Day of The Animals (1977) and Prophecy (1979)

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Day of The Animals (1977) and Prophecy (1979)

The Day of the Animals is a 1977 American horror film thriller directed by William Girdler and based on a story written by Edward L. Montoro. Premiering on May 13, 1977, the movie reunited stars Christopher George and Richard Jaeckel, director Girdler and producer Montoro from the previous year's hit film Grizzly.

A battle for survival begins as a group of mountain hikers in Northern California encounter a chemically imbalanced forest. The recent depletion of the Earth's ozone layer causes the sun to shine powerful ultraviolet light carrying some kind of solar radiation that somehow causes all animals above the altitude of 5,000 feet to run amok and kill, which is very unfortunate for a group of hikers (including Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Leslie Neilsen) who get dropped off up there by helicopter just before a quarantine is announced for all the surrounding towns. This has a dramatic effect on the rest of the nation, turning common household pets and pests into vicious attackers.

Over the course of the movie, multiple wild and dangerous animals stalk and attack the hikers, and eventually start picking them off. These include a Mountain Lion, a Grizzly Bear, a pack of Wolves and several Birds of Prey (Hawks, Falcons, Eagles and Owls).

One of the hikers, Paul Jenson (Leslie Neilsen) goes mad as he is one of the very few humans to be exposed to the solar radiation making all the animals mad, and he eventually attacks the group, killing one of them. he finally takes on a grizzly bear and he gets bitten on the neck and it ends up killing him.

The others manage to get below the 5,000 foot "radiation zone" area until they are trapped by several German Shepherds in an isolated cabin. Two of the hikers are killed by the vicious canines and the last three of the group members escape on a raft in a nearby river. They are rescued the next day as they float down river to a Park Rangers station.

The next day, groups of U.S. Army troops, wearing radiation suits and armed with flame-throwers and various automatic weapons, arrive to secure the areas. By then almost all the animals that went crazy are killed by the very same solar radiation that drove them mad in the first place. This implies that life for humans will return to normal fairly soon. At the end of the movie, a surviving hawk lunges at the screen just before the credits roll.

Prophecy is a 1979 American horror film directed by John Frankenheimer and written by David Seltzer. It stars Robert Foxworth, Talia Shire and Armand Assante.  This is an ecological fable about the evils of industrial pollution.  A novelization of the film, written by Seltzer as well, was also published, with the tagline "A Novel of Unrelenting Terror".

Tracking two lost lumberjacks through the night, a rescue team nearly follows a hound over a cliff. Two men rappel down to retrieve the fallen hound, but they are killed. The third, hearing screams down below, rappels down to investigate, where he finds his team mates dead, killed by an unknown thing. The third is then, killed by an unseen force

Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) is fed up with dealing with the squalor of city tenements. He does not feel he is making a difference. He accepts a job from the Environmental Protection Agency to write a report on a logging operation near the Androscoggin River in Maine. The loggers are in a dispute with the local American Indian "Opies" (i.e., "O.P.s"), the original people.

Dr. Verne's wife Maggie (Talia Shire) accompanies him on the trip. She is pregnant but is apprehensive to tell her husband as he is set against having children. When they fly in, they meet a man, Travis Nelson (Burke Byrnes) and his two children Paul and Kathleen who are embarking on a trek into the wilderness. They also meet Bethel Isely (Richard A. Dysart), the director of the paper mill, who is to be their host. He tells them about his missing rescue team and lays the blame at the feet of the Opies. The latter have their own explanation: Katahdin, a vengeful spirit of the forest that has been awakened by the activities of the loggers. Isely describes Katahdin as "larger than a dragon with the eyes of a cat".

As Isely drives the couple to their cabin, their path is barred by a party of Opies. They refuse to let Isely's people pass and a fight ensues between the leader of the Opies John Hawks (Armand Assante) and Kelso (Everett Creach), one of Isely's heavies. The heavy is armed with a chainsaw while Hawks has only a broadaxe. The scuffle ends with Hawks laid on the ground with the chainsaw at his throat. The Opies relent and let the cars pass. Verne and Maggie are visibly shocked by the incident.

While fishing, Verne sees a huge salmon devour a duck. Later, after he and Maggie have eaten his catch, they are attacked in their cabin by a deranged raccoon. Verne kills it and sends a tissue sample to be tested.

The next day Hawks and his wife Ramona (Victoria Racimo) approach Dr. Verne to put over their side of the story. If Verne is concerned about the environment then he should include the people in his assessment. Something is making the people ill: still births, mental illness and birth defects are rife. Hawks takes Verne and Maggie to the home of Hector M'Rai (George Clutesi), Ramona's grandfather. Hector claims to have seen Katahdin and describes him as "part of everything in God's creation". Verne sees plant roots growing on the surface that should be underground; Hawk nets a bullfrog-sized tadpole from the water to show Verne; Hector has cigarette burns on his hand but feels no pain. As the evidence mounts the idyllic setting gradually takes on a sinister hue.

Verne and Maggie tour the paper mill to look for incriminating evidence but the chemicals used in the processing are demonstrated to never leave the plant. Isely tells them that the water is routinely tested for purity. As they leave, however, Verne notices mercury deposits on Maggie's boots. It is a mutagen that causes birth defects and progressive nerve damage. It has long been used in logging as a fungicide because it is cheap. It will not show up in Isely's water purity tests because it sinks to the bottom. Verne needs more evidence and determines to take blood tests from the Opies.

That night, the Nelson family, who have set up a camp in the woods, are suddenly assaulted by a ferocious monster. The horrified Paul tries to flee, but the beast spanks him into a rock, killing him. The next day as Verne and Maggie are taking blood samples, Isely and Sheriff Bartholomew Pilgrim (Charles H. Gray) arrive to arrest Hawks and his men whom they mistakenly believe to be the ones who killed the Nelson family. Hawks, however, escapes. Verne, Maggie and Ramona take a helicopter to the campsite to investigate the killings. Verne and Ramona find huge scratch marks on the trees while Maggie finds two mutated bear cubs trapped in a salmon poacher's net. One of the cubs is still alive and Verne is determined to save it so it can serve as empirical evidence of the contamination. However, the weather has turned and the pilot, Huntoon (Tom McFadden), refuses to take off in the high wind.

They make for Hector's home and Verne sends Hawks to fetch Isely and the sheriff. Verne sets up an emergency room in one of Hector's tepees and helps the cub survive. Maggie is clearly distressed by the ordeal so Verne takes her aside and assures her that it will all be over soon. She tells him that their nightmare is just beginning: she is pregnant and she has eaten contaminated fish like the mother of the cubs.

Isely and Sheriff Pilgrim arrive and see the mutant cub. Isely is contrite, knowing that Hawks and his men weren't the killers. Hector arrives. Then all hell breaks loose as the horribly mutated bear attacks the camp in search of her cubs. Everyone seeks shelter in tunnels beneath Hector's home. All goes quiet so Pilgrim decides to check it out. He pokes his head up out of the tunnel and Katahdin kills him.

The next day, the survivors make their way out of the forest. The helicopter is not an option as Huntoon was severely mauled in the beast's initial attack. Isely heads up to Mount Emery to try to reach a radio tower and call for help. Isley finds the radio tower but the monster immediately finds him and before Isley is able to call help, Katahdin kills him as well. The others find the Opie village mysteriously isolated and the Opie people gone, but take a truck and try to drive out along the winding forest road. Katahdin turns the truck over and finishes Huntoon off by devouring his head. The others run off through the forest with the beast in pursuit.

They arrive at the river and swim across. The cub continues to bite Maggie but Rob pulls it off her and holds it underwater, drowning it. Hector stays behind to make Katahdin flee but fails and he is killed as well. Katahdin seems reluctant to follow them at first, but then enters the water and vanishes. They believe she drowned but then she suddenly emerges. They take shelter in a log cabin, but Katahdin tears down the walls. Maggie is knocked unconscious by debris but Ramona is crushed to death. Verne finds a Winchester Model 71 in the cabin and shoots the monster twice with some effect. Hawks shoots arrows into Katahdin's hide until the beast sends him airborne with a mighty swat from her paws, then he lands on the ground, dead. Verne picks up an arrow, then Katahdin hoists him up, only to be stabbed repetitively in the face and jabbing her normal eye out until she collapses into the lake. Rob notices that the monster still moves slightly and leaps onto the beast and stabs her a few more times at her throat until her corpse finally sinks below the water, the horrid beast is finally slain.

Verne and Maggie fly over the forest the next day, but the final scene shows that there is another mutant bear roaring in the forest: it was Katahdin's mate, the father of her cubs.

In a alternate ending, after Verne killed Katahdin by stabbing her normal eye out, He & Maggie fly out of the Forest, the next day. While they fly off, the film ends with the camera panning over to the trees and you could hear the bear monster breathing, showing that another creature is out there, waiting for it's prey.

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