Prophecy (1979)

This is a different kind of horror flick. I remember watching this as a kid, maybe on a Saturday night after midnight. It is definitely a suspense builder but one that does not see a human (or humanoid) attacking people – it’s a BEAR!

iMDB Synopsis: A Savage beast, grown to monstrous size and driven mad by toxic wastes that are poisoning the waters, spreads terror and death on a Maine countryside.

I forgot Talia Shire was in this movie. And, yes, I screamed, “YO Adrienne!” at the screen.

It starts out with the basic human rights of a woman’s right to choose as well as the disparity of healthcare for marginalized people and throw in some land-grabbing from Native Americans. Forty-three years and things have not changed.

The score for this movie was really wonderful (for a horror flick). Which is polar opposite of how I feel about the sound design and editing.

They had Armand Assante portray a Native American character and I found that to be an interesting choice.

The movie had its aspects of startles but the theme of the entire movie (which in itself is a horror) was that the environment of that area was destroyed by corporate greed and local government, via law enforcement, sided with greed by inappropriately arresting marginalized peoples under the cover of stereotypes. Throw in a thread of family planning and a decision of when it is right to have a child or not.

I was fascinated from beginning to end by this movie and how its stories and substories are overly relevant today. In reading up on the movie, an actual disaster in Japan was what was used as a “map” to creating the story.

Talia Shire: Maggie
Robert Foxworth: Rob
Armand Assante: John Hawks
Richard Dysart: Isely
Victoria Racimo: Ramona
George Clutesi: M’Rai
Tom McFadden: Pilot
Evans Evans:Cellist
Everett Creach: Kelso (as Everett L. Creach)
Charles H. Gray: Sheriff
Graham Jarvis: Shusette
Steve Shemayne: Indian (as Steve Shemayme)
John A. Shemayme: Indian
Jaye Durkus: Sheriff’s Deputy
Kevin Peter Hall: Mutant Bear (uncredited)

Katahdin, the mutant bear-monster, is portrayed by 7″2′ actor/stuntman Kevin Peter Hall, who went on to play other memorable man-in-a-suit monsters of the 80s, including the giant egg-headed alien in Without Warning (1980), the titular creature in Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990), and Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons (1989).

According to the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Review, “David Seltzer has taken the basics of Prophecy (1979) from a real-life apocalypse – the environmental disaster in the Japanese city of Minimata, which came to light in 1958 where it was discovered that mercury waste being dumped into a nearby river from a chemical plant had caused severe mutations and neurological degenerations among the locals. The effects of this consisted of loss of muscular control, vision and hearing, followed eventually by insanity and paralysis”.

Fourth of four consecutive horror movies for actor Robert Foxworth whose previous three features had been Deathmoon (1978), Damien: Omen II (1978) and Ants! (1977).

According to Wikipedia, “the original concept for Katahdin was considerably more terrifying than what would eventually show up on screen. However, when director 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”.

According to the Q-Network Entertainment Portal, this movie was “was part of a string of horror movies in the 1970s and early ’80s in which monsters were spawned from environmental pollution and human tampering with nature”.

A review for this film that appeared in “Time” magazine described Katahdin as “Smokey the Bear with an advanced acne condition”.

The sub-genre for this film is Eco-Horror for Ecological Horror i.e. man-made caused monsters.

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