FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 21, 2005

Day 21- Sergeant Slaughter

My 90-minute relationship with The Prowler was one of the love/hate variety. For every 10 minutes of me thinking "This movie hath verily rocked my face!", there was 10 minutes of me waving my fist at the TV screen, telling the movie: "Get more good!"

Here's the Netflix description for the movie. Read it, and if you're a savvy slasher fan, another movie will most likely spring to mind immediately:
On the night of her graduation dance in 1945, young Rosemary and her date were brutally murdered by a prowler thought to be a jilted soldier home from the war. The killer was never found. 30 years later, the dance is held again for the first time since that horrific evening, and the grads are ready to party...but once again, something terrible awaits the teens of this sleepy town.
Sound anything like My Bloody Valentine to you? Wow! Me too. Surprisingly, though, the two movies aren't as similar as they sound.

1981 was quite a year for the slasher: My Bloody Valentine, The Prowler, Friday the 13th Part 2, The Burning...lots of strong entries in the genre during its earliest days. I didn't see The Prowler in its original run- today was the first time, of course- but if I had seen it then, it probably would've scared the hell outta me and stuck in my mind.

The stalking scenes in this movie are still quite effective, and are some of the scariest I've seen since Michael Myers chased Laurie Strode across the street in Halloween. The gore effects by Tom Savini are without a doubt some of his best outside his zombie work. The killings are gruesome, particularly the knife through the top of the head and out the lower jaw bit and the exploding head. Yes, an exploding head. Gotta love Tom Savini. More than the blood on the screen, however, what makes these scenes so disturbing is that it takes a few moments for the victims to die. Instead of the stab! - eyes crossed! - dead! - variety, the victims here linger and twitch a lot. For me, this is a little off-putting, but I could be in the minority on that as far horror fans go.

So what's the "hate" in my "love/hate"ness? Well, Final Girl Pam (Vicky Dawson) encounters the killer pretty early on, so for a majority of the film we get incredibly lengthy scenes of Pam and her sheriff's deputy boyfriend Mark (Christopher Goutman) looking for clues. The scenes are silent and far too long, and they throw off the pace of the film. The victims are all fairly underdeveloped, as well.

I'd like to see a timeline of release dates for these films in 1981, to see who was ripping off whom. In The Prowler, we get some shots lifted from Friday the 13th Part 2, the most noticeable of which is a scene where Pam hides from the killer under a bed and has to keep her cool when a rat gets too close for comfort.

Director Joseph Zito and effects guru Tom Savini teamed up again in 1984 for Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. I think they should keep teaming up, as their partnerships seem to lead to some above-average slasher fare. I'll give this one 6-and-a-half out of 10 exploding heads.


Marty McKee said...

This movie moves a bit too slowly for my tastes, but the Savini effects are fantastic. The DVD commentary is a terrific listen.

Stacie Ponder said...

The parts of this that actually moved along were decent, but the rest was entirely tooooo slow. Long periods of silence, looking at a fireplace...eyes...closing..zzzzz...

Anonymous said...

I HEART The Prowler. It's one of my faves. I too noticed the similarities between this and F13P2. The lead here is good but is no Amy Steel. I also liked the geek couple who make out and... don't get killed. Nice twist. The geek boy is Thom Bray of Riptide and I just have the biggest crush on him. I actually emailed him and he wrote back, but I could tell he didn't share the same love. How cool would it be to get it on with someone who was in Prince of Darkness?

Loved the review, even if we disagree. What a way with words you have!

Amanda By Night

John Barleycorn said...

I think a whole study could be done about Friday the 13th: Part 2 and how many other movies ripped it off. Obviously The Prowler and there are many scenes in Halloween 2 that reek of potato bag Jason.

Jason Adams said...


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the scene @ the pool rocks -- best part of the movie! Ummm... FG and the commenters above might watch Twitch of the Death Nerve as Friday13pt2 was lifted almost verbatim from this film by Mario Bava. Imitation is still a true form of flattery. Love yr blog FG, I'd buy your 101 comic, but alas no cash at the moment. Would love to read a review from U of 1981's Maniac which has EFX by Tom Savini. THOU