Prey (1978)

DECEMBER 26, 2009


Finally! A good movie called Prey (aka Alien Prey). It’s not for everyone though; it’s slow, strange, and largely lacking in any actual horror. But if you’re like me and can appreciate, well, a slow, weird movie in which an alien does his best to break apart a hermitic lesbian couple, then you should dig this obscure British flick.

The alien stuff is largely confined to three scenes: the opening, closing, and one in the middle that was probably tossed in just to remind us that the dude was a full blown alien, with a commander and orders and everything. One thing I loved about the movie is that it may be the first in which the fact that the main character was an alien was sort of a MacGuffin. Hell, for a stretch in the 3rd act I began to suspect if he was the villain at all, as one of the lesbian women became more threatening in her demeanor.

It’s the little moments that totally make this movie. Like when one of our heroines finds all of their chickens dead (they live on a farm) and instead of dropping to her knees and crying, or running away, she fucking KICKS the corpses of the poor chickens (all three of them!), which is the weirdest goddamn reaction to finding a dead animal that I’ve ever seen. Later, when the alien catches a fox that they have blamed for the chickens’ deaths, one of the girls decides to throw a party to celebrate. A “party”, with only three people who live together, celebrating the death of a fox who killed their chickens. She even makes a little cake with a sugar fox on it. Oh, and they make the alien wear a dress and they put lipstick on him. You know, because they’re lesbians.

Speaking of which, the movie stops cold halfway through for the two of them to engage in a soft-core love scene. Normally I would applaud such things, but as they are the only two people in the movie besides the alien, it actually just feels like padding, because it’s the only “action” that occurs until the final 10 minutes. There’s another brief scene where he kills some cops, but it’s so short and largely weightless (the cops are never mentioned again - I guess the rest of the police force doesn’t care that two of their men are dead?) that it doesn’t really count.

The kill scenes are pretty hilarious too, in that in lieu of any actual impact or penetration, they just cut to this static shot of the guy baring his vampire-esque teeth, as if to merely suggest that he’s going to bite/eat them. But again, the real joy of the film stems from its oddball little moments and the fact that the heroine seems crazier than the villain (especially when she begins brandishing a switchblade that appears to be a foot long), so it’s OK.

The most suspenseful aspect of the film is that of Wally, the parrot that the women keep in a cage on their patio. You know the alien (who looks a bit like Diabolik) is going to kill him eventually, and it’s just a matter of when. Director Norman Warren and writer Max Cuff (this is his only credit - bummer) milk this scenario for all it’s worth to admirable effect. Poor Wally.

The DVD has a bizarre 25 minute interview with Warren. It’s bizarre for two reasons: 1. only about 5 of it are about Prey (and it’s right in the middle of the piece to boot), and 2. it is shot by a guy who is holding the camera in his hand, and he apparently has Warren film HIM asking the questions! So the whole thing looks like something out of an apartment-set Blair Witch homage, and the audio is atrocious, making it even harder to understand their British accents. Of much more entertainment value is the trailer, which not only oversells the alien stuff, but also includes the tagline “For a million years man was the hunter - now he is the PREY!”. I think they are a few hundred thousand years off with their estimate. The special features menu is equally puzzling, as it features some sort of queen villain that doesn’t actually appear in the film.

Like Cathy’s Curse or whatever, this seems destined to be one of those weird movies I really like that no one’s ever heard of and will use my love of Armageddon or The Hitcher as an excuse not to take my recommendation seriously. Well fuck them. YOU should go rent/buy it at once.

What say you?

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