When it takes you this long to see The Prowler, a movie of such superior slasher movie quality, you simply have one thing to say for yourself: “DOH!” How does a horror fan, nay, a fan of good slasher movies go thirty years… make that twenty five years if we truly take into account the R Rated movie watching era of my life… to see a film of this caliber. I am struck dumb and ashamed. I will say “Hail Mary’s” and flail myself later about the whole god damn thing. For let me geek out on you for a bit.
For now I have to say that I still love Tom Savini. I still think he’s a mad genius and I can’t imagine the things that he’s seen that allowed him to create such wonderful head explosions all these years. When it comes to The Prowler we are talking about some of the best kill sequences in film history. This isn’t due to realism. This isn’t due to the effects being especially believable. This isn’t an example of the grossest thing you’ll ever have seen in your movie watching career (cause if it is… we have such sights to show you). When I say best, I mean a fun time for the whole family or at least those over the age of seventeen that have been given their parents’ permission if accompanied there by. Few movies have kill sequences that clearly could involve either audience participation or laughter followed by applause. Grindhouse had a few of those. Plenty of Friday the 13th’s or Nightmares did. Return of the Living Dead. Evil Dead. Anything the guys at Exhumed Films find for the 24 Hour Marathon. This movie is up there with the best for entertaining end of life moments.
The director of this picture, Joseph Zito, is responsible for a few other classic pictures. Most notably, Missing in Action(Chuck Norris wants you to see The Prowler), Invasion USA (Chuck Norris saw the Prowler for you and told you that you liked it) and Friday-the fucking-13th: The Final-fucking-Chapter (Chuck Norris plays Corey Feldman playing Tommy Jarvis AND Ted White playing Jason Voorhees at the same time and battles himself because Chuck Norris is a metaphor for every man, good and evil). Critics may have given The Prowler the rub saying it was slow and predictable but that’s because Chuck Norris wanted you to hate the critics. Also, this movie was apparently massacred by the censors in Australia taking out all the “good parts” so that pretty much means no gore/blood… hopefully a boobie made its way in. You know why? Chuck Norris didn’t want the Kangaroos to be scared of The Prowler because Chuck Norris fucking loves Kangaroos.
The blood is THAT color red. You know THAT color, right? It’s not Herschel Gordon Lewis pink/red Crayola. It’s not syrupy dark Hershey (not to be confused with Herschell… we’re talking chocolate syrup folks). It’s not translucent slime like blood. It’s red blood #5. It’s the blood the sprays and splatters. This blood has the thickness of oil paint and probably takes paint thinner to get it off your skin and latex appliances or pitch fork or sawed off shotgun or K-bar. This blood is like thick lathery paint that can protect you from sun poisoning and might even smell of the Jersey shore. Playtex never contemplated this blood when making tampons. Maxi didn’t bring this kind of stuff in the lab while developing their super super super absorbant pad. This is the blood that dreams are made of or painted with. It’s Santa Claus red without the holiday. Camp Movie Blood. ‘Nuff Said.
The Prowler is about… what am I saying? You’ve already seen the movie. I’m the only one who hadn’t seen this fucking picture up this point. You know all those trailers? The ones they show at horror movie marathons and appear on VHS tapes before your favorite 1980’s shocker, stunner, have-more-funner? Yeah, I saw those too. I saw that guy in the WW2 outfit with masked face, various implements of micro destruction at his disposal. I ignore them all. Let’s face it… this one is slasher picture about a guy who kills young men and women, usually post-coitus or during bathing or when you expect it the most (not the least). The difference between this slasher flick and the others is the quality of film. Quality ofback story. Attention to the audience’s experience rather than on artistic vision. What you have to realize is when Tom Savini makes an effect he wants you, the audience, to feel it too. That’s why there’s that slurping sound when The Prowler removes the knife from that poor schmucks head. That’s why that miserable bastards eyes roll back white (homage to Jaws?). You’ll feel your brains penetrated by a knife and your head will tilt back with anticipation. If Tom Savini calls this some of his best stuff then you know it’s a quality flick. Penetrating even.
Plot (for real this time, but also from Wikipedia because summarizing this is like summarizing a pile of rubberneckers):
“In 1945, a World War II veteran returns home to Avalon Bay, New Jersey to find a "Dear John letter" left by his girlfriend. He then murders her and her new boyfriend at the graduation dance. Thirty-five years later, at the first dance since the killings, the murderer is back, decked out in battledress and with an assortment of weapons, to kill again. Meanwhile, Sheriff George Fraser is on his annual fishing trip and has left the town to his deputy Mark London, who investigates the killings with his (almost) girlfriend, Pam MacDonald.”
So we really need to use the word “(almost)” to describe Pam MacDonald’s relationship to Mark London… on Wikipedia. This is why we love user generated content. I hope that was from the back of the VHS box. Oh and try not to steal too much from De Palma and Carrie Joseph Zito. These false, dead waking up, jump scares at the end… its cliché even for ’81. Maybe not as cliché as Nowherefast, the band who plays three songs throughout the movie. Can somebody find me that cassette tape demo so I can jump in my Camaro with the T Tops off and brush my mullet with a thin comb? Maybe help me aqua net my chest pubes so they can stick out of my jean vest just right? Bitchin’!
Other references to the Prowler that seem completely haphazard but all show up on the Wikipedia disambiguous page: Prowler by Iron Maiden which is a doozy of a good song. Enjoy the Killers album when you get the chance because nothing says the early 80’s like Iron Maiden. Also the Plymouth Prowler which always looked the body of a daddy longs legs to me. Like somebody had a Transformer version of a car that turned into a damn pseudo-spider and then had its legs ripped right the fuck off. And beyond that… and here’s the really strange one kiddies: I know a guy… by the name of… ready… Pat Kinsley (do not stalk him… he wasn’t born when this film was made). Now I realize that the character in The Prowler is Pat Kingsley, but every time they’d call that characters name or he’d have a piece of drunken dialogue I’d give the frame the Where’s Waldo treatment for my dear friend. It truly sounds like they are saying his name. And what does that mean for you dear reader? Nothing. Just another example of Dr. Jimmy schizzing out again.
A fond adieu to you all. Especially Patrick Kin(g)sley!!! Bwahahaha :cough, cough, cough:
-Dr. Jimmy Terror
By the By, I do believe this movie would make an excellent drinking game for the Kinsley family. Every time they say your brother’s name (or almost your brother’s name that is) you take a drink.
Also, check out the latest addition of HorrorHound (the one with the amazing Friday the 13th pt 2 artwork on the cover). It’s the mag that got me to finally watch this picture. It’s a great 1981 flashback issue. Don’t miss it or my future entry on The Burning… another HorrorHound feature this month.