that same stock footage on a couple of these films, which I hated. I guess it had something to do with budgetary limitations, but we never really get to take a good look at the angels spreading their wings and flying. If an angel opens its wings, we only see the shadow of that, or someone’s reaction to it, but we never see the freaking angels taking flight. They do skip around a lot and jump around a lot though. I found it funnyt that since angels don’t know how to handle human machinery, they have to resort to having humans doing things for them like driving them around town or showing them how to use a computer or a walkie talkie. Why don’t they just fly where they need to go instead of using a car?

So, in comes Prophecy II (1998) which was the most difficult to watch of these three films. I found it extremely boring, and disappointing for various reasons. Number one, I didn’t like the fact that the film resorted to using so much stock footage from the first film. To me this is a lame ass, lazy move from any filmmaker. You are showing us the same images from the first film! Don’t do this! We as an audience feel cheated as hell! Still, the director felt the need to show us the same sequence of angels flying far up in the sky, and these flashbacks of angels fighting that we already saw on the first film. Laaazy! On this second chapter of the Prophecy series Jennifer Beals has a one night stand with an angel. The angel is looking for the right girl to father his child. You see, the angels want to conceive a half breed, a half human, half angel child. This half breed is the one destined to stop the rebel angels from committing genocide. So Jennifer Beals character functions as a “Virgin Mary” of sorts on this film.

Even Satan doesnt want this guy in hell! 

Now here's where things dont stick to bible lore: in the bible the sons of angels are called ‘The Nephilim’. According to the bible angels actually looked down the from heavens at the eartlhy women and foudn them incredibly hot. Cant say I blame them, I'm merely a human and I find them irresistible. Yet, this idea of angels having sexual desires makes no sense because according to the bible, angels are supposed to be asexual! So anyhows, they found earth girls hot and materialized so they could get a taste of female flesh! So any way, they ended up having babies, and these sons of angels ended up being evil giants who terrorized the land. That’s right my friends, according to the bible giants once walked the earth! And they were evil! Yet on this movie the Nephilim is supposed to be some sort of savior! Humanities last hope for survival. See what I mean? No sense whatsoever. On top of this, the angel that screws Jessica Beals doesn’t even care for her, he just uses her! The bastard! Point is that this angel ends up committing what the bible refers to as fornication, which is just a big word for having sex before getting married. According to the bible, this is one of the biggest sins you could commit against god! But this angel doesnt care, he sins in order to defeat the bad angels? And these are supposed to be the good guys! So anyhow, this second chapter in the series has a cool cast, again Christopher Walken returns as Gabriel, we get Jennifer Beals as Rosario, we get Eric Roberts and Danzig as angels. And as an added bonus Brittany Murphy played the ghoul who does Gabriel’s beading!  But in spite of this film having a great cast, this second chapter in the series feels like an in-between chapter in a much larger story. It feels like they were setting everything up for something bigger. And that’s exactly what they were doing with this second film. The third film was far more entertaining and fulfilling. It wanted to end the series with a big bang! I think it achieved it.

Brittany Murphy in one of her earliest roles

The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) surprised the hell out of me. Having seen the past two films and finding them only mildly entertaining, I went in to this third chapter with very low expectations, yet I’m happy to inform that I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it’s the one that I enjoyed the most out of all three! One thing I like about these first three films is that they have continuity to them. Characters return and reappear; problem is that sometimes it’s difficult to realize this because they keep changing actors. In spite of this, you do get a sense of continuity, and Walken’s Gabriel is the one character that holds all three films together. One element I enjoyed about this one is that Gabriel is human on this one, and so he is kind of getting used to being human. He likes living on earth, he’s dropped the short black hair and trench coat for long white hair and living like a bum on the streets. On this film he is slowly learning to actually like humans. With this film they pulled a Terminator 2 (1992) on us and went and made the villain a good guy this time around. Walken is no longer hell bent on destroying humanity, he’s lightened up. One hilarious scene has him just enjoying a drive down the dessert on this beat up old car trying to play a trumpet as he drives, cause you know, according to the bible, angels play trumpets in heaven all the time, which kind of makes you think about who gives angels music classes, and who makes these holy musical instruments? 

But who cares seeing Christopher Walken playing a trumpet as he drives is hilarious right?! In Gabriel’s place we now have a villain called Pyriel who is still very much interested in destroying all humans and proclaiming himself the “next god”. The Nephilim Danyael (who was introduced in the second film) is now all grown up and has lost all faith in God. In fact he runs a church that preaches against god! I thought this was so interesting! But across the film he learns to accept his true destiny which is going up against the Pyriel, the leader of the rebel angels.

This third film distinguishes itself for various reasons, first, it was directed by one Patrick Lussier. Now this is a director whom you can either love or hate, depending on how much cheese you can take. Lussier is the guy behind Drive Angry (2011), a film I enjoyed hating. He also made My Bloody Valentine (2009) and is currently hard at work putting the finishing touches on Halloween III (2012). He’s also the guy behind all those Dracula 2000 movies. All of these films are high in octane and cheese, unapologetic about their b-movie nature. I guess this is the reason why this Prophecy film was so fun to watch. The previous two films feel dreary and boring when compared to this one which is filled with chase sequences and matrix-style fighting. Also, it has this awesome showdown during its last sequences between two angels that is the most exciting thing in the whole trilogy. The film even has a happy ending to it! 

Another thing that made this one cool: it has Brad Dourif playing a gun totting religious fanatic who walks around with the bible in one hand and a gun to shoot any infidels on the other! This is yet another crazy character to add to Brad Dourif long list of freaky characters he's portrayed on film.Well, I guess I’ve run out of things to say about these movies. Not a bad trilogy of films, the third film offers up a nice wrap up to the trilogy and has finality to it. At least this series isn’t as bad as the Children of the Corn movies which by the way I will comment on soon. But these Prophecy films prove one thing to me once again: God hates to appear in horror films,  while Satan loves them. For proof of that check out one of my most popular blog posts: God and Satan inFilms. And another thing, if you freeze frame the last image in Prophecy II, just before the ending credits you can see a face forming in the clouds, while thunder and lightning crackle…don’t know if that qualifies as an appearance by God or not, what do you guys think?

Rating: The Prophecy (1995)  3 out of 5
Rating: The Prophecy II (1998) 2 out of 5
Rating:  The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) 3 1/2 out of 5 



Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Excellent overview Franco! I've seen the first PROPHECY film, and I enjoyed it a lot. But for whatever reason, I just haven't got around to the sequels. It was the perfect vehicle for Christopher Walken, who is easily the standout aspect of the first film.

Jack Thursby said...

Love the Prophecy series. Very flawed movies but Walken turns them into b-movie gold with his performance.

It's well worth watching all three movies because they do this nice arc with Walken slowly turning from villain to hero. DTV sequels movies are usually all about rehashing the original but these sequels felt like some creativity was put in to the story.

Dimension have a bad rep for DTV sequels based on their treatment of Hellraiser and Children of the Corn but actually a couple of their series aren't too bad. Mimic 2&3 and Dracula 2&3 I really quite enjoyed.

Part 3 was probably the best of the series. Lussier was an editor on a lot of Wes Craven films and he knows how to cut a film. Part 1 had the most interesting idea though, the execution by Greg Widen just didn't work (I think it was his directing debut, he also wrote Highlander).

As for Forsaken and Uprising, yeah, don't go near them. Shot in Eastern Europe, for peanuts, barely 70 minute runtime. Just the worst kind of cash-in.

Franco Macabro said...

Shaun: I felt the same way about them, I thought "why bother, they didnt even make it to theaters", but I by the third one I kind of got into them, with the whole "conclusion" and what not. I mean, for straight to video fare, these Prophecy films aint that bad.

Jack: Agree about watching all three, I was actually really into the whole story during the last moments of the third one and when finally Walken turns into glistening doves, I was like "cool!"

The second one I didnt love, but it was still watchable, because of the cast members and the continuity. But it seems to me like the second one tried to introduce some ideas that were never used or followed up on. For example this idea of Eden now being an industrial waste land and angels crawling around it to defend it...that idea was completely ignored in part 3. Eric Robert's character and his gang of angels were never seen again.

Greg Widen's Prophecy was dark and gloomy, with a deliberately slow pace, but Part 3 was the contrary fast and flashy and entertaining. Lussier obviously wanted to make an impression with his first movie, I think he achieved it. He went on to direct many more decent straight to video movies like the ones you mentioned and even graduated into theatrical releases. My Bloody Valentine was a fun time if I remember correctly. Drive Angry was so bad it was good.

Lussier is kind of like a big budget theatrical version of Roger Corman or Lloyd Kaufman! He specializes in b-movies and he's proud of it. I gottta admit I'm beginning to understand what he does with his films. I initially despised Drive Angry, until I realized how much fun I had with it.

I had a feeling about those last two Prophecy sequels. Two straight to video movies shot back to back sounds like a quick way to make a buck.

Mr. Fiendish said...

seeing Danzig in the second one really made me laugh

Anonymous said...

The 4 and 5 movies are good too but a change up in surroundings and characters but plot was really good, the concept of all 5 movies stays yhe same. But different strategic battles, enjoyed them so much I was Googleing to see if there is a 6 movie hopeing there is another in production, but really hoping its a bigger budget and alot of action and gore and demons fighting angels hope it gets really fucki.g ceazy since the 5th movie insinuates the antichrist and Armageddon

Unknown said...

In the prophecy 2 when he's walking her home before the end of the house she asked if they were married she never said anything about a divorce she said she was married so therefore she's still married therefore she could have sex now I know you can get in the saying well you're not supposed to to one your neighbor's wife or husband worksheet and all that stuff but he also made clear to make sure he was no longer around


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