Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weekly schlock and awe movie time!

During a recent viewing of a documentary on the slasher film genre, the was mention of the film, The Prowler. Now this has the effects chops of Tom Savini and has the direction of Joseph Zito. Now together these two did Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (or part 4 with the Feldman). That is my favorite of the series. Would this pre- Friday pairing of dudes make a fun slasher? Now my special lady friend said that we need “needed” to see this. I didn’t disagree and was thankful (as always) it was a slasher she wanted to see and not some drippy rom-com.
It did not freeze my blood at all.

We enter with footage of soldiers coming home from WWII. Then we jump to a homecoming party for said soldiers. Some dude off camera is reading a card from his dame, Rose. I’ll paraphrase the card…..
Welcome home from killin’ Nazis....and I’m dumping you.
Love Rose.
Jump to later that night and  Rose with some dandy are heading out to the gazebo for a bout of heavy petting. Along comes jilted army guy in and decides to impale them both with a pitchfork.

Jump ahead to 1980 and the same town has a college and its graduation time! The first dance is happening in 35 years in this town. It is also the same night that jilted army guy decides to come out of killing retirement. Go grab a pitchfork and fatigues! The Prowler is on the loose again!

There is a lot of this...and it sucks! Creepy army guy is creepy?
Holy crap snacks is there a lot of bad in this movie!
This movie follows the genre formula of: horrible event in a flashback, jump to re-opening of location/graduation/dance/camp where original murder took place, add a virgin with boy trouble, a group of horny friends, booze (drugs or both), add a boob here and there, throw in some red herring suspects and a the quintessential masked killer. The standard flair we are all used to seeing. However, in this film it fails. What should be the gold standard thriller/killer feels more like a violent live action Scooby Doo sans dog and his burn-out buddy.
I know this sounds lame when describing this type of movie, but the plot was just awful! Why the hell did a guy want to start killing again after 35 years? Does he hate public dances that much? There is no motivation for the murderous onslaught and that really stuck in my craw. Seriously, all these movies have a bit where you learn why said killer is jaded and thirsty for blood. Well, all but this one. Would it have been awful to add that Mr. Prowler thinks the main girl looks like Rose? Maybe Mr. Prowler hates music more than the town from Footloose? Did anyone know why he is all killy? Did anyone care? Did the writers even know? What day is it? Why am I damp and on the floor? Where are my pants? Damn it not again!

Time to haul ass!
He must have served in the 103rd "The Fighting Pokers" Pitchfork Division.
Sorry random brain hemorrhage. I’ back now.
There are other problems as well. There is a severe pacing issue as well. By the gods this movie is slow! The violence all happens in the first half and then we get a horrible cat and mouse chase that moves at glacial speeds. A lot is shot at night and it looks murky. Hell even the daytime scenes are drab and muddy. There are slasher clichés abound as well, but that is to be expected. However, with this being an early entry into the slasher genre, are these really cliché? They are by today’s standards, but for late 70-early 80 they would be new and fun right? They encompass: the typical jump scare, loud music scare and the ever popular false scare (where you back into someone who isn’t the killer, but you think they are). Hell, you can figure the killer out in the first reel. It is that obvious! I could also add the lack of character development, but that is all too common in slashers. The players are just meat for the beast. Who needs to know about them besides their drive for partying and sexy times?

The Prowler (1981) (4)
Like the shower scene in Psycho, but with a pitchfork?
Is there anything of note in this film? Well the bloody bits are good. We can thank Tom Savini for that. Sure this is his early special effects work, but it
holds up well. The stabbing and throat slicing is most impressive. It also helps that the bad guy holds his victims until they stop moving. This is always a creepier choice than the quick stab and move along to the next person shtick. There is a great pitchfork in the shower killing that is done very convincingly. The best blood is saved for last and it is great! Like the best of Scanners great! It is just a shame that the kill count is so low and so early in the movie.
What is supposed to be an intense thriller/slasher just come off more as an evil G.I. Joe killing some college graduates because it is a Friday. Once again good gore can make a film fun, but sadly not here.

This just a bad early entry into the mass produced slasher films of yore. I guess if The Prowler didn’t get made, then maybe the collaboration  between Savini and Zito would never have made Friday 13th part 4. I guess that is the real positive I can take away from this stinker.


  1. Yep I've seen this one and it's...ok.
    It was one of those late-night Skinemax or Showtime joints, like the Town that Dreaded Sundown or the Emmanuel flics.
    I lost way too much sleep staying up late watching these damn movies.

    And I get like, flashbacks comin' here and seein' someone write about 'em.

  2. Emmanuel was the shiznit!
    I'm working my thru the "classics" that is for sure.