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Film / The Prophecy

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"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 '90s. 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.


Followed by The Prophecy II (1998) and The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000). 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:

  • Animal Motifs: Birds are used to symbolize the angels. 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. Pyriel actually lunges at Danyael like a bird of prey. Gabriel explodes into doves when departing at the end of the third film.
  • 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.
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  • Angelic Beauty: Zigzagged by the different angels. Gabriel is played by the gaunt-looking Christopher Walken, Lucifer is played by an attractive-but-still-scary Viggo Mortensen, Michael is played by leading man Eric Roberts, and Pyriel is an outright Pretty Boy (interestingly, also the most evil of those four). Danyael is good-looking enough to get a human woman to fall in love with him, passing his looks on to his hybrid son.
  • Angels in Overcoats: Eric Stoltz's Simon, in particular, wears the standard issue heavy-wool version. Evil angel Gabriel (Christopher, ehm... Walken) wears a lighter coat, though it still fits the trope.
  • Anyone Can Die: Almost every main or recurring character in the series will die, whether by Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome unless they’re Gabriel, with a few exceptions.
  • Badass Longcoat: Gabriel, Zophael and technically every single angel, including extras.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Gabriel in the first and second films, Pyriel in The Ascent.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: All angels have this. 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.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The movies treat "Nephilim" as a singular. In reality, it is the plural form of Hebrew naphil (a fallen one/giant). That said, most pieces of fiction that use nephilim make the same mistake.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: God, in the "God works In Mysterious Ways" variety.
  • Break the Haughty: Gabriel's character arc revolves around this trope.
  • Character Development: Gabriel goes from hating humans to liking and helping them. In fact, it's strongly indicated God hasn't stopped talking; Gabriel just hasn't been able to hear him. Where he once declared "Noone hears the word anymore!" in the third film, Gabriel says that in the end there's still the word.
  • Characterizing Sitting Pose: All angels tend to sit like perching birds, implying the presence of their wings even though they are usually not seen in their winged forms. This is particularly noticeable in The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, with the angel Gabriel, who had been turned human and thus stopped perching, regains his angelic nature in the end and is last seen sitting perched on an overturned car.
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • Determinator: Gabriel in the first and second movies, Zophael in The Ascent.
  • Fantastic Racism: "I will NOT. ALLOW. ANY. TALKING MONKEY! To take my place!"
  • Fate Worse than Death: Humans are not able to go to Heaven (because of the war going on among the angels) after they die. Gabriel also 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.
    Gabriel: Eternity. Here. In that sagging skin suit. Or, one more day with me.
    Rachael: *sniffling* Why?
    Gabriel: Can't drive. But...I can wait. Until the stars burn out, for you to make up your mind.
  • 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 Good: The Big Guy really cares about His precious "monkeys."
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gabriel
  • 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: Lucifer explains it in the first movie.
    Lucifer: Humans - and how I love you talking monkeys for this - know more about war and treachery of the spirit than any angel.
  • Humans Are Special: A good number of angels are pissed God gave those "talking monkeys" a soul.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Lucifer finds the irony delicious that, for all their supernatural power, angels actually know much less about "war and treachery of the spirit" than humans, which is what makes the soul of Col. Hawthorne - an insane, sadistic war criminal - a potentially war-winning weapon for Gabriel's side in Heaven.
  • 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. Zophiel, 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 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: A Running Gag with Gabriel, leading to him saying, "Well, you look like an X." With waitress Madge, she looks to see if she has a name tag. She doesn't.
  • In-Joke:
    • There are multiple religious in-jokes with varying levels of subtlety. When Simon is told that the girl he's about to hide 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.
    • In the first film, Gabriel tries checking all the school kids to see if he can find if they've had Hawthorne's soul stuffed into them. As part of doing so he lets a couple of them blow on a horn he has, (Gabriel blowing his horn is supposed to be the sign of the end of the world) but cautions to do so very carefully, and just a little bit at a time.
  • 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.
  • Kubrick Stare: Quite unsettling to see on a little girl like Mary.
  • Light Is Not Good: Gabriel in the first two films (until his Heel–Face Turn in The Ascent) and his legion of Anti-Human Angels, 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.
  • Nay-Theist: Gabriel and the rebelling angels.
  • Not Using the G Word: Gabriel never actually says "God" when speaking of his estranged boss in conversation. He and other angels just refer to Him as "the boss". Thomas breaks the ice when asking Gabriel why he won't bring his frustrations up to God.
  • 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.
  • Our Angels Are Different: 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. 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. In order to destroy an angel, you have to remove his heart. 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.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Gabriel's war is a temper tantrum against his father for loving humans so much. At one point, Gabriel angrily snarls "No one hears the Word anymore, NO. ONE."
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: The angels have very different ways of investigating things than we humans have.
  • Unwanted Revival: All of Gabriel's revived helpers.

The first movie 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...
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Beard of Evil: Lucifer has a mightily impressive one.
  • 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.
  • Car Fu: Uziel and Gabriel are on the receiving ends in the first film.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Enemy Mine: Lucifer helps the heroes take down Gabriel, not because he wants to, but because he knows Gabriel's Heaven would just become another Hell, and he doesn't want the competition.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gabriel is confounded that Jerry would commit suicide.
  • 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.
  • Fate Worse than Death: When Lucifer tells Thomas and Catherine he wants them to "come home with me", then claims not coming with him will be worse than any fate they could imagine. Neither buy it for a second.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Gabriel in the first film, of all people. "Watch the profanity!" The "profanity" in question, however, is "Goddamn", and considering his Back Story, he himself is damned by God, so It's Personal.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Thomas Daggett
  • 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • Made of Iron:
    • 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.
  • Mythology Gag: An actual mythological gag involving Gabriel's trumpet in the first film.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Mary makes some...interesting drawings while Colonel Hawthorne's inside her.
  • One to Million to One: Lucifer explodes into a murder of crows at the conclusion.
  • One-Winged Angel: Implied in the first film.
  • 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.
    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.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: After saving the little girl's life, schoolteacher Catherine is sporting some streaks of grey in her hair as the result of the trauma, stress and supernatural atrocities she has witnessed.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Catherine: YOU! CAN'T! HAVE HER!
    • And:
    Gabriel: I will NOT! ALLOW! ANY! Talking take my place!
  • Room Full of Crazy: Gabriel's cave, where he wrote all over the walls in Angelic Script.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Simon.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: The soul of Colonel Hawthorne, a racist, genocidal, insane Korean War veteran who tortured and massacred Chinese troops, is hidden inside cute little Mary.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: There's definitely something off about Colonel Hawthorne.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Lucifer briefly commiserates with Thomas about how hard it is to keep one's faith.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Lucifer taunts Thomas about having been this for him.
    Lucifer: Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers. And then you'd jump in your bed, so afraid I was under there. And I was!
  • Took a Level in Badass: As it turns out, putting the soul of a genocidal, cannibalistic colonel inside a little girl makes for an adorable marksman unafraid to face down an angel with a .38 Special.
  • Weakened by the Light: Colonel Hawthorne's soul, once removed from Mary, is destroyed by divine light.
  • We Can Rule Together:
    Gabriel: Tommy, you gotta come work for me. Upstairs. I could get you in now. You'll love it! Nobody tells you when to go to bed! You eat all the ice cream you want! You get to KILL, all DAY! All NIGHT! Just like an ANGEL!!
  • You Owe Me: Lucifer begs Tommy and Catherine to "come home with me", telling Catherine he owes her. She refuses.


Video Example(s):


The Prophecy

Archangel Gabriel, leader of the second rebellion against Heaven and the God who ruled them.

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