The Prowler (1981) Film Review: An Often Overlooked Slasher You Should See


The slasher craze that was defined in the late seventies and throughout the eighties is my favorite time period of horror cinema. There were so many of these films made that you can dig really deep and still not even scratch the surface. I am still finding great films, like The Mutilator, that have a crazy cult following even though most people have never heard of them. You don’t have to dig as deep to find The Prowler as you do for The Mutilator, but it is still often overlooked by many people.


The Prowler is about a killer who stalks a group of students at a Spring Dance. This sentence alone makes someone who hasn’t seen the film instantly weary of clichĂ©s, and the film does have a few. The film does, however, attempt to take the slasher in a different direction of some of the others at the time. For instance, the film opens with American soldiers returning from World War II. The voice over man celebrates their victory and the opportunity to announce their return to their families. He also makes sure he mentions the fact that some will face challenges upon their return. In a time period where PTSD was not as well publicized as it is today, this film was bringing light to a subject that many people wanted to ignore. Now, I know there were plenty of amazing films in the seventies that dealt with soldiers returning home from Vietnam to deal with emotional scars. I do not, however, recall many horror slashers of the eighties going in this direction.


The film itself had some pretty amazing people involved in its creation. Lawrence Tierney was in more than 100 projects over the years, but most of my readers would probably recognize him as the boss man in Reservoir Dogs. Director Joseph Zito was pretty huge in the eighties. He directed Missing in Action, with Chuck Norris, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. The most important horror film icon in this film is Tom Savini. He was already well versed in his craft at this point in his career, having worked on Martin, Maniac, and Friday the 13th. This film stands out among the rest in my eyes. I feel like this could be his best work in the kills department. The exploding head in Maniac is an amazing shotgun kill, but I think the one in this film is even better. There are also other memorable kills in this movie. The pitchfork kills are nothing special, but when the killer starts to get creative, you will be impressed with his brutality.

The bottom line is that I totally loved this film. It pays homage to films like Carrie and Friday the 13th, while building in enough originality to make it stand out in the genre. I own the Blue Underground standard definition release and it is a good-looking film. Since it is already very clean, I probably won’t splurge on an additional Blu-ray copy. Blue Underground now has a Blu-ray release, which is probably why I got my standard copy so cheap. I highly recommend this film, and would probably get the Blu-ray if the music was better and I was looking for a better sound experience. This film gets an 8/10 based on pure imagery and kills. Some of the acting and music brings it down a bit, but I believe this is a must own film for the horror fan. If you are purely a slasher fan, however, you probably already own it and you’re wondering how the hell I am just getting around to seeing it.

Find it here on BR or DVD:

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