The Prowler!

Gory greetings! It’s 2013. If you think you’re safe…you’re dead wrong!

 

THE PROWLER (1981)

1945. A young soldier returns home to the States from the brutality of WWII and is greeted by a “Dear John” letter from his best gal, Rosemary. The sudden loss and ensuing heartbreak causes the soldier to snap and go insane. His response to having his heart ripped out is donning his combat fatigues and crashing Rosemary’s college graduation dance. Armed with a pitchfork, the silent prowler crashes a gazebo grope fest that Rosemary was enjoying with her new boyfriend and swiftly impales the horny young lovers. As a final gesture of his contempt, the killer leaves a rose on their bloody corpses. This violent death left the small town of Avalon Bay shocked and horrified, and Rosemary’s killer was never identified or captured.

After 35 long years of silence, the town attempts to bury the memories of the brutal murders once and for all and decide to finally have another graduation dance. As the preparations for the dance are underway the Sheriff (Farley Granger) catches wind of a report about a killer that robbed a store in a nearby town and cut up a young victim before stealing their car. Despite the fact this maniac could be heading for Avalon Bay, the Sheriff seems more interested in leaving town for his weekend fishing trip. The Sheriff leaves his dipshit deputy Mark (Christopher Goutman) in charge of keeping the town safe. Mark has a pretty young love interest named Pam (Vicky Dawson), and the two make plans to keep an eye on each other during the dance.

As the sexy sorority sluts put on their war paint and prepare for the evening’s festivities, Rosemary’s killer also prepares himself for a night of action. After donning his old combat uniform the madman breaks his trusty pitchfork out of storage and also grabs his bayonet and shotgun. Obviously still holding a lethal grudge against happy young lovers, the prowler sneaks into the girls dormitory and begins an all out assault. The first victim has a bayonet violently rammed through his skull. This unfortunate lad’s girlfriend is showering at the time, and the killer proceeds to give her a breast exam with his pitchfork. Pam almost becomes the next victim when she discovers the prowler in the stairwell, but she barely manages to run away and tell Mark that someone was chasing her.

Blissfully unaware that a psycho killer is lurking in their midst, Mark and Pam then wonder around the campus looking for someone pulling a bizarre prank. As they slowly begin to uncover the deadly secrets of Avalon Bay, the prowler strikes again and slits the throat of a young girl taking a swim. A teacher goes looking for the missing girl and gets a bayonet in the neck for her efforts. Mark and Pam eventually wind up inside a large house owned by the creepy old man that runs the school (the late great Lawrence Tierney!) and have a mind blowing final battle with Rosemary’s killer. It will freeze your blood.

THE PROWLER has to be considered one of the most bloodthirsty slasher flicks ever made. The eye popping special effects from Tom Savini steal the show and make this one essential viewing for gorehounds. There’s a spectacular exploding head shot that rivals Savini’s other efforts in “Dawn Of The Dead” and “Maniac.” The bayonet head stabbing is especially brutal, and the gruesome way the actor’s eyes pop out as the blade slowly works it’s way through his skull never ceases to give me chills. All of the death scenes in this movie are gory as hell and help “The Prowler” stand out in the pack of similar slasher flicks that were flooding the market at the same time.

The always reliable Joesph Zito directed “The Prowler” and did a fantastic job. Zito later went on to direct “Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter” based on the strength of his work on “The Prowler.” The film has a distinctly polished feel and is much classier looking than some of the other slasher flicks of the time period. The extended opening set in 1945 was done quite quite effectively on a very small budget. The slick photography by Raul Lomas, smooth editing by Joel Goodman, and the haunting score by Richard Einhorn also go a long way in helping the film capture a superior, suspense filled atmosphere of terror.

The film’s low budget (about $1,000,000) only really hurt the film when it came time for distribution. Sadly, there wasn’t enough money available to properly market the film to horror fans or get it in enough theaters to make a major profit. The shaky distribution was also hampered when the film’s title was changed midway through it’s theatrical run from “The Prowler” to “Rosemary’s Killer.” As a result, the film quickly slipped into semi-slasher obscurity. It’s too bad really, because “The Prowler” is clearly one of the very best 80’s slasher flicks. It somehow manages to be both superior in terms of glossy production value and grisly flesh ripping carnage, truly the best of both worlds.

For many years, a good looking uncut copy of  THE PROWLER was a hard thing for horror fanatics to come by. Most of the original VHS releases were heavily edited. In 2002 the fine folks at Blue Underground did hardcore horror fans a big favor by releasing a dvd of “The Prowler” that is completely uncut and uncensored. It also includes nifty bonus features such as an entertaining audio commentary track with Joseph Zito and Tom Savini, an extensive poster and still gallery, and best of all –  Tom Savini’s rarely seen behind the scenes gore footage! Own this now or suck forever.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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