Monday, August 16, 2010
The Prowler is a prime example of the term "sleeper-slasher". It's a slow moving, brooding, atmospheric slasher film, that I have a love/hate relationship with. Upon first seeing it, back in the early 80's as a child, I loved it. I revisited it again about ten years ago, and I absolutely hated it, it didn't hold my attention at all! Now, I watched it again yesterday, after a long while, and I felt somewhere in the middle. I didn't hate the film, and I feel that with some script work, and some character development, The Prowler would have been mentioned in the same hallowed breath as Friday The 13th and Halloween. In my opinion, the slasher formula is to introduce and then destroy the characters in these films. If you don't give the audience something to love about the characters, they won't care when they are slaughtered. That is the biggest problem with The Prowler, I can't recall any of the characters names, and definitely didn't care when they bought the farm. I still think that the main reason that this film is still revered to this day, is because of the fantastic special effects by Tom Savini. Joe Zito(Friday The 13th 4:The Final Chapter), does well enough directing and establishes a fair amount of atmosphere. These factors make it fairly easy to watch, but they are not enough to elevate it to a "slasher classic".
Back in 1945,a manwhois away at war, receives a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend Rosemary. She explains that she cannot wait for him anymore, and breaks off their relationship. Upon his arrival home, he sees Rosemary and her new beau at a dance, and murders them in a gazebo during a make out session. Cue to the future, and the town is having it's first dance, since that ill-fated event. The local college girls and their boyfriends start meeting grizzly deaths by a masked killer in military garb. There is a deputy who is dating the "final girl", and they get the most screen time, but I can't recall either one of their names. That dreaded character development problem rears it's ugly head all over this film. Red herrings are introduced left and right, but not always discounted, it becomes quite a mess. Since the killings are the highlight here, we get to see a vicious throat slashing in a pool, a blade through the top of the head and out the chin. We get a few pitchfork deaths, and the best is a shotgun blast to the head that rivals the ones in Dawn Of The Dead(also supplied by Savini). Not very much else I can say about the film, because not much happens.
I wouldn't discourage you from seeking out and watching The Prowler, it's definitely one you should see at least once. Especially for the special effects, and the atmosphere. Friday fans might want to check out some of Zito's earlier work, and this is the best place to start. Maybe I shouldn't complain so much about the character problems, we are talking about a slasher film. But when you compare it to the slasher films that were coming out at the same time(F13 Part 2/The Burning) those films definitely have characters that stick with me to this day. Savini completest should definitely see this as he claims that this is some of his best work. Me, I will watch again in 5 years and see if my opinion has changed again?