The Prowler (1981)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 5,442 users  
Reviews: 114 user | 108 critic

A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.



, (as Neal F. Barbera) , 4 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

Free at IMDb




Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Burning (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.

Director: Tony Maylam
Stars: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

After a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of sorority sisters are stalked and murdered one by one in their sorority house while throwing a party to celebrate their graduation.

Director: Mark Rosman
Stars: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

The Basketball team is having a slumber party, but people soon start turning up dead.

Director: Amy Holden Jones
Stars: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A decades old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day, turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead.

Director: George Mihalka
Stars: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by the forest ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorising the ... See full summary »

Director: Jeff Lieberman
Stars: George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Chris Lemmon
Intruder (1989)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The overnight stock crew of a local supermarket find themselves being stalked and slashed by a mysterious maniac.

Director: Scott Spiegel
Stars: Elizabeth Cox, Renée Estevez, Dan Hicks
Pieces (1982)
Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Young co-eds are being cut up by a chainsaw killer on a college campus. The killer is attempting to put together a human jigsaw puzzle made from body parts.

Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Stars: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

At the snobby Crawford Academy, Virginia's group of friends start to go missing years after horrible events that happened to her as a child around her birthday.

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane
Terror Train (1980)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A masked killer targets six college kids responsible for a prank gone wrong three years earlier and who are currently throwing a large New Year's Eve costume party aboard a moving train.

Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Stars: Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hart Bochner
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A group of stage actors lock themselves in the theater for a rehearsal of their upcoming musical production, unaware that an escaped psychopath has sneaked into the theater with them.

Director: Michele Soavi
Stars: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Stars: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

After murdering a young girl, Angela Baker assumes her identity and travels to Camp New Horizons, built on the grounds of the camp she terrorized the year before, and starts killing again.

Director: Michael A. Simpson
Stars: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J. Pollard


Cast overview, first billed only:
Vicky Dawson ...
Christopher Goutman ...
Cindy Weintraub ...
Lisa Dunsheath ...
David Sederholm ...
Bill Nunnery ...
Hotel Clerk
Thom Bray ...
Diane Rode ...
Bryan Englund ...
Donna Davis ...
Carleton Carpenter ...
1945 M.C
Joy Glaccum ...
Timothy Wahrer ...


The film begins with the return home of a wwII veteran who was the recipient of a "Dear John Letter". After swiftly dispatching a courting couple in a Gazebo we leap to present day where a college celebration becomes the hunting ground for a uniform clad killer. Written by Barry Wall <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It will freeze your blood. See more »


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 November 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pitchfork Massacre  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tom Savini considers this to be his best work. See more »


The camera's shadow can be seen during the POV shot of one of the girls' getting out of the pool when encountering the killer. See more »


Carl: Hey, who turned off the band?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The color of the closing credits turns from blood red to yellow. See more »


Featured in Scream: The Inside Story (2011) See more »


Hard Way
Composed and Performed by Nowhere Fast
Courtesy of Trust Me Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Wrongfully overlooked and underrated early 80's slasher
28 February 2006 | by (the Doomed Megalopolis of Blasphemous Technoids) – See all my reviews

THE PROWLER maybe isn't a milestone in the slasher-genre, nor is it innovating in any way, but it certainly is one of the better teen-slasher-movies of the 80's. It has what it takes: Tension, a high body count, gore, nudity and a decent (though not really original) story. I'd say it even is almost on par with Friday THE 13TH PART I. Almost, I say, because Friday THE 13TH had an original twist in the end. In the case of THE PROWLER you'll probably guess the identity of the killer way before the final 'unmasking'-scene.

The plot is straightforward and easy to follow (like almost every slasher-flick). The prologue is a bit strange (black & white documentary footage of soldiers coming home from the World War II), but it's necessary to provide the killer's background-story. The first killing takes place in 1945 during a homecoming-party. It appears the killer had personal motives. He was never caught. Then, almost 40 years later, a new town's party is being organized and the killer picks up his old habits (and weapons).

On the bright site, THE PROWLER has a lot of killings, and therefore lots of bloodshed. All the make-up & blood-effects are masterfully executed by Tom Savini (with the ultimate high-light being an exploding-head shot). The killer is pretty creepy with his military outfit (including a German-like war-helmet) and uses various weapons (a pitchfork, a big army-knife, a shotgun,...). The fact that he doesn't speak one word during his attacks adds to the scariness. What also raises THE PROWLER to an effective and above-average slasher-level, is Joseph Zito's directing, the acting and the over-all atmosphere. Thankfully this movie doesn't include teenagers playing stupid jokes on each-other, a phenomenon slasher-movies too often suffer from. At a few moments Joseph Zito's directing even reaches levels of tension like in Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (no, it's not as good as HALLOWEEN but it has its moments). It's also nice to see that when leading girl Vicky Dawnson for the first time sees the masked killer, she doesn't ask obvious things like "Who are you? What are you doing here?". No, see looks at him, and when the killer stares back at her, silent and motionless, she immediately senses the danger and starts running. Further more, there are at least two jump-scenes that really work (always a good thing in a horror movie, but you might wanna turn up the volume) and I thought the roses were a nice touch.

It was also a nice surprise to see a slasher-movie that knows the rules of the genre and dares to break a few too (you figure out which ones yourself). I applaud Joseph Zito and Tom Savini for a job well done, and I feel sad about the fact that THE PROWLER seems to be a bit under-appreciated. So, come on all you slasher-fans, seek out this movie and boost its rating here on IMDb to a higher level.

22 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Death match... The Prowler versus My Bloody Valentine Aomalle27
Due for a remake timg88
The Major Problem With This Film JGrossoiii
Region 2 DVD adriangr
Widescreen DVD release adriangr
Rosemary and Roy Deserved To Die marirabbit
Discuss The Prowler (1981) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: