Posted: 3/28/01

The Prophecy (1995)
by Del Harvey

Gabriel: "I'm an angel. I kill newborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. And occasionally, when I feel like it, I tear little girls apart. And from now 'til kingdom come... the only thing you can count on... in your existence... is never understanding why."

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We are all monkeys put on the earth to do God's bidding, and we do a damned poor job of it. At least that is the inference in the 1995 film The Prophecy, written and directed by Gregory Widen (The Highlander) and starring Christopher Walken as Gabriel, the most evil angel to ever be de-sexed or wear wings. (Didn't you wonder what makes them so "angelic"?) Gabriel has started a new war in heaven, and he's visiting Earth to find the spirit of the most evil man in recent history, a true killer skilled in the art of war, to play the ultimate of ironies upon God. For you see, Gabriel is one of many angels who feels betrayed by Him, because He pays more attention and shows more pity to the pathetic little monkeys scrabbling around this miserable little planet than he does his own soldier-servants. Okay, so I'm paraphrasing Gabriel somewhat here. The problem is, as long as there is a war in Heaven, no souls may go there or even to Hell. Aye, there's the rub!

Unfortunately for Gabe, another angel, Simon (Eric Stoltz, Mask, Pulp Fiction, Fluke) has beaten Gabriel to the punch by finding that evil spirit and claiming it. But not before one of Gabriel's minions can inflict a mortal wound upon him. And he, in turn, passes the evil spirit along to a young Indian girl just before he dies. Gabriel tracks Simon down, figures out what happened, and decides to hang around a while, until he can determine which child may have become the unwilling caretaker for this spirit. The teacher, Katherine (Virginia Madsen, The Hot Spot, The Rainmaker) knows there's something up, and reluctantly sides with a New York cop named Thomas who is a conflicted former priest, and who has recently appeared at her door looking first for Simon, then trying to be her protector against Gabriel.

The Prophecy tries very hard to live up to a budget it does not have. And, in many ways, it succeeds. The special effects are few but quite fitting, and more important, effective. What is lacking in lighting and sound quality is more than made up for in both special effects and acting. The score is subtle and somewhat undistinguished, and the cinematography is a bit murky at times. There were few elements that were distracting enough to lessen the overall experience, especially knowing the limitations the filmmakers were working under.

The story and the pace keep moving along fairly well with few plot holes. Oh, there are a couple, but this is a tongue-in-cheek horror film based upon an old religious tale. The humor is delivered deadpan by Walken's invigorating characterization and the writer's flair for wedding the absurd with the macabre. And Gabriel gets some very nice lines. He also finds mortals who are in the process of dying and captures their souls, keeping them alive just long enough to do his dirty work. First is Jerry (Adam Goldberg, Saving Private Ryan), whose stench and rapid deterioration soon make him a liability to Gabriel. At one point Gabriel asks Jerry: "If you were a soul, where would you hide?" And his unwilling servant responds, "The Hell away from you!" Jerry is not around much after that. His replacement is Rachael (Amanda Plummer, American Perfekt, Pulp Fiction, The Fisher King), a suicidal whom Gabriel captures just before she "expires." His dialogue with her begins with:

Gabriel: "Let's get crackin', Rachel."

Rachel: "No."

Gabriel: "Eternity, here, in that sagging skin suit. Or, one more day with me."

Rachel: "Why?"

Gabriel: "I can't drive. But I can wait. Until the stars burn out, if need be, for you to make up your mind."

Walken solidifies his right as heir to the throne as our very best villain. And The Prophecy is pure camp fun. Check it out.

Del Harvey, founder of FM, lives in Chicago. He is a veteran of The Directors Guild Of America, The Walt Disney Company, and Lucasfilm.

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