Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 7 - The Prowler [1981]

The Prowler (1981)
Director: Joseph Zito
Starring: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Farley Granger

The Prowler is one of those movies I've heard mentioned favourably a lot among horrorphile circles, but which I've just never gotten around to watching. It's an effective slasher from 1981. Same year and same genre as Graduation Day, which I watched a few nights back, but The Prowler leaves that movie for dead, if you'll excuse the pun.

The storyline starts out with a murder at a graduation dance in 1945, then jumps forward to 1980, where the first graduation dance since that fateful night is about to take place. A murderer dressed from head to toe in army gear (complete with helmet and full face mask) goes on a rampage, killing teens in a number of inventive ways. Could it be the same guy from 35 years ago or a new maniac?

Now, The Prowler is no classic, but it's an effective and entertaining slasher. What really stands out from the million other slasher flicks from the late 70s and early 80s is its gore. The blood is splashed thick and fast, with the murderer using a pitchfork, knife and shotgun to good effect. A couple of the kills are extremely gory - one with a knife through the top of the head is especially cringeworthy. No surprise then that the incomparable Tom Savini (Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead etc) was responsible for the special effects.

Sometimes actors remind me of other actors, and that happened here with the two leads. Christopher Goutman, who plays the Deputy, bore an uncanny resemblence to Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins), while female lead Vicky Dawson reminded me a lot of Amy Steel from Friday the 13th part 2 (which coincidentally came out the same year as The Prowler).

The Prowler definitely gets a thumbs up from me, and while it doesn't rate up there with my favourite slashers, like Halloween, Friday the 13th and Black Christmas, it definitely comes close.

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