Friday, January 11, 2019

WANTED ON BLU-RAY: PROPHECY (1979)


WANTED ON BLU-RAY: PROPHECY (1979)

Rated PG | Color | 102 minutes

UPDATE (08/22/2019): John Frankenheimer's PROPHECY is coming to Blu-ray on November 26th, 2019 - Get yourself a copy HERE!

Back in the late 80s - early 90s, I caught a ton of cool eco-Horror flicks on cable television. I watched in awe and excitement as humanity battled killer sharks, bears, alligators & crocodiles, piranha, crabs, and even SLUGS, but few captured my imagination more than John Frankenheimer's PROPHECY.

With its eco-friendly message of "don't pollute the environment, lest you bring about the wrath of ManBearPig," PROPHECY saw a VHS release in 1982, and got regular play on TBS, TNT, and even USA Network years after that before finally arriving on DVD in January of 2002.

With studios raiding their vaults in recent years, you'd think that this gem would have made the leap to Blu-ray by now, especially after building up a definite cult following. But sadly that isn't the case, and PROPHECY continues to languish in DVD hell, even as this cautionary tale of exploding sleeping bags celebrates its 40th anniversary!

Synopsis: Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth - the voice of "Ratchet" in Michael Bay's TRANSFORMERS films) and his wife Maggie (Talia Shire - the ROCKY series) head to the forests of Northern Maine to investigate the impact a paper mill is having on the surrounding environment and the indigenous Native American tribe. Though the plant's director Bethel Isely (Richard Dysart - THE THING) assures Dr. Verne that things are on the up and up, the investigator quickly surmises that the entire area has been polluted with Methylmercury.

The result of this prolonged exposure to the hazardous chemical has caused a variety of health issues with the local natives, turned raccoons into crazed killers, and resulted in oversized fauna, most notably a monstrous mutant bear (portrayed by both Tom McLoughlin AND Kevin Peter Hall, aka the original PREDATOR)! Eventually Dr. Verne, his wife, Isley, and a small group of other hapless humans (including Armand Assante and Victoria Racimo) find themselves hunted by "Katahdin," and must either exit the woods or find a way to kill the deformed beast!

HONEY STOPS THE PAIN!

PROPHECY is a shockingly well-made film with an impressive cast (though Armand Assante proves to be a bit melodramatic at times), but it definitely takes its subject matter way too seriously. The plight of indigenous people, the rape of the natural world, the evils of capitalism, and the dangers of pollution all take a backseat to what is essentially a silly rubber monster movie. And yet, that's part of this its charm. PROPHECY is an unheralded classic that could use a little more respect, and deserves a Blu-ray release dammit!

Availability: You can stream PROPHECY instantly or buy a digital copy in HD. For lovers of physical media you can still obtain the old 2002 Paramount DVD (which used to be like $5 - $10 and now goes for $13 - $75+!), OR you can get the Warner Bros. reissue (released May 21, 2013) which is currently going for around $25. The only major difference between both of these (as far as I can tell) is the cover art. You can also watch a low-resolution upload of PROPHECY for free on YouTube.

Current Rights Holder: Paramount, though I find it quite curious that Warner Bros. was the last company to distribute PROPHECY on DVD. If Warner still somehow retained the rights, there's a slight chance that maybe Scream Factory could put this title out on Blu-ray, as they have been announcing a lot of Warner titles as of late. (Mainly Hammer Horror films.) That likely isn't the case, therefore Paramount is the sole reason PROPHECY hasn't been released to Blu-ray yet.

And I'm going to focus my burning glare upon them until that day comes!

Blu-ray Wishlist:
  • A new 4K restoration of the film from an archival print. (Though I will settle for a 2K scan all things considered.
  • Two cuts of the film. (Theatrical and Extended Cuts.) 
  • Original Mono and newly created 5.1 Audio mix.
  • Interviews with surviving cast and crew - Talia Shire, Robert Foxworth, Armand Assante, Victoria Racimo, Tom McLoughlin, and anyone that helped bring "Katahdin" and the other creatures in the film to life.
  • Audio commentary by film historian and eco-horror buff Lee Gambin.
  • Deleted scenes and extended scenes.
  • Gallery of production photos and promotional art.
  • Trailers
PROPHECY's been a long-time favorite of yours truly, and I would love it if Paramount gave it the royal treatment! Even if we never get to see all of the excised gore or the steamy Foxworth/Shire love scene, it'd be great just to have a copy of the film in HD with improved audio quality! If you are as passionate as I am about Paramount's mutant melty-bear eco-horror classic, then let them know on Twitter and Facebook! Maybe if we make a little noise on the web (and if Hell freezes over), they'll take notice and take pity upon those of us that still collect physical media.



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