The Prophet’s Game (1999)


Germany/USA. 1999.


Director/Photography – David Worth, Screenplay – Carol Chrest, Producers – Willi Baer, Yael Stroh & Robert Yocum, Music – Mark Morgan, Makeup Effects/Prosthetics – Joshua Marin-Hepfl, Production Design – George Costello. Production Company – Moonstone Entertainment/Prophet’s Game LLC/Cinerenta/Cineflight


Dennis Hopper (Vincent Swan), Stephanie Zimbalist (Detective Francis Aldobrandi), Joe Penny (Walter Motter), Robert Yocum (Alan Joyce), Sondra Locke (Adele Highsmith), Shannon Whirry (Barb), Michael Dorn (Chief Bob Bowman), Darin Cooper (Detective Olsen), Don Swayze (Joseph Highsmith Sr), Pat Thomas (Lewis Shanks)


Retired Seattle police detective Vincent Swan suddenly receives a postcard that is the signature of the Little Jack Murders killer. Several years before, the Little Jack killer murdered Swan’s daughter and during the course of the investigation Swan killed him. At the same time, a new victim is found in Los Angeles with Swan’s phone number tattooed on the body. Swan is called in by the L.A.P.D. but the head of the case, Walter Motter, regards Swan as crazy and refuses him access to any information. Swan goes out on his own, trying to track the killer down via The Prophet’s Game, a campus game that the killer plays. In the game, participants are given cryptic clues to guess the identity of a celebrity where both the celebrity and the player are killed if the player gets too many answers wrong.

The Prophet’s Game is a modestly effective serial killer thriller. It is a minor effort that has only done the video/cable circuit without obtaining any notice.

The central Prophet’s Game is in itself dull and not particularly gripping an idea but the film around it is absorbingly told and holds several effective twists. Best of all are the characterisations. Dennis Hopper subdues his bug-eyed, hippie-survivor crazy man persona and gives a reasonable performance as an obsessive aging cop. Well paired against him is Stephanie Zimbalist. The characterisation of the conflicts between Hopper and the captain and the grudging trust that grows between he and Stephanie Zimbalist is particularly well crafted. It is this that makes for a modestly absorbing film.

Director David Worth had emerged as a cinematographer on adult films in the 1970s before finding work as director of photograhy for several Clint Eastwood films and a steady diet of action video releases in the 1980s. He has made a number of action films including Kickboxer (1989), Lady Dragon (1992) and American Tigers (1996). Worth has also made a number of other genre efforts with the likes of the post-holocaust film Warriors of the Lost World (1983), the amnesia action film Time Lapse (2001), Shark Attack 2 (2001), Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2003), the ghost story The House at the End of the Drive (2012) and the psycho film Hazard Jack (2014).

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