There was always something about "The Prowler" that made it stand out among the other 80's slashers. It's a fun and scary movie that features some of F/X maestro Tom Savini's most gruesome work. The small town setting, the sprawling mansion and dorm, the innovative backstory all create a great atmosphere. The actual menacing figure of the Prowler himself is just down right creepy, and the unique kills involving a pitchfork, a bayonette and other sharp instruments will keep horror fans happy. The DVD treatment is fantastic, and I really enjoyed Tom Savini's behind the scenes look at some of the great effects. If you are a fan of the horror genre then this movie is a must see. The only two drawbacks to the film; the Prowler looks menacing, but he doesn't instill that sense of dread Jason or Michael posess. And the musical score is kind of flat, not really helping to build suspense, just a trilling violin that kind of gets in the way. But those two minor complaints shouldn't keep you from enjoying a great old-school slasher. And by the way....why do so many people who have reviewed this movie feel the need to give away the entire story? I mean if you are not sure what "The Prowler" is about...just look at the DVD cover art....there aren't too many folks out there that will think this is a romantic comedy!! If you aren't familiar with this movie, don't read further reviews some of which contain quite a few spoilers!
on July 20, 2003
Joseph Zito's relentlessly cruel THE PROWLER is one of the very few memorable films to have emerged from the vast wasteland of 80's era slasher cycle crud. Like THE BURNING and MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE PROWLER tells an undeniably cliche ridden tale but compensates with memorable characters, decent production values, a surprisingly effective musical score and, of course, some of the most inventive and grotesquely realistic murder sequences in the genre. In fact, this may very well be the most violent movie of its ilk ever made. Despite its ferocious gore, this film somehow managed to get an uncensored theatrical release (with an obviously bogus "R" rating).
While there are no real surprises on hand for the horror aficionado, THE PROWLER is so slickly filmed by real craftsmen that it naturally has instant appeal as one of the only competently directed and watchable movies of its kind. If there is such a thing as a "classic" slasher, THE PROWLER is surely one.
The Blue Underground DVD is a highly recommended purchase for fans of this terrific little gorefest. The film is presented in widescreen format (1.85:1) in a nice, colorful transfer, looking much better than it ever has before. Disc extras include trailers, a poster/stills gallery and a fun but brief behind-the-scenes videotaped look at Tom Savini's awesome makeup effects. Best bonus of all is an occasionally raucous audio commentary by Savini and director Joseph Zito, in which the two apparent friends share informative and entertaining tidbits about the film's often chaotic production.
on August 22, 2014
This lesser-known slasher film was the ultra-violent movie of its time, brandishing more gore and "visible" kills than others of its era. This will please seasoned admirers of 70s and 80s slashers. ALTERNATE TITLE: I believe that this is titled Rosemary's Killer in the UK and Australia.
The year was 1945; it was a time of war. After receiving a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend Rosemary, a soldier with a wounded heart returns home and goes on a killing spree. 35 years later, a (perhaps new) killer wearing WWII regalia begins slaughtering youngsters on the weekend of their Graduation Dance before he even changes out of his military greens. And, following in the most typical and dated of horror tropes, once the kids spike the punch bowl and start touching each others' fun parts prior to saying their "I do's" the killing can commence.
The acting is bad and the story runs way too slowly, but after the dragging lulls of plot we are rewarded with satisfying (for the era) death scenes that should please seasoned lovers of the classics but which may leave youngsters who grew up on the Final Destination films wanting quite a bit more out of their kills.
The gore is "simple" by today's standards, and representative of Tom Savini's early work. But hey, make no mistake, it was the 80s and before horror ever had much of an effects budget. For its time this was REALLY GORY! And what's really impressive is that you can see the penetration of the weapon into the victim during the kill scenes instead of a shot of a knife, a shot of a screaming victim, and a shot of blood spraying on the wall.
At the time of its release this was the equivalent of what we now call "ultra-violent." The style of the kills in this film predates the commonality of "fun" kills in horror, but there's still some good diversity including a couple getting collectively stabbed by a pitchfork while making out, someone getting stabbed all the way through the skull and then having it wrenched back out, someone's head is blown to chunky bits before our eyes, and there's a delightfully drawn out and gory shower kill.
The clichés abound but…wait a sec, here…as I watch I actually realize that this movie is so old in the history of slasher flicks that at the time things like murderer POV shots, the all-too-cool killer "walking" after his victims who just can't seem to outrun him because of stumbles and locked doors and dropped keys and jammed doors, the killer suddenly "appears" in places to which he couldn't possibly have moved in the allowed time and circumstances, and of course (VERY, VERY long) shower scenes weren't even tired out clichés yet.
So the moral of the story here is, ladies, don't send any of our troops a "Dear John" letter until your absolutely certain that you're not in a horror movie! Otherwise, you and the next generation may be in for an unpleasant surprise at your next school dance.
on February 24, 2003
In Australia and the United Kingdom too I think, this movie is called Rosemary's Killer. In America it is ofcourse called the Prowler. I personally like the title Rosemary's Killer better. I just bought an ex rental of the movie and unfortunately is not the best of copies but it is better than nothing. I can't say what the DVD is like because I haven't seen it, but I have seen the movie. I recommend it a lot. It is one of the best horror films out there. It was made when horror films were in their prime. Back in the early eighties when they were turning them out like sausages.
The story is about a young woman who is dating a GI and she writes him a letter ending their relationship. The soldier returns home from World War II and he finds his girlfriend and her new lover in a gazebo and impales them on a pitchfork.
Jump to 35 years into the future and a graduation day is coming up.For some reason this triggers Rosemary's Killer into action again and more murders occur. The killer sticks a knife through the top of a man's head, pitchforks another in a shower, almost severs the head of a girl in a pool. The special effects are great, I would go so far as to say they are the best. They are created by Tom Savini who is much better at horror effects than he is at acting.
Just before the murders occur the sheriff tells his deputy that he is going on a fishing trip.Then the murders start occuring. The only person that could have been old enough in the picture to have done the murders of Rosemary and her new boyfriend was one man.Once you got that down the identity of the killer is pretty obvious although I will say when I found out it did shock me even though it should've been obvious to me. I must have been caught up in the movie.This movie is more gory than the Friday the 13ths, even the final chapter. I don't understand why the Friday the 13ths should be cut more if they were than this.So maybe would have been considered less popular and therefore didn't bother to censor it as much.
I agree with one review. It is not clear what the reason is for the killer to start killing again. Maybe it is simply a graduation.
Be warned-this movie is how it should be. It is a little slow in some places, but the gore makes up for that.
on September 13, 2014
Dear John, I have needs and you're not here....................
It's 1944, there's a graduation ball and a lovely couple in a gazebo pitching woo when some yahoo decides to make that a tad too literal. Jump to 1980 (a fun year) when they decide to have another graduation ball. Wouldn't you know it, someone happens to have an old G.I. uniform lying around and decides to put it on and run amok. Where can you turn when some maniac with a sword in after you!? Thank goodness there's a deputy (Christopher Goutman) with a great sense of duty willing to jump on the case and ferret out the culprit. Well, actually he doesn't, but it wasn't for want of trying!
This is a fun little opus in the slasher genre. What it lacks in subtly it more than makes up for with the hubris of the few kills it features throughout its 89 minutes. This is an old favorite of mine and likely to remain so. They truly don't make them like this anymore. More's the pity.
on October 14, 2013
I had the DVD version of this movie. The rare unrated version DVD of this too. I sold my DVD when I got the Blu-ray edition. I can say when comparing the 2, the Blu-ray version is much better than the DVD version, despite the fact of what some reviewer said on here about it. The kills are pretty awesome, and the gore is great. this movie scared the hell out of me when I first saw it. It does get a little slow in the middle of the movie, but I still liked the movie a lot. I thought the translation to Blu-ray was really well done. Great cast, good acting, and good movie. I highly recommend this one to anyone that liked rare, good, 80's horror/slasher films. 4.5 out of 5
on August 20, 2014
Another slasher movie from 1981, I know what you're thinking "*groan* Another film about a masked killer & a scantily clad female heroine." However, this film is classy, brutal, kinda "run of the mill", but a few twists, & what not. Here is, "The Prowler"...
Plot: At the end of WW2 a trooper receives a letter from his beloved, Rosemary. Rosemary couldn't wait for him, so she's moved on. June 28th, 1945, the night of the graduation dance; Rosemary & her lover, are killed by said trooper. He's gone mad due to his love for Rosemary. From then & there on, no graduation dances were held. 35 years later, 1980, the town is holding a graduation dance. The prowler has returned, the body count is rising, & it's up to Mark & Pam, to solve the mystery, & kill the killer...
If "The Prowler" sounds familiar, then it's because it borrows a similar plot from "My Bloody Valentine" (1981). In My Bloody Valentine, several miners become trapped, due to the leaving of two supervisors. Te 7 miners are found 2-3 weeks later, 6 of which are dead, as Harry Warden (the only survivor) ate his coworkers for survival. Deemed unstable, Harry is locked away in an institution, 1 year later he returned, killed the 2 supervisors. Harry sent a letter, basically, never have another Valentine's Day dance or else kill, kill, death, death. However in My Bloody Valentine the killer was suspected to be Harry Warden, but it turned out it wasn't him. As for The Prowler the killer becomes obvious half way through, leaving the mystery solving scenes of our characters to be rather dull. One other issue is the actress who played Pam, at times gives a very bland performance. Everyone else gives a good performance. The prowler, dressed in army fatigues, & rather killing very brutally, is creepy, & disturbing. Strangely the audience garners a little sympathy for the killer, as clearly the dance evoked the horrible memory, which caused our titular killer, to well, kill. The film does have genuine suspense, creepy, & atmospheric scenes, particularly a scene in a graveyard is the most atmospheric. The film also has Joseph Zito (Friday the 13th the final chapter) helming the film, with Tom Savini doing effects work. Savini regards it as his best work (which it is good, but I think Day o the Dead (1985) is his best work). You have you're usual stabbings, & carvings, but here they're done very savagely, the killer, even kicks one of his victims back down, & then sneaks up, & kills them. What makes the killer believable is that he was in the army, giving him the knowledge of the body's weakest points. Speaking of which, The Prowler is what you'd get if you would've taken First Blood & spliced it with My Bloody Valentine. The score is also great, & has its own atmospheric quality. My one true issue with the film, is the "shock" ending, which isn't our killer returning mind you. It (obviously) occurs right before the end credits, & feels tacked on. Although it has its faults (it drags a little here & there), I still find The Prowler, an enjoyable slasher flick. Some of which may ave to do with nostalgia. As the first time I saw it, I was at my friends house with he, & his mother. The 3 of us sat & watched, The Prowler, which I enjoyed then. The only thing I could recall about it however was the chase between Pam & the prowler. More specifically the scene with the room which had furniture covered with white sheets.
Fun Facts: Alternate titles- Rosemary's Killer, & The Pitchfork of Death. The Prowler was released as Rosemary's Killer in Australia and Europe, and is missing almost a minute of Tom Savini's gore effects. The German version omits all of the gore scenes (including the revelation of the killer's identity) and replaced the soundtrack with bird sounds for daytime scenes, cricket sounds for the night scenes, and Richard Einhorn's score with synthesizer music by an uncredited musician. This version goes by the title Die Forke des Todes (The Pitchfork of Death).
Movie Rating-3.9/5 stars Disc/DVD Rating-5/5
Behind the Scenes
on March 6, 2014
This is not a Black Christmas clone, Halloween clone, or a Friday the 13th clone. It's a very memorable story that seems original and sticks with you years after you first see it. This is surprising considering 1981 was the year of its release and the year more slasher flicks came out than any other.
A whole host of decent slice n’ dicers that served as some of the better examples of this exploitative entertainment in its displays of grisly deaths and naked female flesh came out this year. ‘The Funhouse’, Friday the 13th Part 2, ‘The Burning’, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, Halloween II and especially ‘My Bloody Valentine’ were just some of the real standouts here.
That last title has much in common with this film. They share a much similar set up entailing the return of once banned dance celebrations due to killings that were committed on those days many years ago only for a bloody trial of mass murder to start up when the celebratory events return - Valentine’s Day (obviously) and Graduation Day in their respective films. They are also both tales revolving around scorned lovers. ‘The Prowler’ is not as strong a movie as the former stated though. It has bland characterization especially from the two leads Pam MacDonald (Vicky Dawson) and Mark London (Christopher Goutman) making for zero chemistry between the two potential lovers trying to solve the mysterious case of “the prowler”. It also has a frustratingly slow burn pace. ‘My Bloody Valentine’ excels with these two elements as being one of the very finest slashers ever made.
However, what makes ‘The Prowler’ noteworthy is that director Joseph Zito employs a very moody atmosphere, it is well shot with some gorgeous cinematography for a film of its ilk by Raoul Lomas and I think with more contribution from João Fernandes who is uncredited here and the musical score is filled with dread to a supreme effect. Above all else though, the big achievement here is the fantastic special make-up effects from maestro Savini.
In what is his very best work outside the two George A. Romero zombie epics he worked on - ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978) and ‘Day of the Dead’ (1985) - the man himself considers it his absolute best work full stop. Personally, I disagree as I think ‘Day’ is his finest moment in his career - an SFX opus that is his masterwork. I am not though taking anything away from Tom Savini here as really this movie belongs to him. This is an area where ‘The Prowler’ beats ‘My Bloody Valentine’ hands down. Taking entire days to film the shooting schedule was built around executing these set-pieces that are some of the most gruesome and realistic mean spirited death sequences ever filmed. These are not the quick hack n’ slash then cut to the next scene we are used to with stalk and slash movies but are far more prolonged drawn out affairs making us watch every excruciatingly explicit graphic detail of the victims’ demise. The killer has a very intimidating presence decked out in World War II combat gear with a hood covering his face dispatching his prey with a bayonet knife and unrelated to his military background oddly enough a long pitchfork.
The movie offers much here to keep us invested in what is ultimately a worthwhile watch. For the gorehound horror fans this is a must see and it is also essential viewing for the Friday the 13th faithful. Zito, Fernandes and Savini would team up again for the very similar toned Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) the very best entry of that franchise. The sombre atmosphere, attractive cinematography, chilling score, the grand spectacle of the goretastic special effects make-up, the great look of the killer, non-grating victims and a haunting 'Carrie' like jump scare final scene make ‘The Prowler’ one of the highlight slasher films of 1981. Recommended.
on January 30, 2016
This 1981 slasher opens up in 1945 as soldiers are coming home from the war and we hear a young woman reading a ‘dear John’ break-up letter intended for a boyfriend away on duty. We cut to Avalon Bay which is having it’s annual college graduation dance and a young couple leave the dance for a romantic walk but, their romance is cut short by someone dressed as a combat-ready soldier who promptly runs the embracing couple through with a pitch fork, leaving a rose in the female victim’s hand. We then pick our story up in 1980 where the Avalon Bay Graduation Dance is being revived after having been halted 35 years earlier by the father of the murdered girl, Major Chatham (Lawrence Tierney). But, someone is reviving another activity from that night, as a killer dressed in military gear descends on the partying co-eds with bayonet and pitchfork and starts leaving a bloody trail of bodies and roses behind. Can sweet Pam (Vicky Dawson) and her deputy boyfriend Mark (Christopher Goutman) stop this deranged killer or will they join his list of victims?
Directed by Joe Zito, who is mostly known for directing the fourth Friday The 13th flick and two of Chuck Norris’ biggest hits Missing In Action and Invasion U.S.A., this bloody slasher follows the 80s slasher format very well. We get a bunch of nubile young intended victims being stalked by an unbalanced killer with a grudge who, is dispatching them in gruesome and versatile fashion. We also get a pretty young heroine to serve as our ‘final girl’ and the doomed slutty girls who’ll show us their boobs! Zito also manages to serve up some suspense and some tension too. He’s not the most stylish director but, his directing here is far less by the numbers then his Norris action flicks. And there is some decent cinematography from frequent Zito D.O.P. João Fernandes. The horror genre seems to suit Zito better then his generic action movies. The film has some atmosphere, a touch of Scooby-Doo-ish mystery and it is an entertaining 90 minutes of horror that represents the era well. It’s not perfect, we really aren’t given enough suspects or red herrings to make it really interesting though, when we do get the big reveal it is still kind of a surprise. And we never really get to know the victims all that well so, their deaths have little impact other than Tom Savini’s still effective gore FX.
The cast are fine even though we only really get to know Pam and Mark but, Dawson and Goutman make them likable enough. The rest are generic horny college kids who are there to be victims and they serve that purpose well. Vet Tierney doesn’t get to have any lines despite the film implying he’s a suspect so, not sure why they even hired a name actor for the part.
In conclusion, The Prowler isn’t a great film, certainly not in the same league as Friday The 13th or even Halloween II but, it is a solid enough slasher and is a fun and nostalgic sample of the type of film made in the early 80s before films like Evil Dead, Scanners, Re-Animator and A Nightmare On Elm Street took horror in new directions. A fun, gory example of what made 80s slashers fun. Extra credit for filming in my home stomping ground of New Jersey!
on October 17, 2014
I knew what I was getting with this movie, having seen it before. Its a better than average 1980's slasher film with stellar gore effects from Tom Savini. In fact Savini's effects are the selling point here. Joseph Zito delivers an effective film, bbut the gore is the point. Worth having in any gorehound's collection. Having said all that about the film itself....My review is a heads up for blu ray horror shoppers. I can't recommend Blue Underground's Blu Ray release. Overall a disappointing release. No extras to speak of and the commentary is lifted from the DVD release.They did little to clean up the print , I think the picture looks worse than I remember it looking on DVD. Grainy and dirty. Picture quality not at all what I spend money on a blu ray for. Disappointing because I expected more from Blue Underground. My advice if you plan on buying the PROWLER, is pick up the DVD for $3.00-$4.00. Don't bother wasting money on the blu ray. Fortunately I only paid about $10.