Review Date: September 1, 2002
Released by: Blue Underground
Release date: 9/1/2000
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
introduced the world to the slasher genre in 1978, and Friday the 13th
solidified its status in 1980, an onslaught of imitators followed in huge numbers. It was tough to sort the good from the bad, as most of the new slasher films were just shot-for-shot remakes of the genre's successful predecessors. Over twenty years later, the majority of the slasher films to follow in Halloween
's wake remain mostly forgettable. There does remain, however, a small little film entitled The Prowler
that still manages to hold its own today. With direction by Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
's Joseph Zito and makeup effects by gore maestro Tom Savini, the film remains one of the best, if little seen slashers from the early 1980's. Now, thanks to the newly created Blue Underground, it is presented on the first time ever on DVD. Let's prowl though this disc and take a look now, shall we?
Avalon Bay, 1945; soldiers have just returned home from the grueling World War and are now ready to celebrate and reunite with their high school sweethearts. There is one man however, who does not fare so idyllically. He receives a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend, telling him that she has moved on and no longer feels for him. The war vet does not take this news so handily, and in a bitter rage he seeks out Rosemary at her graduation dance, killing both her and her new boyfriend. Dressed in uniform, he lays a rose in his ex's outstretched hand, and vanishes from the scene.
Thirty five years later, the town of Avalon Bay is ready to have another graduation dance, although fear is still in the air. There is a robber who has just murdered someone and could be heading in to town, and apparently Rosemary's father didn't take his daughter's death to well. To make things even worse, the sheriff is going out on his annual fishing expedition, leaving young Deputy Mark London (Christopher Goutman
) alone to deal with the town.
Mark's girlfriend, the quite mannered Pam MacDonald (Vicky Dawson
) is setting up for the dance, but she too knows something bad is in the air. The dance begins, and Pam's friends get ready for a night of sex, drugs and drinking, but what they g et is not quite what they were expecting. The prowler is back, and he is ready to make everybody sorry for holding the dance again.
is a slasher that bares particular resemblance to Paramount's My Bloody Valentine
, and as all slasher fans know, both films are in the cream of the slasher film crop. Joseph Zito keeps a dark and ominous tone throughout the film, and there is little relief to the happenings. The prowler is lurking nearly the entire film, and that not only keeps the suspense intact, but it also eliminates the traditionally boring middle portion of most slasher films.
As good as Zito's direction is, the true star of the film is Tom Savini's shocking makeup effects. There are several murders throughout the film, and the vast majority of them leave little left for the imagination. Knifes and pitchforks enter various segments of the victim's bodies, and blood is spurted on walls, doors and even in water. Tom Savini also goes as far as to recreate his famous shotgun blast to the head sequence that he did only months prior to The Prowler
in the excellent film, Maniac
. This is arguably Savini's finest gore moments on screen, and those with a love for blood and impalings will not find a more realistic depiction on film.
Savini and Zito deserve credit for the talent that they brought to the picture, because the story they have to work with is pretty cliché. Characters are always wandering off alone and oblivious to everything that is happening around them. Pam is frightened five times throughout the film because she is walking backwards without knowing where she is going. The slasher clause that all those partaking in drinking, drug use and premarital sex are doomed to death is also used throughout the film. These shortcomings give the film somewhat of a campy-ness that defines the films of the early 1980's.
Without the camp, the movie would almost be too unrelenting and grim and would not be nearly as enjoyable as it is. The Prowler
remains today a great slasher film because Zito's direction and Savini's effects elevate the film above its cliché story. Those viewers nostalgic for a time when makeup was real and not a digital effect will get high enjoyment from this unseen slasher gem.
Blue Underground presents the film in its original, uncut 1.85:1 widescreen ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The transfer looks quite good, with only a couple short scenes of moderate grain and blemishes. This is a very dark film, and owners of the VHS will remember how the final portions were nearly incomprehensible. Thankfully, this transfer is lighter and sharper, and everything can be seen clearly. The film's colors are a tad under saturated and the portions in the shower scene look fairly soft (this was ironically the same complaint many had with Zito's other slasher, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
). Admittedly I was expecting a little more from the transfer, but this is still definitely the best the film has ever looked.
The original English mono track is presented here and it sounds fairly clear. There were a few times where the dialogue was a bit quite, but this is probably due to the film's low budget. The track is nothing fancy, but it serves the film just fine.
Fans have been campaigning for an audio commentary of this film for years, and Blue Underground has finally answered our pleas and rounded up both Joseph Zito and Tom Savini for a feature length commentary. The track is excellent, and both participants are very well prepared (Zito even wrote out pages of trivia that he brought to the recording session) and they have a ton of fun. These guys have worked together many times, and their friendship and joking manner really makes this track a joy to listen to. Zito talks about props he hated in the film, shooting locations and even reveals that he still owns the Pamela Voorhees tombstone from his Friday the 13th
Tom Savini's Behind-the-Scenes Gore Footage has also been included, and although it runs only 9 minutes, it is as enjoyable as the commentary. It gives an up close look at the production and how some of Savini's masterful makeup effects were achieved. Nearly every gore scene in the film is shown here, and this footage is the Holy Grail for Savini aficionados. The theatrical trailer is also included, but since it shows the infamous shotgun blast to the head sequence, it is best left viewed after the film.
The final supplement is a Poster & Still Gallery that contains 50 pictures entailing the films marketing and Savini's effects work. There are some great pictures here, like an add for a double-bill with Schizoid and posters featuring the film's other title, Rosemary's Killer
. Blue Underground has put plenty of work into the supplements on this disc, and they were well worth the effort.
is an expertly crafted, if still cliché, film that has managed to become remembered as one of the slasher genre's finest moments. The commentary and Savini's gore footage are a horror fan's dream, and coupled along with the film's anamorphic transfer make this disc well worth its price tag. Nostalgic horror fans need to make sure that The Prowler
finds its way onto their DVD player.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - B+
Sound - C
Supplements - A-
- Running time - 1 hour 28 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Mono
- Commentary by Director Joseph Zito and Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini.
- Tom Savini's Behind-The-Scenes Gore Footage
- Poster & Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer