When you get the director of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Joesph Zito and special effects makeup artist extraordinaire, Tom Savini together to make an 80s slasher film, you know you’re going to get something nice and gory. The Prowler, released in 1981, a few years before The Final Chapter, is exactly that, gory. Unfortunately, if you wipe away all that blood and guts and try to find the story, you’ll be saddened to find out it’s pretty much non-existent. Let’s prowl through this review to find out why…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
The Prowler has a couple of things going for it. The killer is interesting looking, decked out in military garb and utilises a bayonet and pitchfork (yeah, not your standard military issue weapon, but we’ll let it slide) with deadly force. The kills are graphic and they should be, with Tom Savini providing the great special effects, that are both gritty and oh so bloody. You’ll want to seek out the unrated version if you can.
Looking past the gore though, you’ll start to see that the movie doesn’t really have a coherent plot. The film doesn’t dive into its story and try to explain anything, but rather shoots through one scene to another, leaving you with several unanswered questions at the conclusion. The killer’s motive is left unclear, a wheelchair military man wheels through one scene and vanishes the next, a grave is dug up and the body is left in a chimney for no real reason and don’t get me started on the reveal of who the killer was. I feel like the movie wanted me to be shocked, but instead, I was left befuddled, even more so with the unnecessary shock ending, which echos the film Pieces, but with a lot less crotch-grabbing.
As for the acting, I would say it’s your standard 80s fare, with no one person really sticking out as being poor. Although, I do have to say one scene had me laughing at how random and awesome the acting was. I won’t go into specifics, but the scene, in particular, involves the local town crazy, trying to save the day with his shotgun and the resulting bedroom eyes that happen between our would-be victim and hero is hilarious. It was weird, cheesy and what happens a few seconds later, resulted in some big laughs from yours truly.
I do want to mention that the movie does have a few suspenseful scenes, greatly aided by a pretty tight musical score. Even though the plot isn’t the greatest, the music on the other hand was pretty good.
The Prowler is your typical 80s slasher, with some really stomach-turning gore and an even more stomach-turning plot. Which honestly, isn’t that what you want? Screw the story! I want some blood and gore and that is exactly what you’re going to get when you watch this movie. If you haven’t seen this one yet, I recommend you hunt it down.