The Prophet's Game (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|Dennis Hopper is rapidly joining Peter Weller, Roy Scheider, and Rod Steiger on that list of guys who used to be in real movies. This is the second obscure unreleased Hopper movie I've seen in a month.|
|Here's the premise: Hopper is a retired
homicide detective who once killed the very serial killer
who took Hopper's daughter as one of his victims.
Conveniently for our plot, Hopper has no memory of the
incident when he killed the guy.
He is dragged out of retirement by phone calls from a "copycat", who eventually makes Hopper wonder if he ever really got rid of the first one.
|So Hopper migrates from Seattle to LA to
check it out, and takes a room in a motel pictured in a
postcard he received from the killer. The motel has a
flashing neon "M-O-T-E-L" light outside the
window, as per standard grade b film noir requirements.
The mainstream cops, led by Worf
as the chief of police, try to work with Hopper because they don't want him
wandering around town unsupervised. They assign
Stephanie Zimbalist to babysit him, and the two of them
end up working together on the crimes.
The name of the film is based upon the serial killer's mad game, which involves placing clues on the internet. The prophet moves from city to city, lures contestants into playing his game about identifying a celebrity from a riddle, then kills that celebrity and takes body parts if the questions aren't answered correctly. His game is called the Prophet's Game because he "predicts" the next person to die with a riddle.
Sounds like an old SCTV skit, where the contestants either won lovely prizes or eternal damnation. "If you're right, you win the lovely bedroom suite, but if you're wrong - the demons will rend your flesh!"
Anyway, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Dennis Hopper was absolutely terrific in this. He played neither of his usual characters - he wasn't the forlorn midwestern loser or the psychopathic killer. He played a man who wasn't sure what he did that day he "killed" the killer, and who was tortured by the knowledge that if the killer is still alive that he beat an innocent man to death in a fit of rage - or did he? What he really did that day, and to whom, is half of the mystery. He shows a high level of emotions within the range of a normal human being who would have been in the situation. I was really impressed and touched by his performance.
other performers also responded capably (good to see
Stephanie Zimbalist again), and I also enjoyed following
along with the game and seeing what the real deal was in
the original confrontation between Hopper and the killer.
The answer to the killer's identity was planted inside
the film, and it could have been deduced, but I didn't
piece it together. The main point is that the answer did
make sense once they revealed it.
We all know this isn't The Maltese Falcon, but I don't know why Apollo felt this film deserved a 38/100. The users' scores are about right - it's a two and a half star movie that you might like if you like this kind of movie.
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