Film: The Prophecy

"Did you ever notice how, in The Bible, whenever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?"
Thomas Daggett

The Prophecy is a series of Religious Horror films released in The Nineties. The series was created and the first film written and directed by Gregory Widen (who also created Highlander).

The first film, The Prophecy (released in 1995), tells the story of the Archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken), who's angry that God loves humans (or "talking monkeys," as Gabriel likes to call them) more than angels. Gabriel comes to Earth in search of the evil soul of Colonel Hawthorne, a deceased Korean War veteran, in order to gain an advantage in a war being fought in Heaven. Another angel, Simon (Eric Stoltz), intercepts Hawthorne's soul and hides it in the body of a young Native American girl named Mary (Moriah Shining Dove Snyder). Now it's up to Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas), a police detective who once aspired to be a priest but lost his faith in God years ago, and Catherine (Virginia Madsen), Mary's schoolteacher, to protect Mary before Gabriel gets to her. Viggo Mortensen co-stars as Lucifer.

In the direct-to-video sequel The Prophecy II (1998), Gabriel is returned to Earth, after being taken down to Hell by Lucifer in the first film. This time around, he tries to prevent the birth of a Nephilim (the offspring of a human woman and an angel) who is prophesied to finally bring the War in Heaven to an end. The Nephilim in question has just been conceived by the angel Danyael (Russel Wong) and hospital nurse Valerie Rosales (Jennifer Beals). Gabriel enlists the aid of a teenage girl named Izzy (Brittany Murphy), whom he resurrects after she commits suicide. Everything comes to a head in the dilapidated Garden of Eden when Gabriel kills Danyael in battle, only to be defeated by Valerie and turned human by the Archangel Michael (Eric Roberts).

The third film (and the last one to star Christopher Walken), The Prophecy III: The Ascent (2000), is set about twenty years after the second. Danyael Rosales (Dave Buzzotta), the Nephilim conceived by Danyael and Valerie in the second film, is preaching to a crowd about how God doesn't exist when he is shot dead by a blind attendee (played by Brad Dourif), only to later come back to life. Danyael then learns of his true heritage and his destiny to end the War in Heaven, and sets out to stop Pyriel (Scott Cleverdon), the Angel of Genocide. He is aided in his mission by a reformed Gabriel (now acting as The Obi-Wan) while being hunted by Zophael (Vincent Spano), an angel who takes Danyael's girlfriend Maggie (Karyn Ann Butler) captive and deceives her into thinking that Danyael came back wrong.

There were two additional sequels, The Prophecy: Uprising and The Prophecy: Forsaken, that were both released in 2005.

If you were looking for the eco-horror film, see Prophecy.

This series contains examples of:

  • Allergic to Evil: When Lucifer grabs Thomas, Thomas freezes in place, then quickly begins gasping and reacting like he's going to vomit. Then again, it is the Devil touching him...
  • Animal Motifs: Birds in the first film. For example, Gabriel perches on a bench and looks exactly like a bird in silhouette. Lucifer explodes into crows when departing early in the second film. Gabriel explodes into doves when departing at the end of the third film.
  • Answers to the Name of God: When Catherine sees Lucifer, she says "Oh my God," to which he responds "God? God is love. I don't love you."
    • Blatant Lies: Of course, he later claims to Thomas that he loves him more than Jesus.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Thomas asks Gabriel why he just doesn't ask God about His actions. This is the one time Gabriel isn't snarky or hostile.
    Gabriel: Because He doesn't talk to me anymore.
  • And I Must Scream: The angels that are impaled on giant spikes, spears and other war implements, left out in the sun, in the fields of Heaven; trapped withering and decaying, unable to exit their physical forms; forever screaming and dying under the sun. Thomas and Catherine are unlucky enough to see this.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Gabriel at the end of The Ascent.
  • Back from the Dead: Danyael
  • Badass Boast:
    Gabriel: (to Catherine) 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 'til kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your never understanding why.
    • Also:
      Gabriel: In Heaven, we believe in love.
      Catherine: What do you love, Gabriel?
      Gabriel: Cracking your skull.
    • And:
      Lucifer: Hello, Catherine. We must talk.
      Catherine: I can't do this.
      Lucifer: I can lay you out and fill your mouth with your mother's feces...or we can talk.
  • Badass Longcoat: Gabriel, Zophael and technically every single angel, including extras.
  • Beard of Evil: Lucifer has a mightily impressive one.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted in many instances, especially with the angels. Simon suffers from third-degree burns at the hands of Gabriel; Uziel, the angel who is sent after Simon gets mutilated and so forth. The angels who fight against Danyael and Rafayel have faces covered in a series of nasty scars, which get reopened when they fight Danyael and Rafayel. The movies point out that, during the War, many angels had their faces and bodies destroyed at the hands of their fellow angels.
  • Better The Devil You Know: Literally played straight in the first film, as former novice priest Thomas chooses to help the actual Devil instead of Gabriel. It's made more bearable for him since he knows Gabriel is trying to take over Heaven and Lucifer is just trying to keep things pretty much the same.
  • Big Bad: Gabriel in the first and second films, Pyriel in The Ascent.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the second film, Danyael crashes into Valerie's bedroom in time to save her from Gabriel.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: All angels have this. To be more precise, the vessels they inhabit have no eyes at all. No optical pores and nerves. Nada. In fact, the eyes we do see are manifested by the angels. Whenever an angel is slain, they close their eyes and reopen them to show that they're empty black sockets.
  • Blade on a Stick: Zophael's staff weapon.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The movies treat "nephilim" as a singular. In reality, it is the plural form of Hebrew naphil (a fallen one/giant).
  • Blue and Orange Morality: God, in the "God works In Mysterious Ways" variety.
  • Body Horror: Aside from the Black Eyes of Evil, we get to see up-close at Simon's chest when Uziel attempts to claw out his heart. And then there's the part where Uziel gets mangled by a speeding car. And then we have Simon getting burnt alive by Gabriel. Oh, and there's the heart removal scenes. And the scarred angel fighting against Rafayel getting his chest sliced opened. It goes on and on.
  • Break the Haughty: Gabriel's character arc revolves around this trope.
  • Call Back: Mary (the little Indian girl from the first film) shows up in The Ascent to give Danyael a stone that helps him defeat Pyriel once and for all.
  • Car Fu: Uziel and Gabriel are on the receiving ends in the first film.
    • Also how Gabriel saves Danyael from Zophael at one point in The Ascent.
  • Character Development: Gabriel goes from hating humans to liking and helping them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Zophael's fighting staff.
  • The Chosen One: Danyael in The Ascent.
  • Cool Old Guy: Gabriel in The Ascent.
  • Crapsack World: Because of the eternal stalemate of the Second Angel War between the loyal and rebel factions of angels, no soul can make its way to Heaven to meet God and their ultimate fate. Hell is always open and Lucifer has no problem with souls taking refuge there.
    • Rebel angels, like Gabriel, have no qualms with resurrecting or keeping dying humans from passing on and using them as pawns to do their dirty work. Even loyal angels like Simon are rather sociopathic.
    • Prophets of God, like Thomas, are given visions of the First and Second Angel War, and how horrific they are. These maddening visions drive people insane. It's also what resulted in Thomas giving up on his call to be a priest.
    • Particularly vicious souls, like that of Colonel Hawthorne, are sought out by rebel angels to fight for them. To keep this darkest of human souls out of Gabriel's possession, Simon removes it from Colonel Hawthorne's body and implants it into a young girl.
    • Eden looks like an industrial hellhole, with industrial furnaces and smokestacks filling the skies with miasma. The Tree of Life and Knowledge itself looks withered and rather sad.
    • Angels wear black or dark clothing. No stereotypical white raiments of purity and all of that jazz.
    • The true forms of angels, outside of the Winged Humanoid forms that we see, are awful to behold. We don't get to see Danyael's true form when he reveals himself to Valerie, but we get the feeling from her reaction that it's not something humans would want to see. Judging from the Zealot's reaction when he sees Pyriel's form, it's not only horrific and maddening but, for some, it causes spiritual ecstasy.
  • Creepy Crows: As he leaves the Navajo lodge, Lucifer explodes into a murder of crows.
  • Crisis of Faith: The running theme of the first film. Not only with Thomas, but all of the rebelling angels. Simon tells Gabriel, "Sometimes you have to just do what you're told."
    Thomas: (last lines) And in the end, I think it must be about faith, and if faith is a choice, then it can be lost—for a man, an angel, or the Devil himself. And if faith means never completely understanding God's plan, then maybe understanding just a part of it—our part—is what it is to have a soul. And maybe in the end, that's what being human is, after all.
  • Damsel in Distress: Mary in the first film, Valerie in the second, Maggie in The Ascent.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gabriel, Lucifer, Zophael.
    • Also Gabriel's male human lackey Jerry from the first film, who has all the film's Funny Moments. For instance, when Gabriel asks him, "If you were a soul, where would you hide?," he says, "The hell away from you?"
  • Deal with the Devil: Lucifer makes one with Catherine, although it's a slight inversion as there are literally no strings attached; he just doesn't want Gabriel to succeed.
    Lucifer: You see, I'm not here to help you or the little bitch because I love you or because I care for you, but because two Hells is one Hell too many, and I can't have that. What I'm offering you is a chance not only to save Mary, but to finally open Heaven to your kind. What do you say?
    • Lucifer may have been lying, however, since Rachel says that she saw a light while she was dying.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Simon in the first film.
  • Determinator: Gabriel in the first and second movies, Zophael in The Ascent.
  • The Dragon: Zophael in The Ascent.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jerry. Unfortunately, Gabriel postponed it.
  • Dynamic Entry: Uziel LEAPS up five stories into Simon's apartment, through the window, to fight him. Simon, using his super sense of smell, picks up on Uziel and leaps at the window to meet him.
    • Danyael and Rafayel both do the same thing in The Prophecy II, smelling out other angels who have arrived and leap into battle to fight their enemies.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the second movie:
    Rafayel: (after Gabriel has snapped his spine in half) Why couldn't you stay in the basement, Gabriel?
    Gabriel: This is my war. YOU Should of stayed out of it. The friend of my enemy, is my enemy.
    Rafayel: How many worlds have to burn before you're satisfied?
    Gabriel: Just one. This one.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Inverted with Lucifer. Viggo Mortensen speaks in a slightly higher pitch than normal and it's very creepy.
  • Eye Scream: Simon sticks his sharpened thumbnails into Uziel's empty eye sockets before throwing him five stories down into an alleyway, where he is crushed into a wall by a speeding car.
    • In the third film, Pyriel attempts to do the same thing to Danyael when they're fighting for the fate of the world. Of course, he's doing it at the same time he's trying to crush Danyael's head.
  • Famous Last Words: The cheerful comment from one of Gabriel's unwillingly-revived henchmen, to the guy who has just re-killed him: "Thanks, pal, you're a sport!"
  • Fantastic Racism: "I will NOT. ALLOW. ANY. TALKING MONKEY! To take my place!"
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Humans not being able to go to Heaven (because of the war going on among the angels) after they die could count. Not to mention Gabriel makes it clear that his henchmen are just "dying slower." Despite their mobility, they're probably still suffering from whatever was killing them in the first place.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Gabriel in the first two films. And Lucifer is rather polite to Thomas and Catherine when they first meet him, even if he does briefly threaten them (Catherine) or speak in a sing-song tone (Thomas). At their final confrontation, however, he drops the act and you're reminded that this is the Devil.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Because of the War between the loyal angels and Gabriel's rebels, Heaven was sealed off. This means Gabriel can't do anything until he gets Hawthorne's soul, but it also keeps God from being able to influence the course of events.
  • God Is Dead: A bystander yells this in The Ascent, prompting Gabriel to shove him.
  • God Is Good: The Big Guy really cares about His precious "monkeys."
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Gabriel in the first film, of all people. "Watch the profanity!"
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Danyael Rosales in The Ascent.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Gabriel
  • Heel-Faith Turn: Thomas Daggett
  • Herald: Gabriel in The Ascent.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Zophael in The Ascent.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Thomas, until his Heel-Faith Turn. And Danyael Rosales in The Ascent.
    • Thomas might not count, as he says himself "Some people lose their faith because God never shows them anything," which would be the standard definition of the trope, but he finishes the thought by saying "I lost mine because God showed me too much."
  • Humanity Ensues: Gabriel. But he gets better at the end of The Ascent.
  • Humans Are Bastards: More than any angel.
  • Humans Are Special: A good number of angels are pissed God gave "talking monkeys" a soul.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: In order to fuel their immense strength and regenerative powers, angels and Nephilim both have to consume massive amounts of sugars, carbohydrates and proteins. This is very prevalent in The Ascent. After coming back from the dead, Danyael ends up scarfing down a bag of a dozen mixed donuts. Zophael, the angel pursuing Danyael, notes that "Spontaneous tissue regeneration tends to do that." He and Gabriel both show an inclination for donuts with sprinkles on them.
    Gabriel I'll start off with coffee, fresh brew, sweet and low, no dairy creamer, small grapefruit juice, three eggs, yolks firm not hard, a bacon crisp, hash brown, dry wheat toast with a side portion of your famous blackberry jam.
    • The above quote is what Gabriel considers to be an starter meal before he has to go out and help Danyael. Just imagine what else he probably ate afterwards.
    • In various apocryphal texts that deal with the Nephilim, it is stated that they have massive appetites. Nephilim, like Hiwa and Hiya, were said to have consumed huge amounts of meat and other sacrificial foods given to them because their mighty feats of strength and all the people they killed was taxing. It got to the point that the twin Nephilim eventually turned to cannibalism, eating humans, other Nephilim and even angels to fuel their bodies.
  • I Never Told You My Name: When questioned how he knew Thomas's name, Gabriel dismissively tells him "You look like a Thomas."
    • He does the same thing to a waitress, who looks down to see if she has a name tag. She doesn't.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Colonel Hawthorne.
    • In a manner of speaking, Lucifer. Angels may not be human, but Lucifer has no problem eating a chunk out of Gabriel's heart after he forcefully and slowly extracts it from his body. He really seems to enjoy himself after taking a bite and smearing blood all over his mouth.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Danyael Rosales. He has the misfortune of having to manually remove Zophael's blade weapon, by pulling it through his chest from the front.
    • Zophael himself was pinned to a wall like a captured fly to a pinboard, during the fight between him and Danyael inside of the street church the latter once ran. It was an unexpected moment in the fight when Danyael hurled him dozens of feet off the ground and nailed him in the shoulder with a metal pipe.
    • Danyael Sr., Danyael Rosales' father, was impaled onto a bedpost during his fight with Gabriel before breaking off the bedpost and removing it from his body.
    • Later on in The Prophecy II, we see Gabriel get impaled on a metal post in Eden. This allowed for Michael to render him mortal.
    • In the first Prophecy, we get a glimpse of the fields of Heaven, littered with the bodies of still-living angels impaled on giant spikes and other implements of wars, like spears and banners.
  • In-Joke: There are multiple religious in-jokes with varying levels of subtlety. When Simon is told that the girl he's about to hid Hawthorne's soul inside is named "Mary," he whispers "Of course." Then you have slightly less-obvious ones like Thomas, the priest who lost his faith being named after the Apostle who didn't believe Jesus had come back to life, or how in The Bible, Gabriel had the power to make people fall down in shock with his mere presence and also helped the prophet Daniel with his apocalyptic visions.
    • There's the bit in which Gabriel tells Izzy, once they arrive outside of Eden, not to eat the Apple from the Tree hanging out near the gates into Eden.
      Gabriel: DON'T EAT THAT. (Izzy stops) Trust me.
    • Then, earlier in the movie, we have Gabriel telling this to Izzy:
      Gabriel: Let's understand each other. I sang the first hymn when the stars were born. Not too long ago, I told a certain someone, Mary, just who it was that she was expecting. On the other hand, (grips Izzy's hand, which begins to burn slowly and painfully) I've turned rivers into blood, kings into cripples. So I don't think I have to explain myself to you.
  • Insult Backfire: Combined with Call Back in Thomas and Lucifer's final face-off:
    Thomas: I have my soul, and I have my faith. What do you have...angel?
    Lucifer: ...Leave the light on, Thomas.
  • Interspecies Romance: Valerie/Danyael (human/angel) in The Prophecy II, Danyael Rosales/Maggie (Nephilim/human) in The Ascent.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Gabriel kills Simon in the first film and Thomas Daggett in the second film.
  • Kirk Summation: Gabriel gets one of these in both the first and second films.
  • Light Is Not Good: Gabriel in the first two films (until his Heel-Face Turn in The Ascent), Pyriel in The Ascent.
  • Made of Iron: There really isn't a whole lot that can harm an angel, merely slow them down and inconvenience them. Getting shot repeatedly and blown-up tend to do that much. Getting shot in the chest, especially near the heart or directly in the heart, will stagger them. Justified, seeing as how heart removal will kill them.
    • It took being shot multiple times, hit with an explosion, being thrown headfirst through a truck, pummeled repeatedly with a tire iron by an angry cop, being struck and knocked off by a truck crashing through a building, pummeled again repeatedly and then shot a couple more times before Gabriel was staggered and injured enough for Lucifer to finish him off.
    • Simon literally had to shove Uziel off of him and then slam him into a wall before smashing his neck onto a windowsill covered in broken glass before gouging his eye sockets and throwing him back down five stories, before letting a speeding car smashing him into a wall, and crush his spine and pop his heart out of his chest.
  • Magical Native American: Touched on in the first film.
    • Subverted in that they're no more and no less magical than the Christian mythology in the film.
  • Man in White: Pyriel
  • Mordor: What Eden has become. A massive sprawling industrial complex with towering, monolithic smokestacks burning away into the night sky and massive fuel reserves, where Michael and his retinue of angel loyalists dwell.
    Valerie Rosales: (upon arriving in Eden and catching a mind-blowing vista of Eden) THIS is Eden?
    Danyael: What Man has made of it.
  • Mythology Gag: An actual mythological gag involving Gabriel's trumpet in the first film.
  • Nay-Theist: Gabriel and the rebelling angels.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Mary makes some...interesting drawings while Colonel Hawthorne's inside her.
  • Not So Different: The Archangel Michael points out to Gabriel in the second film that he (Gabriel) and Lucifer have a lot in common.
  • Not Using the G Word: Gabriel never actually says "God" when speaking of his estranged boss in conversation.
  • The Obi-Wan: Gabriel in The Ascent.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Pyriel in The Ascent.
    "Genocide—it happens now and then."
  • One-Man Army: What the angels are supposed to be. However, being on Earth makes them mortal, meaning that they can be killed. It just takes a lot of damn effort to do so. In The Prophecy, Gabriel had no problem overwhelming armed police officers who were hauling him off, despite having suffered gunshot wounds and being hit with an explosion.
  • One to Million to One: Gabriel sometimes teleports this way, as when a shot from a gun turns him temporarily into a murder of crows.
  • One-Winged Angel: Implied in the first film.
  • Our Angels Are Different: And how! No robe-wearing harpists here; even Simon, the nicest angel in the series, thinks nothing of sticking a genocidal madman's soul into a little girl.
    Thomas: Did you ever notice how in the Bible, whenever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?
    • Aside from being Winged Humanoids, angels have Super Strength, Super Speed, Made of Iron, Healing Factor, Super Senses and Hyperactive Metabolism. The bodies that they manifest on Earth lack eyes much less any optical nerves, their blood composition is that of an aborted fetus, and their bones lack any indicators of growth. They're also hermaphrodites as well. (To quote Aziraphale from Good Omens, angels are otherwise sexless unless they really make the effort, which would mean that Danyael Sr., Danyael Rosales' father, had to make some effort to be of one sex, in order to impregnate Valerie. FUN!)
    • In order to destroy an angel, you have to remove his heart. (It's possible that decapitation could work, or massive tissue damage up to and including vaporizing the body, but we never see those methods used.) They also have an uncanny sense of balance, letting them perch anywhere without discomfort much less any issues with falling, and their fingernails are black and sharp, much like bird claws. They also have a penchant for wearing longcoats and dusters, which are used to conceal their wings, which are visible in their shadows whenever they leap from high places to low places.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The amount of blood shed in the fight between Uziel and Simon is ridiculous. Even Thomas' fellow police officer Barrows makes note of this.
    Thomas: Anything interesting inside?
    Barrows: Well, there are what an experienced detective, like yourself, could possibly construe as signs of a struggle. (opens the door into Simon's apartment, revealing the wall, floor, and broken furniture caked in blood and gore)
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Lucifer is far more calculating here than in his usual For the Evulz depictions. He's only doing it to make sure the balance of (evil) power doesn't shift elsewhere, and is completely honest about that.
    • That's not to say he won't try to get a few more souls into Hell, like Catherine's.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Catherine: YOU! CAN'T! HAVE HER!
    • And:
    Gabriel: I will NOT! ALLOW! ANY! Talking take my place!