Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Prowler

I watched this little gem a few days ago after remembering that it made that “100 Scariest Moments” show on TV not too long ago. Another reason I wanted to view this flick was because the special effects were done by the master himself, Tom Savini.

Mr. Savini has worked on a lot of classics, both behind the camera and in front of the camera—sometimes both.

On George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Tom Savini created and supervised the creation of all the gore effects and makeup of the zombies. He’s also included in the film as a character—one of the bikers that come into the mall. As most of you know, Mr. Savini did the makeup and gore effects for Friday the 13TH and Friday the 13TH: The Final Chapter. He’s also directed the remake of Night of the Living Dead in 1990 ad has had bit parts in Tarantino films and the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Anyway, I’d always heard of The Prowler and wanted to see it just for Mr. Savini’s showcased effects.

So, about a year ago I looked up the film on the Netflix web site and to my surprise, the film showed up on the non-released column of the queue. It stayed there for almost a year—I don’t know why. But like I said, a few days ago it showed up in the mail and I waited until dark to get the full effect of the film. Basically, I tried to get into the great 1980s horror film mood.

I was impressed with it.

A few scenes were kind of cheesy, especially the dance hall scenes complete with an early ‘80s rock band playing some songs that I’ve never heard of before.

The killer’s garb was pretty original and memorable, the heroine was your typical 1980s horror movie female protagonist as she followed the rules to survive a horror movie ordeal (being a virgin and no sex or drugs), the girls were your average slutty girls that took their clothes off easily, you had the strange guy that worked at the local store, the quiet old man that lives across from the college dorm (for girls)…and just the feel of the community is your typical scenic ‘80s town.

Anyhoot, the story starts with scenes of our boys in the military coming back from overseas during World War II, complete with a radio announcer explaining everything. We then see a letter that was written to someone in the military from a girl that’s basically breaking up with the guy.

The film then cuts to the graduation dance of 1945 and we see a lot of GI’s with their girls, attending the festivities. One such couple breaks off and goes to a nearby makeout point only to be killed by a military clothed individual, using a long knife. We can’t see this guy’s face because he wears some chemical warfare mask that hides his face…which makes this horror movie killer one of the coolest looking ones during that time. Remember, this film was made before Friday the 13TH Part 2 so Jason Voorhees wasn’t even running around with his potato sack yet.

Well, the movie then fades to present day (circa 1980) and we see that the college dance hall is getting decorated for that year’s graduation dance. Seems that the locals think it’s a bad idea seeing that it’s the first time they’ve had a graduation dance since the murders in 1945.

As luck turns out, there was a robbery the next town over that ended up with someone getting butchered and the local sheriff and young deputy are making sure they keep a lookout for this maniac on the loose. As an added bonus, this is the day that the sheriff goes on his weekend fishing trip and he has to leave the deputy in charge of the small town.

Lo and behold, the killer does show up and commits a few murders in stunning fashion, thanks to the wizardry of the aforementioned Tom Savini. The effects still hold up and look pretty real and gruesome to this day.

Like I said, it’s an entertaining 1980s horror film and it’s a pretty good story with above average acting for its ilk. The film was actually directed by Joseph Zito who had directed Friday the 13TH: The Final Chapter just a mere 4 years later. And the music score is pretty similar to Harry Manfredini’s score of Friday the 13TH, but it’s composed by a different music writer.

So back to the film…

Most people can guess who the killer is before he’s revealed and it’s because of all the movies that followed this film way back when, so we became accustomed to the formula that these films follow. Still, the flick is a good time.

My final “bit” on The Prowler? If you want to relive a little 1980s nostalgia and be reminded of how entertaining the horror films of that time were, I’d pick this baby up at the local Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Red Box or Netflix and pop it in. If not…you’re loss.