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Prophecy, The (Blu-ray)

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The Prophecy Blu-rayStarring Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen, Viggo Mortensen

Directed by Gregory Widen

Distributed by Echo Bridge Entertainment


”I’m an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why.”

No one delivers a line like Christopher Walken, and his portrayal of archangel Gabriel in 1995’s The Prophecy ranks among his all-time best performances. Every move is tinged with menace, his dialogue barbed with so much pent-up frustration that watching him immediately sets the viewer on edge (however playfully). Whether he’s sitting with a flock of children or slyly accosting our protagonist in a church pew, Gabriel seethes with anger and disdain for God’s “children”, his view being that the Lord loves these “talking monkeys” much more than the angels, and that’s the catalyst for an ongoing war in heaven that’s raged for centuries.

Into this mix falls a faithless detective (and would’ve been priest), Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas), who stumbles across the aftermath of a messy angelic battle that left behind an otherworldly corpse. Daggett is drawn slowly into this struggle which also involves a school teacher (Virginia Madsen), a heroic angel (Eric Stoltz), an innocent little girl and the hunt for the blackest soul to ever infect a human vessel. It becomes a race against time to stop Gabriel from reaching his apocalyptic goal, leaving our human protagonists to contend with the seemingly impossible task of defeating one of God’s Army (the film’s original title).

The Prophecy is a forgotten slice of mid-1990s horror from writer/director Gregory Widen, and it often feels like a relic from a bygone era. It’s an adult-oriented thriller that doesn’t pander to its viewers or strive for the obnoxious teen audience that Hollywood has become obsessed with luring into cinemas every weekend. Instead, it offers a creative premise that packs so much mythology into 97 minutes that its biggest criticism is that it often feels a tad rushed. All three acts might’ve benefited from a better meld of character and exposition as Widen has a tendency to gloss over rather large chunks of important plot in mere passing. The goal of our antagonist is clear, but some of the “rules” for earthbound angels are not: We can deduce why these heavenly killers need human “slaves”, but it’s an intriguing idea that might’ve been explored with a bit more depth.

But Widen’s story works. It’s understandable for some to have skepticism for a movie so heavily anchored in religious mythology, but The Prophecy is never preachy. It works as a full-on fantasy or, should one be so inclined, as an incredibly fun Biblical ‘what if’. Either way, the dialogue is great (nearly every line that passes Walken’s lips is quotable), characters are compelling (Daggett’s question of faith makes him a flawed but compelling hero) and performances are stellar (is there a better screen Lucifer than Viggo Mortensen?). These elements gel together so perfectly that it’s hard to understand why this never caught on in theaters in the fall of 1995. Gregory Widen wrote the original Highlander nearly ten years before directing this. Considering his proclivity for creating vast and compelling mythologies, it’s a shame he hasn’t written or directed anything since.

It’s true that The Prophecy has its flaws and that the scope of its story is perhaps beyond the allotted budget. But damn if it doesn’t hold up as one of the best examples of genre filmmaking in the 1990s. Smart, entertaining and with an all-star cast of incredibly talented people, it’s a film worthy of rediscovery.

Being such a fan of The Prophecy, my fingers were crossed when I heard Echo Bridge was sending this disc my way. My old DVD is a non-anamorphic eyesore (almost unwatchable by today’s standards) so nearly any improvement would be welcome. Unfortunately, the improvement in visual quality is a marginal one. The transfer is correctly displayed in 2.35:1 (despite the fact that the back of the box claims 1.78:1), but it’s a largely bland transfer that looks less like high definition and more like a DVD upconvert. There’s just not much depth here, and details fall incredibly flat. The image is certainly more stable than Dimension’s old DVD (and it’s anamorphic to boot – so no more windowboxed viewings!), but this doesn’t often look or feel like HD. Colors are weak, and blacks are grey. If this were DVD, I’d be a little more forgiving of this title as this really is the only decent home video presentation of The Prophecy. But as a Blu-ray this is far from a success.

The audio fares better. The English 5.1 DTS track has nice channel separation with music sounding fairly textured (especially the ethereal church music) and dialogue remaining clear (if a bit soft) at all times. The bass is active during action sequences although it doesn’t receive much of a workout overall. Technically speaking, Echo Bridge outfits The Prophecy with a solid audio presentation. It’s just a shame the video couldn’t have matched.

My prayers for a special edition continue to go unanswered as there are no extras to be found, a shame considering some bootleg cuts offer an alternate opening and other cut material. This means we’re judging this product on the quality of the film (quite high) and the A/V of the disc (good to fair). If you’re like me and the lack of an anamorphic version of this film has eaten away at you for years, then rejoice! Those strictly looking to upgrade to a high quality Blu-ray may want to give this one a rent before taking the purchase plunge, however. I wish this disc looked better, Echo Bridge. This is one film that truly deserves the royal treatment.

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4 out of 5

Special Features

0 out of 5

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
3.5

Summary

Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto


I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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