Up 370 this week

The Prowler (1981)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 5,312 users  
Reviews: 113 user | 105 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


Celebrate IMDb's 25th Anniversary with Photos We Love

IMDb turns 25 on October 17! To celebrate, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite movie, TV, and event photos from the last 25 years.

See the Photos We Love

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 26 Mar 2011
a list of 38 titles
created 20 Jan 2012
a list of 40 titles
created 11 Sep 2013
a list of 44 titles
created 2 months ago
a list of 42 titles
created 5 days ago

Related Items

Search for "The Prowler" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Prowler (1981)

The Prowler (1981) on IMDb 6.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Prowler.



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Burning (1981)
Horror | Thriller
    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 | 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
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
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 | Thriller
    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 | 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
Horror | Thriller
    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
Hell Night (1981)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion where they get killed off one by one by the monstrous surviving members of a family massacre years earlier for trespassing on their living grounds.

Director: Tom DeSimone
Stars: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton
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
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


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


The human exterminator. 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?


It's been only recently discovered that "The Prowler" was re-released to a handful of theaters in North and South Carolina as "Pitchfork Massacre" in Spring 1984. It is still unknown who the distributor was, or whether they had legally acquired the rights to release the film. 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 »


Mark London: [Mark and Pam are at the darkened and empty police station discussing their next move] I want to check out the dorm again.
Pam MacDonald: [referring to the Prowler] You really think he might still be there.
Mark London: Right now, that's all we have to do on.
Pat Kingsley: [they attempt to leave but are stopped when a drunk Kingsley walks in] Well... looke here.
[referring to the sheriff]
Pat Kingsley: George left you in charge here! Can't you keep those damn kids under control?
Mark London: What're you doing here, Kingsley?
Pat Kingsley: It's... that damn graduation thing. We ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »


View Through a Tear
Composed and Performed by Nowhere Fast
Courtesy of Trust Me Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Possibly the greatest of the early eighties dorm slashers...
13 June 2002 | by (London) – See all my reviews

By far my favourite of the early eighties dorm slashers, THE PROWLER is an excellent and exciting film brought to the screen with finesse by Joseph Zito. He also directed arguably the best of the FRIDAY THE 13th sequels - The Final Chapter. He shows us his love for the hack and slash cycle here, by renewing a few scenes from two of the genre's pioneers. You've got the 'murder in the shower' fresh out of Hitchcock's renowned classic PSYCHO. Here Zito makes it a lot more brutal, with some realistic and visually stunning gore effects from horror maestro Tom Savini. And then there are various references to Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, including the assassin digging up the grave of the victim he killed some 35 years earlier. Michael Myers steals his sister Judith's headstone from her grave when he escapes from his 15 year spell in Haddonfield's asylum. But although there are brief nods to his obvious influences, Zito also manages to supply some originality and some genuinely scary sequences. Back in the day it was thought that he was going to be the next Tobe Hooper after his flawless work within the horror genre. But sadly he went on to work with more action-orientated films such as Missing in Action, Red Scorpion and Invasion USA.

The plot is believable and also extremely well written. It opens with black and white footage of GIs returning victoriously from WW2. Cut to a letter from a girl named Rosemary to an unseen receiver, stating how she 'does not want to hurt him, but could wait for him no longer...' In other words someone's been dumped and it looks as if a few people are going to have to suffer because of it! Again cut to Avalon Bay Graduation dance 1945 and we're shown the lady Rosemary for the first time with her new 'fella'. While the host merrily talks about Glenn Miller's death, Rose and her cocky boyfriend head out under the stars for a spot of good old harmless (or extremely harmful in these films!) huggin' and a kissin'! They choose a spot at the end of a brightly laminated pier and continue to smooch the night away under the stars, unaware that a somewhat unfriendly looking guy disguised in GI garb and brandishing a bowie knife is watching their every move! Suddenly the lights go out, and Rose and her partner are brought a little bit closer together...Both impaled on a pitchfork!

Skip 35 years and Avalon Bay is preparing for the first graduation dance since the fateful events that occurred before. While the young enthusiastic teens are shown getting ready to find romance at the dance, it looks as if a certain unknown someone is preparing for another bloody massacre. One girl unknowingly predicts the events that follow while she's getting dressed for the party by saying to her sulky looking friend "Hey you're not gonna mope about tonight are ya? Some of us will never see each other again..." Her remarks prove to be surprisingly accurate!

THE PROWLER is often pipped in the popularity stakes by the same year's similar slasher MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Many reviewers also find the latter to be the slightly better of the two. However I beg to differ, because even though MBV is a decent enough movie, I find this to be a scarier and for the most part more sinister attempt with a much stronger cast. Zito's spooky direction is superb and Savini's 'almost too realistic' gore touches just round it off perfectly. There are a few jumps to increase your heartbeat and I strongly wouldn't recommend any young femme fatale who's trying to grow her finger nails to watch this flick alone, because there are a couple of scenes when I guarantee you'll be biting them off!! One of my favorite ever murder scenes is also in this flick, the excellent swimming pool killing. A female teen who is bathing by herself under the moonlight paddles over to the ladder to climb out of the pool. She reaches the steps and begins to ascend them when all of a sudden she is brutally kicked in the face. She finally comes back to her senses and looks around to see who attacked her, but no one is anywhere to be seen! The silence is broken when the killer jumps out of the water behind her and gorily slices her throat in amazing detail. Watch for the blood that leaks out of her wound as her lifeless body sinks in to the murky depths of the cold water; it's Savini at his best...Excellent! The cast are also superb, which, must've helped the general production no end. Veteran actors Farley Granger and Lawrence Tierney have small roles, but the real 'round of applause' goes to fresh faced newcomers Goutman and Dawson who actually steal the show. It's only a shame they never went on to do much worth noting in the movies after this.

All in all THE PROWLER is everything a slasher should be dark, scary, gory while at the same time fun. It's incredibly underrated so I would most definitely recommend it, try and hunt down a copy if you can and I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

34 of 49 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: