The Prowler

AUGUST 2, 2007


Hopefully by the time I finish HMAD, or life itself (whichever comes second), I will have seen all of the slashers from 1980-1982. I have seen most, but there are a few gaps, such as (until now anyway) The Prowler, which is one of the more popular ones due to the Savini FX and the fact that it was directed by Joseph Zito, who went on to make one of the best F13 sequels: The Final Chapter.

For a film released right in the middle of the slasher craze, this one is surprisingly non-cliché. There are still the stupid kids who go off to fool around after being told there’s a killer around, but the structure of the film is far different than many of its kin. For starters, our Final Girl knows about the killer about 25 minutes or so into the film, and spends the next half hour escaping or hiding from him. Usually Final Girl is pretty insulated from the shenanigans until the final reel or so. Weird. Also, unlike some other whodunits (particularly My Bloody Valentine, which this film often resembles), the killer’s identity is so ridiculously obvious it’s a wonder they tried to hide it at all. The character who turns out to be the killer repeatedly mentions his ‘alibi’ in his first few scenes, for no other reason other than to make sure the audience really thinks that’s where he is. I’m surprised he didn’t just grab the camera and shout “I’M GOING FISHING!” into it.

The Final Girl is played by Vicky Dawson, and while she has a slight resemblance to slasher goddess Amy Steel, she is without a doubt the boringest and DOUREST Final Girl in history. She only smiles once in the entire film, and the rest of the time she’s just yelling at people or looking grumpy. I’m all for mixing up the archetypes a bit, but come on, this chick needs to be on some sort of medication. Luckily the other characters are pretty likeable, if unmemorable.

The DVD has a commentary and a pretty nice collection of video clips of Savini at work. But even without those, the DVD would be worth owning, as it is the uncut version. So for once, we get all the great Savini gore that was certainly hacked to nothing for the theatrical release. If only Blue Underground could get a hold of My Bloody Valentine or the Friday the 13th series, so we could get proper releases of those instead of the worthless abortions Paramount unleashed on the fans. Sadly, the audio portion isn’t as admirable, as the sound quality is extremely poor. Like Bay of Blood, I had to tune my receiver far higher than the normal level just to hear the dialogue (ambient sound and lower music cues were still muted). I was very disappointed in that regard.

Unlike a lot of the slashers of the time, Prowler definitely sticks out. It’s far from perfect, but it’s nice to know that Zito and co. were at least trying to do something a bit different while retaining the most important elements of the slasher film, i.e. a naked girl getting killed in the shower.

What say you?


  1. Finally.

    The prowler - is the slasher i think i have watched the most times in my life. came out when i was 10 years old - and was a regular on the then pay television channels. i watched it every day for months it seems like. (we had free movies yay!)

    i hadn't seen it in over 20 years - until about 6 months ago when i got the same dvd you reviewed. so -it was go time. and - yes the fx are still better than alot of what you see today.

    the movie does so many things right - and it even leaves you with a very unhappy feeling after. one thing i really appreciate is a movie where - sure the 'good guy' prevails - but you still leave the movie feeling sad. then i know they didn't conform to the masses.

    the end of this movie was, and is upon my latest watching - very sobering and has a lasting impact with me just because it is very non-cliche.

    kind of like how Wolf Creek left you...

    if you have not seen this movie - you MUST if you are a slasher fan. it is very hard to find though - and can be expensive. but yes try amazon etc.

  2. The small elements of this movie stick out to me. First, the killer is walking around, but you never know where exactly he is at. Also, the necklace hanging in the chimney part was a real shocker to me! Great flick I'll watch over and over. The gore is top notch too!

  3. Holy crap! What a gem! I watched this without having done my homework. I was blown away by the fx. That pool neck slash scene was incredible. So, I was going to look up the special effects guy on this so I could crown him king, but found out he was already wearing the crown. Tom Savini rules!!!

  4. I just added the blu ray of this to my collection and the audio is significantly improved on blu. With exception of one brief moment at the dance (and I'm not entirely certain that the conversation wasn't intended to be more ambient noise) there is no difficulty hearing dialogue. The sound field is layered and spreads nicely through the front three channels, and there are even a few moments that get the rear channels involved.

    This film would be on my list of my top ten all time favorite slashers.

  5. In case you are still hoping for those snipped scenes from the Friday the 13th to be put back in, let me break your heart. Paramount had them destroyed, based on various things I've read over the years. I keep hoping someone kept copies of the original uncut prints, but Paramount apparently wouldn't allow them to be included in an "official" release even if they did surface.

    Here's hoping all the stories I've heard/read about Paramount being weasels is untrue.


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