Of course, if you happen to do any research before giving “Prophecy” a try, you may discover its reputation is less than stellar. Setting aside the typical monster movie bias (as evidenced by Siskel & Ebert’s on-air review of the film, which Ebert erroneously compares to the not-very-similar “Alien”), “Prophecy” had a good deal of trouble behind-the-scenes, resulting in an admittedly messy final cut.
Perhaps audiences and critics were disappointed with the film given the involvement of numerous cinematic veterans, among them director John Frankenheimer (of “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Seconds” fame), writer David Seltzer (fresh off writing “The Omen”) and star Talia Shire (coming from “The Godfather” and “Rocky”). Frankenheimer commissioned Seltzer to write an original horror movie for him to make, and the writer came up with a story that feels like a bizarre combination of “The China Syndrome” and “Jaws,” where the mercury runoff from a paper mill is poisoning the local Native American population as well as the nearby wildlife, something that the owners of the mill are covering up.
Until, that is, a creature begins murdering people in and around the mill, causing the EPA to send representatives played by Shire and Robert Foxworth to investigate. According to an interview on the Blu-Ray release, Seltzer believed Frankenheimer was surrounded by too many yes-men to keep a handle on the material, while according to Frankenheimer’s own memoir, his struggles with alcoholism proved highly distracting.
Yet while “Prophecy” is a little out of control, it’s never dull, and its heady mixture of social and environmental commentary mixed with B-movie thrills is memorably special as a result.