The Prowler

The Prowler

Back in the eighties one of the unsung secrets of the horror video scene was the little seen shocker 'Rosemary's Killer' (aka 'The Prowler'). Widely available for rent in many UK video shops, horror fans in the know keenly sought out copies to view the welcome collaboration of Joseph Zito and splatter king Tom Savini. Following that initial underground interest the film seemed to disappear from not only the video shop shelves but from the attention of the genre fan, that was until Blue Underground announced that it would be one of their debut release titles. Now more than twenty years later, a whole new generation of horror fans can discover the slasher sleeper gem that is 'The Prowler'

As the film opens (back in 1945) we see a newsreel about the return of the surviving American soldiers following the end of the second world war, but one of these poor guys is about to read his 'dear john' letter of rejection from his sweetheart Rosemary. We then cut to the Avalon Bay Graduation Dance where said Rosemary is snuggling up outside the ballroom with her new beau when a mysterious masked man in black garrotes them both violently with a pitch fork shovel! The plot swiftly jumps to some 35 years later and the young folk of Avalon Bay are preparing for their first Graduation Dance since that murderous day back in the forties. Now of course, I don't even need to try tell you where this film is heading next surely? Well to be sure we've seen it all countless times before…overage actors playing at being reckless teenagers, partying, fornicating and as ever in the slasher movie just 'asking for it' from their silent but deadly ever present assailant. And yes, 'The Prowler' does play the template of the slasher movie to the bone (the red herrings and the false start jump frights are all present too) and as ever the multitude of fans of this particular genre (of which I proudly include myself) will be wildly happy with this welcome addition to their burgeoning library.

But with so many slasher movies out there what makes 'The Prowler' stand out and justify your deserved attention? Well once we break through the basic regulation genre plot (the only thing original it offers is the plot setting opening sequence) you'll find that the real stars of the show are not in fact the story or even the actors but the collaborative work of director Joseph Zito and effects guru Tom Savini. Zito confidently keeps the pace flowing, carefully building the suspense levels and priming you for 'the fright' with great confidence. He also very welcomingly opens the door for the legendary Savini to take centre stage whenever the blood needs to flow, allowing him to deliver some of perhaps his most classic (more so in their beautiful simplicity) gore set pieces without having to worry about quick cut editing for all us splatter fans to savour his work.

So while you will find that this is by no means the most original of slasher films, you will take great pleasure in going along that well traveled journey of nostalgic frights and blood drenched grue!

The print here on this Blue Underground release is perhaps the best it has looked to date, although at times it looks quite soft (with a minor sheen of grain visible) most folk should be more than satisfied with what is present. The 2 channel mono audio track is clear and problem free but you may find that you'll have to crank up the volume level after the opening titles sequence for maximum audio clarity.

Very welcomingly the winning combination of Zito and Savini pop up for a full running audio commentary of the main feature. Zito does come across quite dry discussing the films production but informs of some fascinating facts about its background, Savini on the other hand is always a welcome narrator who enthusiastically talks us through his set piece effects sequences.

Elsewhere on the extras front, we get a nice 10 minute sequence titled 'Tom Savini's Gore Footage' which is pretty much some random on set footage of Savini's kill scenes. Basic stuff and very raw but I loved it (though additional Savini commentary for this segment would have made it perfect). There's also a nice four minute trailer for the movie that the uninitiated could easily mistake for a Friday the 13th trailer and finally there's a mouth watering comprehensive stills collection of press materials, effects shots and cuttings for the film also.

Sure at the end of the day 'The Prowler' is very much the bastard nephew of the 'Friday the 13th' that no one seems to talk about, but like Blue Underground I think it's time fans of the slasher genre rediscovered this bloody gem again. You know what you're getting, so you should also know that you should pick this up. Nice one!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Blue Underground
Region All - NTSC
Not Rated
Ratio - 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Extras :
Audio commentary, Gore footage, Theatrical trailer, Stills gallery