The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Prophecy: Uprising (2005)
Our friend Johnny Sullivan (Twitter @johnnyblackout ), a screenwriter who wrote the great Stone Cold Steve Austin actioner Recoil, mentioned that before that, he wrote two Prophecy sequels, this one and Forsaken. He also mentioned that his original scripts were rewritten quite a bit, but that I should give the movies a look. Considering how great Recoil was, and how gracious he was after I watched it in answering my questions about the process of making it-- and the fact that all five Prophecy films are currently on Instant--, all made this a no brainer. Oh, and Kari Wuher in it didn't hurt either.
The Prophecy: Uprising is about a British detective of Romanian descent working in Bucharest. He has a lot of personal demons he's trying to atone for, in particular a brutal mistake he made as a youth that he really couldn't be blamed for. Anyway, a mysterious man claiming to be an Interpol agent approaches him for help solving a case. At the same time Kari Wuher, living and working in an Orthodox church in the city, discovers the priest she works for dead on the floor of the basement, and a voice in her head (Jason London) telling her to pick up his massive bible. Now she's fleeing from a rogue demon that wants the book, and our hero's Interpol agent is recruiting our hero to help her protect it before the bad demon can get it-- but can he trust the Interpol agent?
This is a fun DTV horror/suspense thriller. It's compact, with the listed 88 minute runtime actually a good amount shorter with the credits taken out, and none of that time is wasted. This is a reboot of the Prophecy franchise, and as such could've been full of onerous plot exposition to introduce us to the new storyline, but fortunately that doesn't happen. I think when we see a DTV sequel of an established theatrical property, we hope for something like this: quick moving, not full of itself, but also not devoid of substance. This story, while trim and lean, still had great moments, especially the plot twist at the end that I really liked. This is the kind of 3AM insomnia burner that you see on the guidebar and find yourself still up at 5 (with commercials) finishing it off, thinking of the Tweet or Facebook status update about how little sleep you got last night that you're about to fire off.
It was great to be able to converse with Johnny via e-mail about this film. I don't want to tell you too much about his original story, because it will give away this film, but he said he had written the script initially as a project that had nothing to do with the Prophecy. Then he went to Dimension films after selling another script to Sony (which wasn't produced), and they asked him to work on The Prophecy reboot, which was one of many projects they had control over at that time, but needed to be rebooted because they couldn't get Christopher Walken anymore (he also pointed out that this was before the term "reboot" was en vogue). He pitched that original script, and they loved it, he just needed to amend it to a DTV sequel scale. He wrote both Uprising and Forsaken, and sold them both to Dimension. From there though, director Joel Soisson rewrote them to his own vision. What was interesting for me was how cohesive and consistent it felt despite having two writers, because often that's the death knell for a movie, too many cooks in the kitchen. He said that, while it was heavily rewritten, the key elements-- especially the plot twist I liked, and the main thread about the bible, were his, which is probably why it still worked. I will say though, between the two, Recoil, which was completely Johnny's movie and wasn't rewritten, was the better film; but to some degree comparing them is like apples and oranges.
Kari Wuher might have been one of my first celebrity crushes, back when she was on Remote Control in the late 80s. I also remember that that was the first non-music video show on MTV. Man, did that open the floodgates, here I am 25 years later watching Catfish while typing this review. Videos? You watch those on YouTube now, I watch MTV for Catfish. Anyway, so you know, I go into seeing Kari Wuher in a film with that imprint on my brain from that many years ago. But I think too, her character works as someone you genuinely want to root for, whether you had a crush on her as far back as 1988 or not, and that makes everything else in the film work that much better.
We've done over 900 movies here at the DTVC in over 6 years, and we still find things that we haven't see before. John Light provides that moment for us here. He looks like a Poor Man's Dane Cook, right? Yet, as a Poor Man's, he's better than the original! I've never seen the Poor Man's version be better than the original before. I understand, when we're talking about Dane Cook, being better isn't hard, but still, a first is a first, and we have to acknowledge it.
I don't know if you know, but this movie was shot in Romania. It's well established, with a lot of establishing shots. They weren't like artistic Ozu establishing shots though, there was a lot of time elapsed film and whatnot. I think the most egregious case of the overused establishing shots was Fast Five, where it was like "Hey, we're in Rio!" "Did you know this film takes place in Rio?" "Oh, by the way, Rio!" "Hey, Rio!" I think in The Prophecy: Uprising though, with this type of film, it worked. It evoked that imagery we already have of Romania and Transylvania in a horror film, plus the old Orthodox churches and gave us that supernatural mystical version of Christianity that we need for a movie like this to work. So, as gratuitous as the establishing shots might have seemed, I think they worked in adding to the atmosphere.
Especially while this film is available on Instant, it's worth a look, but if you see it for rent or on TV, I'd check it out too. It's a fun, 90-minute, DTV supernatural-suspense thriller. This is what we come to DTV for, to be entertained for an hour-and-a-half, and The Prophecy: Uprising does that. Also, thank you again to Johnny Sullivan for taking the time to talk with me about this and about his role in making the film. I really appreciate it.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365658/