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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Prowler (1981)

More movie fun for the Blog. Like I mentioned in the review for The Funhouse I’ve been in the mood to check out some old slasher movies. Sort of getting in touch with my inner ‘80s horror nerd. Again, trying to avoid the obvious choices, I found a gem hiding out on the shelves. This time around I’m revisiting the Joseph Vito directed flick The Prowler.

The movie opens at the end of the Second World War. There is a voiceover that lets us know a young lady named Rosemary has decided not to wait on her unnamed beau to return from the service and has taken up with another young man. We first see Rosemary and her new boyfriend at a dance, but they don’t stay long. Soon they are in a secluded spot doing what young people are apt to do with each other. A figure in military gear shows up and does away with them both using a pitchfork. Flash forward to thirty-five years later and the local college is having another dance, the first since the murders. This is a bad idea because sure enough a similarly garbed figure starts to kill anyone involved with the dance. Who is the killer? Does it have to do with Rosemary or is this some new crazy? Well I’m not going to spoil things.

I like a killer that gets right to the point!
I’m really going to do my best to review The Prowler without giving any spoilers away. The movie does such a good job of setting up a group of suspects quickly and then slowly chips them away. But it never gives the viewer too much information so that when unmasked the killer’s identity is still a surprise. Far too many times in this genre we know who is doing the murdering and it ruins some of the enjoyment. In my opinion, the mystery is part of the fun. Also, I love the look of the killer covered head to toe in an old military uniform. It is amazing how creepy such a simple costume looks.

The lighting and camerawork make for some excellent atmosphere. Most of the movie takes place on a single night. So, we have a lot of scenes of people wandering around dark houses, creepy cemeteries, and sitting in cars waiting to be scared. This makes for tension that builds up slowly as the story unfolds. Speaking of the scares there are some really well-done jump scares that are setup perfectly and don’t feel forced. To be clear The Prowler doesn’t rely on jump scares and doesn’t have to because it does such a good job building tension. But it does use them to add to the fun which is a nice touch. This is a lesson that many newer horror flicks should learn.

I love the look of the killer!
There are some fans that don’t like the story or pacing to The Prowler. I obviously don’t have that issue. But most everyone does acknowledge the stellar special effects work, done by the maestro Tom Savini. We get some spectacular practical effects work with all the kills happening on screen! Listing the kills, we have a Pitchfork thru the couple to start things off. Followed by a knife thru the head, another pitchfork thru a showering lady, a slashed throat, a stabbed throat, and a couple of shotgun blasts. Each and every one of these effects look great. This was the prime of Savini’s career and the kills alone are worth watching the movie.

This has all the hallmarks of a good slasher movie. Some nudity, a decent body count with seven kills (again all onscreen!), and the killer looks cool. Taking the time to create a mystery around the killer’s identity and the efforts behind the camera to create a tense mood only add to the overall fun. Not as well known to casual fans The Prowler is a movie that needs to be seen and appreciated. I obviously recommend it.

Next up in my Slasher marathon is Terror Train

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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