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Prowler, The

Year of Release: 1981
Theatrical Release Date:

Director: Joseph Zito
Writing Credits:
Neal F. Barbera, Glenn Leopold
Run Time:
89 min
Studio: Info coming soon

Cast: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney, Farley Granger, Cindy Weintraub, Lisa Dunsheath, David Sederholm, Bill Nunnery

More Info: Visit Official Site

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Summary: On the night of her graduation dance in 1945, Rosemary and her date were brutally murdered by a prowler thought to be a jilted soldier home from the war. The killer was never found. Thirty years later, the dance is held again for the first time since that horrific evening, and the grads are ready to party … but once again, something terrible awaits the teens of this sleepy town. Who will meet their grisly ends at the hands of The Prowler?

Reviewer Film Ratings:
Plot: 2.5 | Fun Factor: 4.5 | Gore: 4 | Nudity: 2 | Scare Factor: 2.5 | Overall: 4/5

Maybe The Best Slasher Of Its Era
Reviewed by

Released in 1981, The Prowler never got the recognition of its peers. Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine and Prom Night all went on to pop culture familiarity spanning countless sequels and eventual remakes. Yet the Joseph Zito classic about a masked World War II army gear wearing slasher remains nothing more than a footnote in the annals of horror history.

And that is unfortunate. For not only does The Prowler exhibit some of make-up effects artist Tom Savini’s best work, but it also might just be the best slasher film released in the glory days of the early 1980’s.

Opening after the conclusion of World War II where a couple is brutally murdered, the film forwards 35-years to present day (1981 present day) where a group of college kids are preparing for an annual spring dance. Mysteriously, the fatigue donning killer reappears and using his weapons of choice (a bayonet and a pitchfork) he begins his night of terror that will leave the small New Jersey town soaked in adolescent blood.

A slasher film is routinely graded on the graphicness or originality of its kills. And The Prowler delivers the bloody goods thanks to the aforementioned Tom Savini. A pitchfork puncturing shower scene, a pool throat slashing and the shotgun blow to the head were arguably three of the best kills of The Prowler’s era – and era that included Friday the 13th sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween II.

The story itself is horror routine. But the execution by director Joseph Zito (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Invasion U.S.A.) is brilliantly choreographed in a thrilling and exciting film that holds up as well today as it did over 30-years ago. The Prowler was produced for $1 million but was self-distributed by Zito therefore relegating the title to the background of VHS rental video stores. But now that it is available on DVD and blu-ray, the title should be sought out by anyone who wants to be considered an authoritative voice on the genre.

Reviewer Film Ratings:
Plot: 2.5 | Fun Factor: 1.5 | Gore: 2 | Nudity: 2 | Scare Factor: 2 | Overall: 3.5/5

Oh, Yeah! The Prowler!
Reviewed by Gavin Schmitt

Rosemary did not wait for her lover to return from World War II. That was a big mistake, because now he's ready for revenge. And years after his murder of her (roughly forty years) he seems to have returned, terrorizing the members of a college dormitory who have thrown a graduation dance. With the sheriff out of town, can the deputy and his girlfriend solve the mystery?

"The Prowler" was directed by Joseph Zito, an incredibly nice guy and talented artist, probably better known for his installment in the "Friday the 13th" series. Also notable is that this film features special effects and makeup by Tom Savini, the undisputed horror master of the era. According to Wikipedia, the "film has been praised by gore fans for its brutal and realistic murder scenes." I'm not sure about the realism, but the brutal aspect is certainly true, and if there's an uncut version floating around, it must be a bloodbath. Eli Roth also considers it one of his inspirations in the documentary "Fantastic Flesh" (which is a good film in its own right).

"The Prowler" is in many ways like the 1981 slasher film "My Bloody Valentine", with the biggest difference being that "Prowler" is American and "Valentine" is Canadian. Both are excellent and both directors (the other being George Mihalka) are fine gentlemen, so I won't pick and choose between them here. Both films take place in a small town with the legend of a murder, where the killer has placed a so-called "curse" on the town where the residents cannot partake in a certain social gathering. Sure enough, the residents disobey the curse and are picked off in many brutal fashions.

I recommend "The Prowler" to any horror fan, and especially to those who love slashers of the 1980s. I think it has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, with shirts and posters becoming available. I freely admit that a few years ago I had not heard of the film, despite my love of slashers. My friend and colleague Timm Horn talked high praise of this one, and was delighted to meet Zito with me. I wish I could have shared Timm's full enthusiasm at the time.

Please pick this one up. I do not know what versions are available on DVD, so I cannot make a specific recommendation, but run, walk or crawl your way to a video store and find this film. It captures what was right about horror back in the day and what simply can never be again.

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