I have to admit, I’m walking into this one little reluctantly – I don’t dig the Prophecy films, and even though there’s a couple of recognizable names in the credits like Brad Doruff and Vincent Spano, there’s nothing here to really set me on fire. I’m hoping that Patrick Lussier can bring me some kinetic action and fun the way that he has with his vampire films.
Admittedly, the sight of Christopher Walken in long hair, creeping into a blasphemous tent revival definitely gets my attention. It is interesting to see that the film is picking up pretty much right after from the last installment – I remember that at the end of Prophecy 2, (which I watched for the box set project), Walken’s character had been cast out of heaven and left homeless. He wanders into barnburning tent revival with a heritic preacher who isn’t preaching that God is dead, but rather that he just doesn’t care. As he riles the crowd up, Brad Dourif makes his way up with a gun, shooting the preacher down in the middle of everything.
Miles away, there is a new angel on Earth, but what’s really interesting for me is watching his arrival, as he wanders right past the young crucifix that we saw in Dracula 2000 before heading to a wall full of angelic graffiti. I also noticed that Kenny Banya from Seinfeld is the undertaker again. A nice little bit of continuity throughout the Prophecy films – making sure Christopher Walken isn’t the only return player.
The heretic preacher that Brad Dourif supposedly murders at the beginning of the film, is Danyael – the Nephilim created in the last film. Angel Zophael wants to destroy him, but Gabriel, now immortal, is ready to ally with Danyael , if for no other reason than to just mess with the divines plans.
Over at the police station, Walken is interrogated about the shooting. He toys with a cop as the angel wanders the streets, ultimately arriving at the morgue. Zophael shows up just in time to meet up with Gabriel face-to-face, and they both instantly recognize one another. The problem is, Gabriel never knows whose side Zophael is on and he moves to deny him the Nephilim heart. He’s too late anyhow, Danyael awakens on the slab, and as Zophael runs to get him, Danyael’s already making his escape, right past Banya. I’m not sure who’s more upset, the angel or the Nephilim’s girlfriend who verbally accosts him.
Outside Gabriel spots Danyael making good his escape, while Kenny studies Angels and Nephilim and explains it all the girlfriend so he can catch the audience up on the story so far. It’s good enough to close the first act so that were ready to kick things into action for the last 55 minutes.
There’s things that goes in civil servants just shouldn’t know.
Danyael makes his way to the apartment of Brad Dourif, only to find the gunman dead, his wrists cut open, and on his lap, a bloody braille Bible with angelic symbols scrolled through the pages in Dourif’s blood. Zophael isn’t far behind, witnessing Danyael ’s visit through Dourifs eyes. He follows Danyael to a café where Danyaels been binging sugar… typical for angelic spontaneous tissue regeneration. Zopheal whips out a blade in the chase is on. It’s almost enough, he’s got Daniel and his hand, until walking screeches into the alleyway in a car, slamming into Zophael and granting Danyael a reprieve. He takes it and flees while walking chats up his fellow angel.
Danyaels girlfriend catches up with him, she can’t believe he’s alive. It’s a very doubting Thomas and Christlike gesture he shows her his scars and tells her then that his dying memory is of being in her arms. He transfers the memories of the angels falling to her and then sends her away as Zopheal arrives. Almost as she exits, so feel enters. It’s a quick battle, but what we come to expect from angelic combat. Lots of jumping in an air Melee.
Zophael tracks down Danyael’s girlfriend and uses her to try and find him, racing against time before Danyael can encounter and stop Pyreal, The angel of genocide. Soon, in the girlfriend’s truck, they are on the road, following Danyael on his motorcycle and Gabriel in his classic convertible. Walken is hamming up the scene by switching the radio station from “Earth Angel” over to something that he can play trumpet to while he drives. The girlfriend tries to escape her angelic captor by crashing her truck into a rock and disorienting the angel, but the pistol that she’s packing is sadly ineffective when he comes after her. It doesn’t matter, he’s an angel, and he can convincingly talk her into believing that Danyael is not the same person that rose from the morgue.
It all comes down to a showdown in the desert, (With a quick side stop – breakfast for Walken and a cameo for Mary, little girl from the first film, who points Danyael in the right direction) at Gilles Flats, on a Native American reservation, where they’ll make their stand, and where Danyael must make a choice… to stand with Pyreal to usher in the end of the world, or to oppose him.
Lussier is actually a very good choice for this film, his work on Dracula 2000 shows him to be very comfortable with disturbing and creepy religious iconography. He revels in it when he makes Dracula films, and this seems like a great fit for him – just a natural extension of he comfort zone. His style is evident in quick cuts and flashbacks. Some of the sillier conceits like the way angels perch, are minimized in favor of Catholic iconography and world building. I can also see Lussier has influenceed the interesting angelic switchblade Vincent Spano’s Zophael carries. Indeed his performance as a murderous angel stalking his prey reminds me a great deal of Walken from the first film – in fact, it kind of makes Walken’s presence here completely extraneous. Also, the long hair wig just looks bad. It’s a fairly straightforward story and with the exception of Walken’s presence, stands very much on its own. All of these kind of things end up making it a bit superior to the second film, and Lussier’s far more action oriented vision makes this a surprisingly enjoyable entry in the Prophecy series. Sadly enough, it also marks the end of this particular arc– Gabriel’s story is complete and one could very easily view this as part three of a Prophecy trilogy.
There would be two more films after this, but they begin their own story. It’s a tough thing to do that sort of double duty – stand on your own while integrating into and existing series. Nevertheless it’s a task that Lussier and the Prophecy 3 achieve quite well.
The first time I saw the Prophecy I don’t remember much the film itself, but rather just being really impressed with the idea of hidden scripture in Revelation. I remember being intrigued by the idea of Chris Walken’s angel, and didn’t really know the rest of the cast… Of course now, Viggo Mortensen is a household name due to Lord of the Rings and I’m a huge fan of Amanda Plummer, not only from Pulp Fiction or the World According to Garp, but also from The Fisher King – one of my top five all time favorite films. More importantly though, this is a story by Gregory Widen – you know, the dude who wrote Highlander? Virginia Madsen is also her, but it’s 1995. It’d be easier to list the few movies she WASN’T in during this period (though to be fair, this is only her second horror film, following Candyman). Overall, it’s enough to make me really look forward to this. It’s a great concept, some people lose their faith because Heaven shows them too little, while others lose their faith because heaven shows them too much.
The story begins with the ordination of a priest who trembles at visions of angels falling. This man, Thomas, leaves his priesthood to become a cop instead.
He wanders into his apartment, and finds an angel there, Simon, played by Eric Stoltz , perched on a chair and perusing his books.
“I know you, I know why you left your faith on that floor.”
The angels been reading his thesis, curious if Thomas still believes, or at least thinks he still part of God’s plan.
Outside, Something is arriving. More angels who perch objects and sniff the air as they hunt their prey. Suddenly, the angel is it a Thomas went himself in battle with another one, gouging on his eyes and throw him out the window. It’s this crime scene that Thomas comes upon, a gory face and a blood spattered apartment, brilliantly shocking.
Elsewhere, Virginia Madsen conducts a school choir near an old church. An old soldier is being laid to rest there, and the angel Simon comes by to spirit away his soul, to carry it and hide it somewhere else.
We’re about 20 minutes in before the story really picks up – the book with the extra chapters of Revelation show up in the morgue and we see Steve Hytner for the first time. You might know him better from his recurring role as Kenny Bania on Seinfeld. He’d be a regular in these movies, apearing all the way through the initial trilogy. He’s introduced as Joseph (but we’re still ging t call him Bania, because….come on), explaining the unusual anatomy of an angel – no growth rings on the bones, no optical fibres in the eyes, things like that. Our main character, a Priest trying to take the text back home to study, is where we finally got our first glance of Christopher Walken. Walken looks different here – his slicked back black hair looks dyed and unhealthy, and his friend seems emaciated with unhealthy looking skin. (you might be able to associate that with some of this to events like the one Viggo Morgensen relates, about Walken eating garlic cloves before shooting there seems together ). There is more care taken to make him look otherworldly in this gone then they would ever give to the sequels. still, his swagger works – the way he can make a person faint dead away, or sniffs and smels and even licks debris while he’s huntng or causes a dead body to burst into flames. The clinical detachment and determination which is a interesting contrast to Eric Stoltz character who seems to care about everything and that’s a great job of showing the uniqueness of each angel. It’s still stunt casting, but there’s something about Walkin that only he could really get away with the whole, the whole hunting by smell pantomime. Watching the way angels perch on things, it still feels fresh here – I remember it being innovative, whereas by the later sequels it would just feel tired.
Simon for his part, is hiding in the school… In an abandoned area where he runs into a young girl named Mary. She’s one of Virginia Madsen students, and Simon hides the soul in her.
Walken’s Angel has a minion, Who he’s leaning on help him grab some of of Thomas, something that will help him in his search for Simon. Meanwhile, he’s off to torch the other angel’s body, because we don’t want any evidence of what’s going on here. This is where we start to get The text Thomas has, a lost chapter of the Bible that describes a second war in heaven.
The Angel and his minion are off to the desert… You can see the contempt Walkin has for humans in the way he talks to him and when he discovers the soul has been taken from the body he is enraged. Simon managed to pass the soul on just in time though, because Walkin finds him next, and it’s Simon’s turn to burn .
Meanwhile, Thomas’s investigation leads him out to the school where he meets Madsen who is still caring for Mary… Now sick from the strain of having to hold to souls in her. She draws his memories in crayon and dreams of the dead soldier, describing the way Japenese men bleed in the cold. As Walkin’s Gabriel gets closer, Thomas finds himself as the only protector she and Madsen have.
We are about halfway through the movie when we get the plot – there is still war in heaven, and affection of angels are jealous that God loves humans and not them. It’s the same basic elements that we would get in every other sequel, but it’s never done better than in this first film. I know, big surprise – the original film is superior to all the sequels, but to be fair – that’s not always true. A lot of times the real mythology of a series, its heart, shows up on the second or third film (fr instance, we never hear about Ash working at “S” mart until the third Evild Dead movie. We don’t get Jason’s hockey mask until the third Friday movie. Heck, Luke dosen’t even find out Darth Vader is is father until the second Star Wars movie…..spoiler alert by the way). Not so here, the Prophecy is born with it’s lore and mythos fully realized. Its engaging and original, but only once. Despite being one of those typical 90s horror movies with no blood, latex, or monsters, it surprisingly stands up to the test of time and ended up being a much better film than what I was expecting with shocking number of familiar faces.