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The Test of Time: The Prophecy (1995)

08.13.2015by: Ryan Doom

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they continue to be must see? So…the point of this here column is how a film stands against the Test of Time, if the thing holds up for a modern horror audience.

Director: Gregory Widen
Starring: Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, and Virginia Madsen

It’s a strange thing when an actor sticks around long enough to lay down a 60-year career. It’s impressive. More than that, it’s interesting to look over their work to see all those ebbs and flows and how their persona altered and changed. Christopher Walken is one such guy. He’s an Oscar winner (for THE DEER HUNTER) known for drama, then he became a scary dude, then a creepy dude, then video music star, and now he’s become the scary, creepy, funny old dude. That’s a career path. But the one thing we can all see is that Mr. Walken is one talented actor. Back in 1995, Walken joined several PULP FICTION cast mates in a future B movie franchise written and directed by the HIGHLANDER creator. But can it hold up today against the test of time?

Under the examination: THE PROPHECY.

Walken burns without a touch.

THE STORY: The angel Gabriel (Walken) comes down to Earth in order to snatch up the soul of a really bad man which just might end that age old battle between heaven and hell. But of course things are never that easy as a former priest turned detective (Elias Koteas), a school teacher (Virginia Madsen), and a little girl stand in Gabriel’s way. And when Lucifer (Viggo Mortensen) stops by for a visit, things get really hairy. 

Nothing to see here. 

WHAT STILL HOLDS UP:  When you read the synopsis for THE PROPHECY, it all sounds…well, a bit silly. Sure, the movie contains a helluva cast but with multiple cheap sequels (only this film hit “real” theaters) it makes THE PROPHECY that much more “B”. However, I have to say the film surprised me. Not only did everyone involved come to act, but the story is both interesting and thoughtful. None of the characters, not even the devil himself, is played as an absolute hero or villain. Instead, everyone walks somewhere in the middle. 

 As the man with his name at the start of the credits, Walken delivers a hauntingly amusing performance. Ok, he’s not making DEER HUNTER 2: ANOTHER ROUND, but he’s not going through the motions. In fact, the man looks like he’s having fun as he delivers one-liners (like “Study your math, kids. Key to the universe.”) with a smirk one minute, but then sucking out souls and beating folks senseless in the next. He effectively pulls off the funny and the frightening, which isn’t always an easy task. 

Not exactly the best makeup effect. On Koteas' head I mean. 

The straight man in the movie is Elias Koteas, who I always thought has been under appreciated as an actor. The guy has never been out of work, but he never ascended to that next level. Anyway, as Detective Thomas Dagget, he brings the duality of man as a former priest who was a believer but now…well, not so much.  Eric Stoltz shows up as the angel Simon (complete with PULP FICTION long hair), but my favorite roles outside of Walken come from Adam Goldberg and Amanda Plummer as dead people left in limbo that Gabriel won’t let die. Plummer plays the role in a zombie state, but Goldberg has been left living too long. His character, who once tried to kill himself, strangely is the comic relief. Oh, and lastly there’s Viggo freakin’ Mortensen, who might be the real devil in disguise. The guy is good. Now we need another comeback from him.  

Since when did Lucifer look like Jesus?

WHAT BLOWS NOW: THE PROPHECY isn’t a top shelf production which means the effects aren’t exactly the best but thankfully director/writer Gregory Widen used them sparingly. At the same time, with a running time barely past 90 minutes, the movie still feels too long which might come from the plot being perhaps too complicated with so much talk of heaven and hell, angels and demons. Now I like Walken’s sarcastic Gabriel, but if Widen wanted a instill fear into viewers, he needed to cut the jokes. I also wish that Widen had avoided the possessed little girl story thread. The actress does a fine job, but we’ve seen that movie too many times before. Maybe someone else can get possessed for once.

THE VERDICT: Is THE PROPHECY an undervalued masterpiece that never got its due? Umm…no. But it is a highly entertaining film that is better than it should be thanks to Walken, Koteas, and Mortensen. With HIGHLANDER and THE PROPHECY under his belt, Gregory Widen might just be the king of B movie franchises.

 

GET THE PROPHECY BLU RAY HERE

GET THE PROPHECY DVD HERE

Walken loves to sing with the kids...and take their souls. 

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