Thursday 21 July 2011

The Prowler [1981]

THE PROWLER is an American slasher movie that was directed by Joseph Zito and originally released in November 1981.  It stars Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman and Farley Granger.  Like practically every slasher flick you care to name, this one features another masked killer terrorising another group of students who are arranging another annual ball.  On this occasion the killer wears combat fatigues and his weapon of choice is a pitchfork or, if he's travelling light, an Army-issue bayonet.

This movie has something of a reputation as being one of the most brutal slashers around and I'd have to concur.  The death scenes do have a unflinching sadism which lift it above most others (or plunges it into the depths, depending on your outlook): they seem to prolong the suffering of the victims long after most directors would have cut away.  Frankly it's just as well because the rest of the film is pretty unmemorable.  There's the customary flashback opener, the customary party preparations, the customary lovers tiffs and so on.

The Prowler attacks!

RESERVOIR DOGS Lawrence Tierney has a wordless cameo as a wheelchair-bound red herring and the late Farley Granger plays a kindly old copper who goes off on holiday, leaving his gormless deputy in charge.  The big reveal comes as no big surprise but there are one or two shock moments still in store after the final whistle, so to speak.  Not brilliant then, but worth seeing and probably in the second rank of slashers.

Farley Granger as Sheriff Fraser

Lawrence Tierney as Major Chatham

It's difficult to say much about THE PROWLER that I haven't already said about a number of other slasher flicks; look those up and I promise you most of what I say about them is equally applicable to this one.  There's dancing, there's necking, there's swimming, there's showering and there's stabbing. That's pretty much all of yer slasher boxes ticked right there.

Sometimes you get showering and stabbing...

and sometimes you get swimming and stabbing.  Very versatile these slashers.

Aside from the aforementioned veterans there is literally no-one in the cast whom I have heard of.  A different story with the crew though.  Joseph Zito directed several successful genre pictures including the Chuck Norris actioners (is there any other type of Cuck Norris picture?) MISSING IN ACTION [1984] and INVASION USA [1985] and the misleadingly titled FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER [1984].  Likewise, cinematographer Joao Fernandes worked on a lot of Chuck Norris pictures without ever crossing into mainstream Hollywood productions.  The band that plays at the graduation ball is credited as Nowhere Fast but their lead singer looks an awful lot like Graham Parker.  The final thing to mention is that the special effects and make-up are the work of the slasher movie go-to guy Tom Savini.

Tom Savini's excellent effects / make up work.

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