The Prowler (1981) Poster

(1981)

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6/10
Outstanding gore. Some suspense, too.
TOMASBBloodhound5 June 2005
The Prowler is an overlooked horror film from that golden age of slasher films of the late 70s and early 80s. The film is directed by Joseph Zito who has special effects wizard Tom Savini to thank for the film's best scenes. The two also teamed up for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (part 4), and that film is a superior effort to this one.

The Plot of this film is very similar to My Bloody Valentine. We have a brutal act of violence taking place many years ago. We have the first big social event scheduled in several years on the very grounds where the trouble took place. And we have a spooky killer chopping up victims left and right. Only instead of full mining gear, our Prowler is dressed in WWII era military fatigues.

The gore is by far the best thing this film has going for it. There are some DISGUSTING killings which look very much like they could be the real thing. Our killer loves to use his bayonet, a pitchfork, and a sawed-off double barrel shotgun on his victims. Most of the killings in the version I have are not mere snippets of knives piercing flesh. You see the killer slice and penetrate these victims until they aren't breathing any more. There is a tidal wave of blood spilled in this film. They saved the best for last, when we see just what a blast from a shotgun at point blank range can do to someone's face. (I would not dream of revealing the victim's identity here!) The film has some glaring dead spots, too. Lawrence Tierney who is billed pretty highly makes such a short appearance you wouldn't believe it. Character development is nearly non-existent, and the motivation behind the carnage is not defined by any logical means. Let me put it this way; I have absolutely NO IDEA why the killer committed these murders. I wonder if the writers even knew.

Gore fans will definitely need to see the uncut version of this film at some point in their lives. It's like a golfer having to play a certain course he heard is interesting before he dies or a skier having to try a certain slope. That kind of thing. See this film out of a sense of duty, but don't expect a true classic.

6 of 10 stars from the Hound.
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Possibly the greatest of the early eighties dorm slashers...
RareSlashersReviewed13 June 2002
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!
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S10 Reviews: The Prowler (1981)
suspiria104 July 2005
Rosemary sends a "Dear John" letter to her boyfriend while he is serving in WWII then is mysteriously slaughtered with her new beau at a graduation dance. Flash-forward to 1981 and the current class of graduating collegiates are throwing the first dance in many moons and a killer pops up looking like a storntrooper from hell and dropping roses everywhere. 80's slashing is in the house.

This rather predictable and slow slasher is saved by the gore set-pieces by effects maestro Tom Savini. That really is the only saving grace and highlight of "Prowler". Everything else on display is a bit bland and rather standard.
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6/10
Surviving graduation hasn't been bloodier.
mylimbo8 March 2008
As for being your usual copy-and-paste slasher. "The Prowler" was a modest attempt, but its looming reputation makes it out better than it actually is. Don't get me wrong. Everyone talks about Tom Savini's magnificently creative gruesome FX work, and deservedly so. But other than the potently bloody gore, and overall nastiness of some memorable deaths. What really drags this one down is how it gets bogged down with a scratchy story, and inconsistent script which led the film to plod along. Director Zito does his best to in-store some life, but while effectively demonstrating a grim, cruel atmospheric wound. In between the death sequences is little in the way of suspense, or even interest since there are too many vaguely ambiguous and padded distractions that cement themselves in the second half and only go on to annoy. Figuring out whose behind that ominous masked solider in uniform figure, doesn't take much. Baffling though was the choice of weapon… no not the army bayonet, but that pitchfork. When did they issue those things out? Odd, but I like it. The stalk 'n' slash angle doesn't entirely wear its self out, since while the jolts are basically telegraphed (but genuine) and having a flimsy story being strung together by its set-pieces that don't tie together. Still it managed to get the heart-racing when needed, and there are few piercing visuals and positioning work by Zito. The shady camera-work luridly focus on the action at hand.

The performances are soundly delivered, but never did I feel anything for these rather one-dimensional characters. Vicky Dawson makes for a strong, likable heroine, but the rest of the cast don't have much affect. Stalwart actors Farley Granger looks embarrassed and there's rather an unusually pointless role for Lawrence Tierney (who also briefly appeared in Zito's 1979 film "Bloodrage") . Christopher Goutman as the local deputy sheriff just pines a lot, and looks clueless. Richard Einhorn's composed a forebodingly hummer music score that superbly complements the film.

There are no pretensions here, in what it wants to be. A middlingly gritty, shocking slasher fare.
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9/10
A slasher that delivers
acidburn-1025 February 2008
Rosemary's Killer (aka The Prowler) has a central theme similar to the same year's My Blood Valentine - a killer who's psychosis is re-triggered by the reawakening of a long dead tradition, in both cases a dance. The Prowler is not a great little slasher flick, there are a few redeeming features; highish production values, some suspenseful chase sequences, gruesomely effective gore effects courtesy of Tom Savini. The film tries to set itself up as a bit of a mystery and much is made of the snooping couple looking for clues, I factor that I always finds interesting in these movies, the killer's identity is a surprise, It could have been anyone.

A prime example of the slasher genre that gleefully touches all the familiar bases before sliding home (home being an exploding head courtesy of living legend Tom Savini). The bloodbath begins at a graduation party, when a returning G.I. responds to a Dear John letter with a firmly inserted pitchfork through it's author and her new beau. Rather than focusing on capturing the crazed madman with the pointy tool, the town of Avalon Bay decides graduation dances are the problem and bans them indefinitely. This policy works well for 36 years. Then in 1981, having never seen My Bloody Valentine or even Footloose for that matter, the town makes the sudden decision to throw another party. The resulting mayhem is an atmospheric and deliciously gory jolter that, like it's lead heroine, stumbles a bit, but ultimately gets the job done.

All in all The Prowler is definitely up there as one of the best 80's Slasher definitely worth seeing.
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7/10
Wrongfully overlooked and underrated early 80's slasher
Vomitron_G28 February 2006
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.
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Surprisingly scary, creepy slasher flick
ehoshaw2 August 2000
To me, "The Prowler" is a lot better than any other early eighties slasher flick out there. The Tom Savini FX are excellent and very bloody. It all has to do with a phantom slasher dressed in combat fatigues stalking teenagers at the graduation dance. This is fast-paced for the first half, but then it slows down a lot until the exciting finale. Vicky Dawson is an attractive heroine, and the twist ending and nightmare sequences are first rate. Slasher fans should love this!
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6/10
One of the Better Slasher Films from the Golden Age of Slashers, "The Prowler"
captaincracker12 June 2007
"The Prowler" is worth all the viewing that any horror fan can muster up the time for. It is a decent little viewed slasher that has some good story qualities but will mostly be remembered for its extremely graphic gore (especially for the time period of which it was made). Aside from the gore, one of the things that was actually enjoyable about "The Prowler" was that it did offer a little bit of suspense and tension, and the direction by Joseph Zito is perfect while he creates a scary atmosphere and uses the camera to make his killer all the more terrifying. It is rare that people nowadays can cringe at slasher films from this era, but "The Prolwer" certainly will add a little bit of suspense.

The acting isn't as bad as one might think, and its shocking that most of these stars were never heard of again. The musical score is very well done, and keeps the audience tuned into the film. However, as mentioned, it is the director Joseph Zito and the make-up artist Tom Savini (of the "Friday the 13th" and "Dawn of the Dead" fame) who really make "The Prowler" worth your time. Zito knows how to create a scary and ominous villain and he knows how to pace the storyline so that it isn't at all boring. Savini adds a lot of blood to some truly gross death scenes. Knives going through heads, through throats, head explosions, throat slashes, pitchfork killings... its all due to Savini's brilliance. I must say that these effects are the best I've seen in a horror film from the time period, and they surpass "The Burning", "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter", and "Sleepaway Camp".

"The Prolwer" is available on DVD, from the Blue Underground Company completely uncut, uncensored, and relentless. It also includes a commentary by Zito and Savini, a brief featurette featuring Savini, a theatrical trailer (which will remind anyone of the "Thanksgiving" trailer in the film "Grindhouse"), as well as a poster gallery. Its a nice package for such a rarely seen little gem.
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6/10
It's a soldier, a farmer, a washed up sheriff! Nope, it's the Prowler.
Cristopher_Jeorge11 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Soon after a young GI hits stateside he finds his ex best gal getting ready to do the whoopee with an aristocrat in a gazebo. Well war is hell but young love is worse and our GI stomps a pitchfork through both of them. Hot!. It's now 35 years later and the dance that has been canceled all these years is now on, someones been murdered in a neighboring town, the town sheriff NEEEEDS to go fishing. Does any of this matter? We're talking 80s slasher film here. We have the rebel rousing teen fodder, the young deputy left in charge, the red herrings, the awful mullet clad rock band, the spooky old house and our maniacal soldier returning to kill. The plot to this thing is awful thin, it's really a shoestring for Tom Savinis gore effects which are pretty darn impressive. Lawrence Teirney shows up as a gimpy major who pops some wheelies in his wheel chair, hides out in the bushes and grabs at girls prom dresses but.. doesn't have a single line of dialogue. Most of the inane dialogue is handled by the deputy whos' bone structure is extra terrifying, don't laugh, I'm not kidding, scary! For all the bashing I liked the Prowler especially the fact that said Prowler totes around a double barrel sawed off shot gun. You'll be waiting for evil GI Joe to whip it on out and you won't be disappointed, Ba BOOM times two!!!
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7/10
A well-above-average entry into the early 80's slasher film canon
happyendingrocks5 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Those who are interested enough in this modest little gem to read a review of it are undoubtedly only aware of The Prowler because it features the work of splatter effects maestro Tom Savini. For some, that fact alone will be enough to convince them to watch this film. However, even the skeptical will find this an enjoyable, if not entirely original, offering.

While Savini's effects here aren't the best on his resume, they certainly elevate this rather rote slasher and make it stand out amidst the hundreds of Friday The 13th clones that dominated the horror genre in the early 80's. The production forces Savini's set-pieces to adhere rather rigidly to the slash-and-stab formula, but there are at least a couple of kills in this film that outshine anything else from that period that was attempted by anyone whose initials aren't T.S. An extended shower murder sequence is arguably the best of the bunch, and thanks to some leniency from the MPAA, this scene remains intact enough to fully demonstrate the master's abilities. Another nice touch appears during a knife through the skull scene (later re-imagined with more banana juice and less red sauce in Savini's next pairing with director Joseph Zito, Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter), when the killer pulls the blade out and we see the victim's eyes roll back in their head, adding an additional layer of realism to an otherwise standard money shot.

Elsewhere in the production, it is abundantly clear that intelligent minds had their hands in The Prowler's creation. The 1945-set prologue looks far more lavish and historically accurate than we have any right to expect a low budget slasher flick to offer us, so it's obvious the film-makers had a bit of money to work with. There are also a few instances of deft humor peppered into the proceedings, my favorite being a montage that inter-splices footage of future victims prepping and preening for the graduation dance with images of our killer preparing himself for the gala by donning his disguise and equipping himself with cutlery for the killings to come. Hell, even the band that performs at the dance is pretty rockin', and fans of Boston and Nazareth may find themselves sitting through the credits to find out who's responsible for the tunes (to save you the trouble, I looked it up for you; the band is called Nowhere Fast).

There are some slippery plot devices, such as an extended sequence where our leading lady accompanies her police officer beau as the pair spend about 10 minutes of the film essentially breaking into an ancillary character's house and rooting through his belongings, which adds some semi-important information to the story but doesn't make a whole lot of rational sense. (Quick trivia bonus, this ancillary character is played by Lawrence Tierney, which kind of makes The Prowler awesome by itself). There's also a chase scene in a sorority dorm, in which our heroine finds every single exit door locked, even though each of these doors is indicated with a large neon "Exit" sign (I'm pretty sure those are never locked in a way that would prohibit anyone from leaving the building... it's sort of illegal). If I was really getting picky, I'd also tell you to keep your eye out for the easily identifiable wedding ring our female lead wears throughout the film, even though her character is supposed to be courting the town deputy who serves as our lead male protagonist. But I won't.

There aren't too many genuine frights to be found here, and most of the "gotcha" moments are of the "just kidding, it's your boyfriend grabbing you on the shoulder, not the killer" variety. Plus the final jump-scare is one of the more ridiculous I've ever seen. But what The Prowler lacks in pure horror, it more than makes up for simply by being an enjoyable yarn. The back story that sparks the murders is more basic and well-thought-out than most you'll find in the sub-genre (though it was essentially re-used in the original My Bloody Valentine), and the production as a whole has a competence and coherence we don't always get when revisiting the golden era of slasher movies.

Despite the film's strongest points, most viewers will conclude that the flaws inevitably bring us back to the revelation that Tom Savini's presence is the primary impetus for horror fans to see this film. Fair enough... But isn't that as good a reason as any?
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8/10
Gory & suspenseful 80s slasher gem (See This Slasher #1)
Warning: Spoilers
A murderer dressed in World War II-style fatigues stalks down a group of college kids in the days before the annual graduation dance. The killer, who is attempting to reenact a decades-old murder, will stop at nothing until his plans are fulfilled.

Of all of the positive things about this early 80s slasher, I believe the most commonly discussed element is master of effects Tom Savini's work. Even he said he considered this film to be the best work he ever did. I'm not so sure as I would go so far as to say it's his best work. . . but, it's definitely up there as some of the best work of his rather large collection of special effects gigs. Now, no matter how good the SFX are, there are other elements of The Prowler that should not go overlooked. From the opening WWII-set flashback sequence, which was far more believable than I've come to expect, and on, The Prowler plays as one of the most realistic of the '80s slashers. The acting is on the higher end of the spectrum for similar slashers and the director's look of the film is very good, especially (duh) his utilization of Savini's gore. The writing is rather formulaic. . . all of the usual characters are there, including the typical group of victims and even the 'outsider criminal' used as a possible suspect for the murders. But, since this is from the earlier part of the '80s slasher craze, I suppose that's, at least partially, forgivable. The characters, sadly, were not very well developed and my caring for them was very rare. One thing that does make this film special is the killer. . . well, not so much the killer himself, but his costume. The dark fatigues, face covering, and helmet make for a really imposing sight. However, I would've liked to see him use more military-style weapons. A pitchfork? I understand it's relevant because of the murders in the opening scene. . . but, hell, there has to be a weapon more germane to the subject. Anyway, this film has its problems, but it's extremely enjoyable and well made, and the great use of gore effects only acts to accentuate its quality.

Obligatory Slasher Elements:

  • Violence/Gore: Oh yeah. As stated a couple times above, Tom Savini is the man behind the special effects and he, as expected, does a hell of a job. The death scenes are great and made even better by some great gore. Keep an eye out for the pool scene, it was my favourite. However, as I said, I would've preferred some deaths more relevant to the killer's identity.


  • Sex/Nudity: There's a bit of nudity from a couple of the female dormmates, but not to excess (is there really excess?). Most of the sex is more talked about than actually done (like with most young people), so don't go looking for any kind of erotic delights.


  • Scares: Surprisingly, the film focuses more on the heavy suspense than outward 'jump' scares, and the suspense is done rather well.


  • Mystery: The identity of the killer is kept secret throughout the entire course of the film and, while there are clues (I guess), it's not exactly totally predictable.


Final verdict: 7.5/10. See this slasher!

-AP3-
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6/10
Moderately Fun Slasher Movie Boasting Impressive Special Effects.
Mr_Ectoplasma17 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"The Prowler", aka "Rosemary's Killer" is a 1981 slasher movie that begins on the night of June 28, 1945 at a graduation dance in a small town. A jilted serviceman coming back from the war finds his girlfriend, Rosemary, in the act with another guy, and murders them both with a pitchfork. 35 years later to the day, the town is holding another graduation dance, to the dismay of a local major. The organizer of the dance, college student Pam MacDonald, is looking forward to the evening. That is, until a man clad in a black army suit and a gas mask appears, and begins to murder those around her until ultimately stalking her throughout the night. Could Rosemary's killer really have returned after all these years?

Notorious for it's masterful gory special effects by the infamous Tom Savini, "The Prowler" isn't much different from your average '80s slasher flick (and is in fact quite similar to slasher classic "My Bloody Valentine", released the same year), but it does manage to stay fairly interesting and dazzles the viewer with it's impressive special effects. The story is derivative and runs along the same lines that many other films did before and after, with a few little quirks that somewhat set it aside - in particular, the getup of our villain in the army suit, which is different from the typical masked murderer, but actually quite creepy. The film manages to build some light threads of suspense as well, not quite strong, but enough for a horror flick of this type.

The pacing is a little bit uneven if you ask me, and I will admit that at times this film is a little tedious, but luckily it does pick up before it becomes too much of an issue. As many slasher fans would expect, there are a couple of good chase scenes in the film (the scene when Pam goes back to her dorm to change her clothes was really spooky), and the special effects, as mentioned before, are really stunning, especially when taking the time the movie was made into consideration. There are some very convincing pitch-forkings and some extremely bloody murders here, and they all are fairly realistic looking, so I have to give Savini some credit for that. Vicky Dawson leads the film well and overall the performances here are on par for a slasher movie. The revelation of the killer is a bit anticlimactic but fits the puzzle, and the surprise ending is a clever little jolt to end the film on.

Overall, "The Prowler" is a decent slasher flick that is worth a watch. It's not anything particularly original or different from other slasher flicks of its time, but it does contain some remarkable makeup effects and a few good scares and minor suspense. As for all the raving reviews on here, I do think it is a slightly overrated film in the slasher sub-genre, but it wasn't bad by any means. If nothing else, see it for Savini's work, because it is pretty darn impressive. 6/10.
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7/10
Dark, violent, and unsetting = a sui generis slasher flick!
insomniac_rod1 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
One of the best slasher movies from the 80's no doubt about it. I'm surprised that this movie has many "haters" calling it boring or "just like many other slasher flicks".

"The Prowler" is better than many slasher movies because it has an interesting plot, a dark creepy atmosphere, a sinister villain, and the best of all : beautiful, great gore. I'm proud to say that this movie has excellent death scenes that are worth the watch.

"The Prowler" made important contributions to the genre: First, the gory death scenes. Which one is your favorite? The infamous stabbing in the head? the pitchfork stabbing in the shower? the throat slashed? or the head exploding? The menu is exquisite! The scenes I've mentioned are great and by far, better than in most movies of this kind. Thank you Tom Savini, you made the movie.

The plot is simple. This is a revenge flick in the likes of "My Bloody Valentine". The Prowler "returns" in his army uniform and everything to avenge the betrayal he suffered years ago. The plot moves smoothly in a dark, creepy atmosphere. Every scene has a feeling of uncertainity that adds a sinister touch to the movie. That's what I liked the most about the movie. It's a slasher flick but it's scary, not cheesy. The death scenes add even more to the scare factor.

The acting is pretty good. Do you think that the lead female looks like a mature Kirsten Dunst? I couldn't stop looking at her. The rest of the cast is okay.

Joseph Zito's direction is perfect. He created a scary slasher flick. The correct use of shadows and the feeling of uncertainty before and after death scenes is perfect. Mr. Zito, my respect for you.

The soundtrack is also very effective and works perfect for the movie's events.

The ending is great! It has plenty of violence, gore, and a reasonable explanation towards the events. Great ending, in my opinion, one of the best of any slasher flick.

I highly recommend "The Prowler" for people who enjoy violent and scary movies. This one has excellent death scenes mixed with a creepy atmosphere. The plot is interesting enough to keep you wondering what will happen next.

Get this movie, you won't regret.
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7/10
Another day, another slasher...
ninjas-r-cool15 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Not sure why I'm watching so many slashers lately as I've never been much of a fan, but I've still been enjoying them. Thinking is overrated anyway. This time it was 80's classic The Prowler, directed by Joseph Zito who I like to think is somehow related to Frank Zito. It's completely impossible due to Frank being... well, fictional and all, but that's a minor stumbling block and I hope that someday Frank rises from the grave and becomes a filmmaker like his brother.

My DVD of this came under the alternative title of Rosemary's Killer, so first up I'd like to congratulate the distributors for having a spoiler in the title. Dicks! What if I'd watched the first 2 minutes and thought "Gee, that Rosemary chick's nice. I hope she lives!" Luckily I would never think that as I couldn't give a rodents anus who lives in these dumb slashers. I don't even care what their names are, preferring to give them my own more appropriate monikers like Hopefully-a-victim-soon #1, Hopefully-a-victim-soon #2, etc. But still it's the thought that counts. People who care about the characters in slashers might be overly sensitive and a little dorky, but they're still people kinda and don't deserve to have their viewing experience ruined by thoughtless titling. So I'll be a little more tactful and say that in the opening minutes, a female character who shall remain nameless gets killed in a bloody manner, earning the film an early two thumbs up from me.

So The Prowler is indeed a slasher and an extremely formulaic one at that. After the initial murder which occurs in 1945, we cut to present day (1980 that is) to discover that a similar madman is planning on ruining graduation for a load of teenagers. A graduation dance is a perfect setting for a slasher as it allows us to establish up front who's a slut and thus who's worthy of a phallic bladed weapon to the gut. One of the young females in this actually showers... in the NUDE!! Shocking, I know. Some of the women even have the audacity to have big breasts. That's just asking to be killed. The men are just as bad, most of them just acting normal as if they don't deserve to be brutally murdered. They ain't fooling me and fortunately they ain't fooling the prowler either. When the kills arrive, the blood gushes freely and the camera zooms in, almost leeringly, to capture every driplet mid-screen. No cutaways here, folks. Something tells me Ryan Nicholson's a big fan of this one. Of course, this 'more is more' approach is entirely necessary, firstly to create an uncomfortable voyeuristic feel, but also to show the glory of Tom Savini's FX in full detail. Any attempt at subtlety would be a disservice to Savini's expert work.

The killer himself gets about in WWII military garb which, for some, could be seen as somewhat fetishistic. The ladies do love a man in uniform. Experiments have been conducted showing strong evidence that a woman can quite easily bring herself to climax to the sound of troops marching. You know what that means? It means someone out there makes a living watching women masturbate to various soundtracks. Hands up if you wish you'd followed a different career path! Yeah, your hand is totally up right now. One of them anyway.

All up I'd say this movie is like the anti-Halloween. While Halloween focused entirely on suspenseful build-up that led up to some anti-climactic kills, The Prowler has zero suspense but a good pay-off each time. Sluts, dorks, drunks, jocks, blood and boobs - that's about all you can ask for from a slasher and The Prowler delivers exactly that.
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8/10
A really nasty, effective and above average early 80's slasher item
Woodyanders15 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
June 28th, 1945: A jilted World War II soldier dressed in combat fatigues pitchforks his two-timing girlfriend and her lover during a graduation dance. June 28th, 1980: When the graduation dance is held again after many years of inactivity, the grisly murders start anew. Director Joseph ("Missing in Action," Invasion U.S.A.") Zito manages to wring plenty of suspense from the formulaic script, nicely creating a bleakly haunting small town atmosphere (the movie was shot on location in my home state of New Jersey in the hoppin' resort community of Cape May) and staging the shockingly ferocious kill scenes with considerable skill and style. Moreover, the solid supporting performances by Farley Granger as the folksy sheriff and the always great Lawrence ("Midnight," "Reservoir Dogs") Tierney as a mean, crippled old grouch lift this picture well out of the rut. Both Raoul Lumas' polished photography and Richard ("Shock Waves") Einhorn's spooky score are likewise up to par. Popping up in nifty minor roles are future "Riptide" TV series regular Thom Bray as a bespectacled nerd and Cindy ("Humanoids from the Deep") Weintraub as a promiscuous harlot who winds up having her throat slit wide open while enjoying an evening dip in a pool. However, it's the incredibly ghastly and gruesome gore make-up f/x by Tom Savini which give this film an extra brutal and upsetting edge; said hardcore graphic splatter moments include a bayonet in the neck, a particularly vicious impalement on a pitchfork (this murder set piece happens to an attractive young lady who's taking a shower), a bayonet through the head, and the killer's head being blown up with a shotgun (this latter bit is quite bloody and alarming). The excellent Blue Underground DVD offers a bang-up widescreen presentation along with the theatrical trailer, an extensive poster and still gallery, behind-the-scenes videotape footage of Savini at work, and a lively, enjoyable and informative commentary by Zito and Savini.
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2/10
A Real Snoozefest
contact-25822 June 2008
I only rented this because IMDb patrons raved about how great it was. I was very disappointed. I fell asleep several times during the course of the movie (admittedly, it was after midnight when I watched it). I never cared about anyone in the film. The lead actress was not attractive. I never really knew why the killer was killing. There was nothing erotic about this movie. Yes, the gore was realistic, but that is not nearly enough to make me enjoy a movie. There were very many slow moving parts in this movie (and I think I fell asleep during every one of them). Maybe my expectations were way too high, but I felt this was soulless, by the numbers, slasher. Wake me when it's over.
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6/10
Boring
Tender-Flesh5 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The only thing that gives this film any life is the great bloody effects by Tom Savini. In fact, you could probably find all the death scenes re-edited together on Youtube and save yourself a lamentable 90 minutes of fluff. Filmed mostly at night and laden with the murkiest color even during the daytime shots, The Prowler is about a lover who returns from WWII only to find his girl, Rosemary, has decided she's tired of waiting all this time for him and moves on to another guy(an all too common occurrence during any war). He kills the couple as they are getting into to some light petting on a gazebo.

Flash Forward to 1980. Anyone with half a brain will be able to figure out early who the killer is, especially if you are even remotely decent at doing the math. It's been 35 years since there's been a graduation dance in the town(the last one being in 1945 when Rosemary was murdered) and obviously the killer is going to return and just randomly start hacking. The cast looks like body doubles for characters on Eight Is Enough, and I was seriously expecting to see Adam Rich or Willie Aames under the killer's mask. So, while all the kids are at the graduation dance, the sheriff's gone a-fishin', leaving the deputy in charge of the little Mayberry. In fact, this town seems so small, that after the dance starts, the only people that seem to be inhabiting the place are the main characters, the teens and chaperones, and 3 or 4 other people. So, old Prowler starts lurking, and gives a mighty fine pitch-perfect pitchfork performance to a girl in the shower. It's a highlight of the film, not just to see some nudie time, but because it's a good set of effects thanks to Savini. However, many reviewers have questioned why someone dressed as a soldier would decide to utilize a pitchfork as his weapon of choice. He also has a bayonet, which is a much cooler weapon and dispatches a few pretties by the pool. And lastly, he's packing heat. A sawed-off shotgun is quite an unusual implement for a masked stalker to lug around, and he will eventually wish he left it at home.

I don't expect a police procedural in a slasher movie, regardless of how the production values are--I'm not expecting CSI or whatever. But, when the killings start, the deputy has no clue what he's doing. First, he drives a jeep as his police vehicle. Anyone he ever arrested could easily escape from that vehicle. He has no lights or siren on it, that I recall. And, saddest of all, he has no radio and the town has no dispatcher. No one knows where he is! So he and his girlfriend discover a violated grave with a fresh body in it--not the usual occupant. They leave the body there and instead of calling the other deputies in town who are off-duty(well, one expects the deputy and sheriff don't work 12 hour shifts each and never take a day off...) or even going back to the dance to keep all the guests inside and "deputize" some strapping young lads to help out, the deputy goes it alone. Well, not quite. He does drag his would-be girlfriend around with him, and they burgle Rosemary's father's house--Twice!--without announcing police are coming in the house. The old man should sue(and don't get me started on how wasted Lawrence Tierney was in this film). That part is the biggest waste of the film. We see the couple wandering through the house twice while the Prowler is at large, leaving the rest of the town in danger, especially the people at the dance. At the very least, I would hope that if there were no other deputies to be had, and since the state troopers were 30 minutes away, Deppity Dawg might decide to phone the neighboring towns and ask for help. But, no, that would make sense.

This film is riddled with clichés. The false scares, the musical stabs, etc. Zito missed a great chance for some spooky death-in-the-basement scene when at the dance, an ugly girl and the Anti-Skolnick were weakly making out in the cobwebs and they don't get chopped up. The character of the Prowler is a decent idea, using a bayonet or trench knife is pretty cool, and even the pitchfork is put to good use, but the Prowler's camouflage hood is moronic. He is utterly featureless, and his helmet chin straps dangle near his ears, which is hilarious. If you want to see a good slasher movie from 1981, with Savini's work, watch The Burning instead. At least that film has a few characters you can care about. I can see why The Prowler was unavailable for so long. And it doesn't improve with multiple viewings; you just find more to gripe about.
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7/10
Gore Galore
AngryChair19 June 2005
Yet another entry in the flood of early '80's slashers, this one mainly remembered for Savini's awesome gore FX.

Gilted WWII soldier kills ex-girlfriend and her lover upon returning home, now decades later he begins to randomly murder. Does it have anything to do with the Graduation Dance being held again or is it because lovely Pam McDonald is coming too close to solving the mystery of the long-ago murders?

While the film's story line is thin indeed (infact, it's kinda similar to that of the earlier slasher My Bloody Valentine) this killer thriller isn't without its merits. The cast is game enough, especially appealing leads Dawson and Goutman. Tom Savini's make up FX are quite shocking, and believable. The movie does mount to some good suspense.

Certainly not for all, but slasher fans will find it a worth-wild venture.

** 1/2 out of ****
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1/10
Plodding, by-the-numbers slasher fare...of interest only for the brief gore scenes
hippiedj7 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*

I was there for the start of the wave of slasher flicks in the 1970s, and have seen them all. As one of the original readers of Fangoria, I was interested in seeing The Prowler because of the cool stills published. Unfortunately at that time, even Fangoria did stories and published photos without having actually seen the films ahead of time, and of course I was hyped up to see this film. At that time, if you had not seen too many horror films, The Prowler might have shocked you somewhat because of the violence. That's stretching it a bit though, as it plods along in between the random killings and offers no real surprises.

It takes a while to set up the "way back when" element, then once it gets to the present (or 1980), the way too obvious setup of the sheriff going on vacation is something I would find amazing if anyone was fooled by (after all, he IS played by Farley Granger, and is established as a person of interest too well to just "go away" for the rest of the film). At least in Friday The 13th the mother was not given any genuine screen time to give you any suspicion early on.

Once the killer gets going, we are basically subjected to LONG, drawn out scenes of the cop and his gal wandering through a house (TWICE!), and wandering through a cemetery. Even when the girl goes back to her dormitory and misses seeing the bloodshed early in the story, we are treated to her going through general motions before and during the chase that truly needed the help of editing to beef up suspense. This seemed to be a problem as well with the film Prom Night -- remember the scene of the girl running up and down halls for what seemed an eternity? If you were to cut out all the walking around, the film might clock in at about an hour. The killer seemed to take way too long to smash up a room where she was hiding near the end, you forget about being tense she might be discovered because by that point you're just thinking, "Come on, already!" either smash it up a little faster or have her get out of there (oh come on, you knew she was too important to get killed, right?)! While some people have apparently considered this a classic, I consider it a classic only as a test of patience.

The recent DVD from Blue Underground restores the graphic violence, but that's the main item of interest for this film. I always was bewildered by many Italian shockers in the 1970s and the U.S. slashers like The Prowler that always manage to find a way to have a naked girl getting butchered (like Pieces or Torso)-- for The Prowler, it's the naked girl in the shower, getting pitch-forked right under her breasts. Of course the guys that get a thrill seeing breasts are satisfied, but at the same time she's being stabbed, you're wondering "am I supposed to be watching the stabbing or her breasts?" It's a rather perverse way to get a thrill, I've just never understood that mentality. And trust me, I've seen them all and have quite a few favorites, but that scene was one for the psychology books.

Calling this film truly exciting and intense (like the Creature Features Movie Guide did) is perplexing. I suppose each individual is scared by something differently, but for the life of me I can't find any true suspense in The Prowler. Just lots of scenes of people walking around, and when walking backwards obviously was going to run into someone for a false scare.

Go ahead and praise The Prowler for the gore if you want to, but other than that you're scared way too easily if you consider this one "frightening." Oh, and why would a killer soldier's choice of weapon be a pitchfork?
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8/10
Brilliant 80's Horror, Awesome effects.
Warning: Spoilers
The Prowler 9/26/2010

This early 80's slasher film by Joseph Zito is a horror classic. Tom Savini's make up effect are simply amazing. When you look back at a film like this you really appreciate the time and craftsmanship that goes into these practical effects. In the time before CGI, problem solving and creativity was at an all time high. It is no surprise that these days with computer effects so readily available, filmmakers have become lazy and over reliant on effects to save their films.

The "Prowler" is the story of a soldier coming home from WWII to find out that his girlfriend Rosemary has left him. This doesn't sit well with our soldier as he stalks and pitchforks a young couple at a college graduation dance. The Prowler always leaves a rose at the scene as his calling card. The Prowler as a character is a little weak. He is dressed head to toe in a WWII uniform and uses either a pitchfork or a bayonet to kill his victims. He is not as scary or as menacing as some of the other more infamous 80's killers like Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers. But as I mentioned in the beginning the kills are phenomenal and make this film what it is.

After the intro, the story jumps ahead 35 years to the present (1980) to the same college as students get ready for the first graduation dance since the double murder. Classic 80's clothes and hairstyles are always great to see, even if it is for cheap laughs. Our heroes are Pam, a beautiful blonde haired student and Mark, a big haired young deputy. The Sheriff goes on a fishing trip leaving Mark on his own for the weekend to cover the big dance. Like a lot of horror movies, the "Prowler" is not big on plot. The supporting characters are your average stupid college kids that make it way to easy for the Prowler to have his way with them. Pam and Mark piece things together and eventually wind up face to face with the killer. He is unmasked in the struggle and it kind of felt like an episode of Scooby-Doo. Pam survives the ordeal and when she returns to her dorm she gets a final scare. Zito and Savini got back together a year later and did "Friday the 13th Part 4.

Both DVD and Blu-Ray edition have a commentary track from Zito and Savini along with a featurette about the effects.
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6/10
Oh, Yeah! The Prowler!
gavin694211 December 2009
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.

"The Prowler" was directed by Joseph Zito, an incredibly nice guy and talented artist, probably better known for his installment in the "Friday the 13th" series. Also notable is that this film features special effects and makeup by Tom Savini, the undisputed horror master of the era. According to Wikipedia, the "film has been praised by gore fans for its brutal and realistic murder scenes." I am not sure about the realism, but the brutal aspect is certainly true, and if there is an uncut version floating around, it must be a bloodbath. Eli Roth also considers it one of his inspirations in the documentary "Fantastic Flesh" (which is a good film in its own right).

Writer Neal Barbera is the odd man out in the mix. While Zito and Savini are horror guys to the bone, Barbera is a member of the well-known cartoon family (you know, with Hanna-Barbera). His credit, going back to the 1960s, are writing dialogue and lyrics for Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones. How he came to write a slasher script is anyone's guess.

The movie landed in Zito's lap thanks to a man named Herb. (Exactly who this is I am not sure.) Herb was quite protective of the property; he was even offered a $700,000 advance for the distribution rights, but he feared the film would not make any more than the advance and chose to distribute it himself (which actually worked). And Zito hand-picked Savini based on his work in "Maniac". (It is perhaps no coincidence that Robert Lindsay, the cinematographer of "Maniac", was behind the camera on "The Prowler".)

"The Prowler" is in many ways like the 1981 slasher film "My Bloody Valentine", with the biggest difference being that "Prowler" is American and "Valentine" is Canadian. Both are excellent and both directors (the other being George Mihalka) are fine gentlemen, so I will not pick and choose between them here. Both films take place in a small town with the legend of a murder, where the killer has placed a so-called "curse" on the town where the residents cannot partake in a certain social gathering. Sure enough, the residents disobey the curse and are picked off in many brutal fashions. Must have been a 1981 thing.

I recommend "The Prowler" to any horror fan, and especially to those who love slashers of the 1980s. I think it has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, with shirts and posters becoming available. My friend and colleague Timm Horn talked high praise of this one, and was delighted to meet Zito with me. I wish I could have shared Timm's full enthusiasm at the time.

There are some slow moments, and some scenes that make little sense. Exactly why the deputy sheriff and his girlfriend are snooping around inside a house without consent or a warrant is a bit of a mystery. But it moves the plot forward.

This film is best seen on the version available from Blue Underground. The choice between DVD and BD probably matters little, as the BD is rather grainy on larger screens (you can only clean up a film like this so much). The Blue Underground disc has audio commentary with Zito and Savini, which is priceless for their banter and tidbits about where they acquired coffins, and a nice ten minute behind-the-scenes featurette showing how the gore and kill scenes were done. Very interesting.

Added fun fact: Peter Giuliano, who more or less started his career with "The Prowler" as assistant director and playing the man in the mask, went on to produce dozens of successful films and TV shows, as well as working as assistant director on such notable works as "Ghost Busters". Although not a well-known name, he may be the most successful person to have worked on this film.
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6/10
Its Got Guts Going for It
zimmyfan666 August 2015
"The Prowler" has all the 80s slasher narrative clichés. There's the lackluster love interest, there are the mindless teenagers, the horny exhibitionist girls, and the contrived killings which exist only to showcase the use of a particular weapon. It might for this reason seem like a film to pass over as yet one more negligible film in the pile of giant refuse that is the slasher film catalog. And I wouldn't blame you for feeling that way. All that "The Prowler" has going for it, all that is distinguishable, by most reviewers' estimations, is its ultra-realistic gore effects by the legendary Tom Savini. In fact, Quentin Tarantino himself theorizes that someone had to have gotten a blowjob in order for this film to get released. He's not far off. One can easily imagine not only the producers but the director and the crew themselves utterly shocked by the realism of the carnage. Had the acting and script been worthy of them, the effects might have propelled "The Prowler" into notoriety as one of the more legitimately frightening films in the slasher film catalog. Even the cinematography itself is surprisingly good and goes a long way at evoking the right mood. The technical aspects are therefore covered. However, in the areas where it matters most, "The Prowler" is ultimately a let-down. The characters are wooden and act in one-dimensional ways. The actors themselves seem eager not to play their characters but to await the box office returns. For this reason, it stands out merely as a curiosity and a testament to Tom Savini's abilities, far ahead of their time as they were.
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8/10
It's pretty schlocky... but it holds a place in my heart
MadBomber29 April 2008
Yes this film is a clichéd horror film to the nth degree, but somehow I love it anyway. Some years ago, two amorous lovers leave a dance and go out to a deserted and lonely gazebo. There while in the throws of lovemaking, they are interrupted by a masked psycho, clad in military regalia, helmet, gas mask, heavy infantry coat, etc. He or she proceeds to slaughter the two love birds using a pitchfork (odd I would have though a bayonet would be more appropriate). While this scene is often played out in various ways in ALL slasher movies; the love birds dispatched by the antagonist, a way of saying sex is evil or wicked, here the scene doesn't bother me. Fast forward to the present when the madman reappears to wreak havoc on a new and more plentiful source of horny teens and young adults. Several neat special effects implemented in some gory scenes by the legendary f/x man Tom Savini, and a truly spectacular explosive end to the film, make this an endearing film in my collection. Yes, all the dumb clichés of horror films are present here, sexed up teens dispatched, a heroine in distress, some red Herring's as to the identity of the slasher, several "false alarms" to set up the real scares, and some of the most idiotic actions by the characters when faced with the stress of evading the killer (running wrong way, tripping over everything, going into one exit rooms, calling out "who's there" when they hear a creepy noise, etc.) but despite all this, I consider it a nifty little film, and one worth watching.
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7/10
On the prowl...with Tom Savini
Coventry18 June 2004
Like a true horrorfreak, I get a kick out of hunting down all the films for which Tom Savini did the make-up. `Friday the 13th' and `Dawn of the Dead' are the obvious ones, but the real treats can be found in the overlooked early 80's slasher section. `Maniac' and `Nightmare in a Damaged Brain' are perfect examples and so is this little gruesome tale. The Prowler doesn't outshine the mainstream horror movies when it comes to plot, characters or twists…but it does show some nauseating and hard to digest sequences. The film also has a pretty atmospheric and mood-setting opening. We learn how young WWII soldiers return to the US after the war. One of them finds a letter of his high-school sweetheart upon his arrival in which she's dumping him. During the Graduation celebration of her school, the girl (Rosemary) and her new boyfriend are brutally slaughtered by pitchfork. 35 years later, the town finally decides to organize a new school-dance. Unfortunately, this event also causes the return of the army-uniformed madman. The characters aren't exactly intriguing and the climax is far from surprising, but the brutality of the killings is definitely worth it. We're even treated to lovely head-explosion that lives up to the one in Maniac. Thank you Tom Savini! Compared with the overload of polite and ethically correct (read = boring) slashers, the Prowler looks fresh and very entertaining. Director Joseph Zito also signed for one of the better F13 sequels as well as a few over-the-top Chuck Norris action flicks. I took me quite some time to finally find The Prowler and I feel no shame in recommending it to real horror fans. If you can't stand blood or in case you have a sensitive throat, this film will not leave a good impression behind. Otherwise…enjoy!
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