Friday, April 7, 2017

Film Review: The Prowler (1981)

The Prowler (Review)
United States/1981
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"This is one of the better slashers—past and present."

A violent killer—wearing a military uniform—stalks and murders a group of students at a graduation party...

The Prowler starts off at the end of World War 2 as Rosemary Chatham sends a Dear John letter to her boyfriend, breaking up with him due to his long absence in her life. During a graduation ball, Rosemary and her new boyfriend are brutally murdered. Fast forward 35 years and Pam MacDonald is organizing the first graduation ball in the city since the murders. Of course, it doesn't take long until the students start dying—picked off one-by-one. Most of the film focuses on Pam and Deputy Mark London (Christopher Goutman) as they attempt to find the prowler... while said prowler kills off Pam's friends. It's a simple plot, but it does have some interesting characters. The motive behind the antagonist's rampage is certainly compelling. It leads to a very bloody ending. Some parts of the ending are unusual, but it's solid.

This is actually my first time watching The Prowler and, I must say, I thought it was great. Like I said, the story is simple but effective. Most of the characters are likable, too, so it makes the murders more effective. Speaking of murders, this film has some of the most brutal death scenes in the genre. It's not drenched in blood from beginning to end, but most of the deaths really resonate due to the brutality. I've watched some of the most extreme films and I wasn't even expecting some of these. It also helps that there is some great suspense and atmosphere in this film. It's tense and dreary. It is, however, a bit contrived. It's often contrived just to try to throw you off. Really, the antagonist's identity is predictable either way. There are also a few moments where the pacing slows to a halt.

The acting was great. I'd say this cast was better than most slasher casts. Christopher Goutman and Vicky Dawson performed well as the leads. The supporting cast was good, too. The film looked great. I liked the cinematography and camerawork. If you're a fan of practical special effects, you're going to love this film—the effects are great. The music was also good. It won't stick with you like other iconic soundtracks, but I liked it. The film was directed by Joseph Zito and written by Neal Barbera and Glenn Leopold. The film could have used some fine-tuning to cut out some of the fat, but it's otherwise good. Zito knows how to craft an effective slasher using suspense, atmosphere, and violence.

Overall, The Prowler is a great horror film. It's brutal, tense, and even compelling. This is one of the better slashers—past and present. If you're a fan of the genre, this is a must-watch.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some nudity.

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