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The Prowler [Blu-ray]
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Avalon Bay, 1945: On the night of her graduation dance, young Rosemary and her date are 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 - but something else may have also returned Tonight, the teens of this sleepy town will meet their grisly ends at the hands - and pitchfork, blade and more - of THE PROWLER!
"Gory As All Hell!" -- Slasherpool
"Intense And Suspenseful! One Of The Better Slasher Bloodbaths!" -- Creature Feature Movie Guide
"Those With A Love For Blood And Impalings Will Not Find A More Realistic Depiction On Film!" -- Horror Digital
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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.
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.
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
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