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Villain Overview

Out there, is a mindless, merciless creature of destruction... She will find you.
~ The narrator from the official trailer of Prophecy.

Katahdin is the main antagonist in the 1979 horror film, Prophecy and the 1979 horror novel of the same name.

She was portrayed by Tom McLoughlin, Charles Flemmer and the late Kevin Peter Hall, and her vocal sound effects were provided by Frank Welker.

Biography

Film

Katahdin is a horrifically mutated grizzly bear who has grown to abnormal size. It is believed that her parents consumed fish contaminated with Inorganic Methyl mercury, which caused the mutation of this monster when she was still in the womb (which in turn happens to Katahdin's own offspring). She was named by the local American Indian tribes, and mistaken for an ancient spirit angered by the logging activity on the mountain.

The dangerous beast is unusually large for a grizzly bear, and her face and body are hideously deformed. Katahdin is also mentally deranged and hostile, impulsively mauling anyone she comes across. She is drawn to her cubs, which is what causes her to pursue the protagonists throughout the film. After killing the bulk of the main cast, she is finally stabbed with an American Indian arrow and dies drowned in a lake; however, another Katahdin (the cubs' father) appears just before the end credits.

Book

Originally a black bear, Katahdin is a bizarre and horrible creature that is an amalgamation of all the creatures of the forest, being "a part of everything created" as described by Hector M'Rai, the leader of the American Indian tribe who baptized her with that name, confusing her with one of the legends of his tribe. Her origin is the same as in the movie, being created from inorganic methyl mercury ingested by her mother by eating fish contaminated with it, with the difference that the different stages of her fetus state were mixed into one (basing on the recapitulation theory) which gave her her bizarre and horrible appearance. She is just as large and also deranged in the same way as in the movie, impulsively killing whoever she finds, but yet she also has an "animal side," having hunted and cannibalized a black bear and eaten parts of a family of campers (different to her filmic counterpart, that only kills humans and non-forest animals such as dogs, ). As in the movie, she persues the protagonists because of her affection to her cubs, but nevertheless, after killing most of them and her death from being repeatedly shot, sinking in the lake, 5 more monsters were seen prowling around the forest.

Appearance

In the film, Katahdin has the appearance of a huge bear that walks on two legs and has one side mutated to a critical degree. The time that she was in her mother's womb along with the accidentally ingested methylmercury affected her, deforming her until becoming what she ended up being. On her right side, Katahdin has an appearance very similar to a common bear, with the difference that she never stops showing her teeth (perhaps because she does not have lips), and that she is missing fur in some sections such as on her arm, back and legs. She also has her neck connected to her hump and a twisted back. Unlike her right side, which was fortunate to retain most of her original appearance, her left side was drastically altered by the methylmercury. She lost her fur, which is now replaced by a mass of flesh running from her head to her waist, which has the impression of having been burned several times and that bears some resemblance to the keloid scars caused by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs. Katahdin also lacks of an eye, having only the eye of her right side, which is of a blue-ish gray color (which is hardly visible or in fact not even visible in dark areas). Her upper mammary glands were transferred to her stomach, remaining on top of the lower ones. The most remarkable thing about Katahdin is her immense size, standing 10.5 feet tall, considerably taller than a normal grizzly bear, which stands 7 feet tall on two legs.

As stated previously, in the book, despite being a black bear, Katahdin is physically an amalgamation of all the creatures of the forest. She has a bird-like appearance, black fur, pink-ish colored skin, large saucer-like eyes, needle-like sharp teeth, membranes between arms and legs, webbed hands, hooked claws, and big breasts. She is also estimated to be 15 feet tall, being larger than her filmic counterpart.

Powers, Abilities and Weaknesses

Film

  • Strong Hind-legs: Unlike normal bears, Katahdin is able to walk upright on two-legs for extensive amounts of time without tiring, and she knows how to use her hind-legs, as she can run without even tripping or losing her balance. This frees up her fore-paws to grasp for prey, though it is unknown if she can travel very fast, I.e quadrupedal (4-legged) galloping, but it is mostly likely that she can't.
  • Strength and Resistance: Katahdin possesses enormous supernatural strength, which makes her a truly dangerous being. A single swipe of her paw can throw a human to a great distance (evidently killing it), knock down trees, destroy a cabin, move rocks, and flip a jeep over. Katahdin also has incredible resistance. Her mutated skin turned into a really strong and impenetrable mass, managing to withstand shots from a rifle and arrows, making her partially indestructible. Katahdin also possesses great bite force, being able to rip a human's head off with a single bite.
  • Intellect: Katahdin is not a simple killing machine. She adores her cubs, and woe is all who stand between her and her babies. She will hold a deep hatred for her cub's abductors and anyone invading her turf, relentlessly tracking them and using various tactics like stealth to get close to them. She also knows to stand still and shut up until her prey is within striking distance, unlike typical monsters who roar constantly. This suggests she can indeed think and strategize, even using distractions like her own dead cub to lure a victim. Her mutated skin more likely than not must be a source of discomfort, making her more irritable than a normal bear, making her especially dangerous. Even then, it doesn't seem to affect her so.
  • Eye Vision: Katahdin has an extremely good vision, being able to see in total darkness at night, and/or can also see her preys from long distances. However, her eye is weakened by flashing lights during the night, and it also does not recognize humans when they wear animal skin, as happenned with Hector M'Rai during the camp attack, who she perhaps thought was an animal of the forest. Nevertheless the eye had the great weakness of being very sensitive, which caused her eye to shoot out of its socket when it was minced by the arrow used by Robert Verne.
  • Can hold her breath/Breathe underwater: During her pursuit of the protagonists, Katahdin walked into a lake, sinking in the process. However, bubbles appeared on the surface, which came from Katahdin herself, just before she surfaced. This tells us that Katahdin can hold his breath underwater, or even breathe underwater.
  • Sharp Senses: Katahdin has shown that her senses are extremely keen, as she can detect her cubs despite being unable to see them. She either hears their cries and/or can smell them from miles away, and don't think she cannot find you if you hide deep underground. Despite her missing eye, Katahdin preserves her depth perception, knowing the range of distance between her and her prey to grab or hit it.
  • Fire: Katahdin feels pain from fire, or even hates it, since during two gas explosions that ignited fire during the attack on the camp, Katahdin roared both in pain and annoyance at being touched by it.
  • The American Indian Arrow: During Katahdin's final battle with Robert Verne, his constant stabbing with the arrow into her throat while she was unconscious in the lake impeded her from breathing, causing her to drown, as well as sinking into the lake.

Book

Seemingly those of the filmic Katahdin. Despite this, there is an ability, and a weakness, that she does not possess in the film.

  • Gliding ability: As she looks like a bird and has membranes between her arms and legs, Katahdin possesses the slight ability to glide in the air.
  • Resistance: Despite her enormous size and strength, Katahdin possesses a not very resistant skin, being severely damaged by bullets and arrows, even having her mouth broken by one of these. It should also be mentioned that Katahdin died after her eye was penetrated by Robert's arrow, apparently having internally damaged her head.

As an extra fact, Katahdin is not affected by fire.

Victims

Film

  • 1-4: Search party (killed off screen)
  • 5-7: Paul, Travis and Kathleen Nelson (killed off screen)
  • 8: Kelso (killed)
  • 9: An indian (thrown into fire)
  • 10-12: Three Paper Mill members (killed off screen)
  • 13: Sheriff Bartholomew Pilgrim (killed)
  • 14: Bethel Isely (disemboweled)
  • 15: Huntoon (decapitated)
  • 16: Hector M'Rai (killed)
  • 17: John Hawks (killed)

Novel

Note: There are some other non-confirmed victims and deaths, but these are the ones that have been added and changed from the movie.

  • 1: Black bear (eaten)
  • 2-5: Search party (killed)
  • 6-9: Kathleen, Paul, Travis and Jeanine Nelson (killed and eaten)
  • 10: Deputy (killed)
  • 11: Kelso (slashed in half)
  • 12: Sheriff Bartholomew Pilgrim (head smashed)
  • 13: Bethel Isely (decapitated)
  • 14: John Hawks (impaled)

Trivia

  • Katahdin was originally planned to be an amalgamation of the forest creatures for the film (though being a mercury-poisoned bear), even having a design ready, planned to be 15 feet tall. However, there was no special effects artist who was convinced with the design. Rick Baker was called in and said the design sucked and he wasn't interested in doing it. Later, Stan Winston was called, saying that he would do it, but also proposing a redesign, and also asking for a lot of money, so the studio did not budge. Tom Burman was called in, and he said that the design was not going to work, nor would it work as a suit, so he proposed a redesign, saying he could turn it into "a horrendous looking bear, slightly normal-looking on one side and all messed up on the other". After making a mock-up (one of the suits for the normal height actors), the studio liked it and approved the redesign, being the one used in the movie.
    • As is evident, the original design was reused by writer David Seltzer for the film's novel adaptation.
  • Katahdin's name comes from an ancient spirit which is described as "Larger than a dragon and got the eyes of a cat"., as Bethel Isely says.
    • This name also comes from a mountain that is in the state of Maine. The name "Katahdin" means "the tallest mountain", which was possibly used because of her height.
  • In the film, Hector M'Rai describes Katahdin as a he and not as a she, when she is actually female.
  • Katahdin was portrayed in the film by three suits (one of 6 feet for Tom, another one of 8 feet for Charles, and one of 10.5 feet for Kevin) and puppets of the head and arms. The 6-foot and 8-foot suits were used in most scenes, sometimes in solo shots, sometimes in close-ups. The 6 foot suit was also used in a shot chasing one of the leads, which had to be placed on her knees to make the suit appear taller. The 10.5 foot suit was used for the scenes where the monster was interacting with the actors, this suit representing the actual size of the monster. The head and arm puppets were used in a few shots, such as close-ups or shots where only the monster's arms are visible. Even though the suits and puppet parts tried to maintain the monster's appearance consistent, several differences between them can be seen.
    • This was mainly noticed by Tom Burman, as the 10.5 foot suit was done by Jack Shafton's company and not by him.
      • Ironically, nobody noticed that there are actually three suits and puppet parts being used in the film, always reffering to Katahdin as only a suit.
  • Katahdin was dearly nicknamed "Barbara" and "Pizza Bear" by the staff of the film.
  • Katahdin is mentioned by movie director John Frankenheimer in a comment he did of the film, where he says "I don't think our monster was very frightening".

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