3.9/10
557
37 user 24 critic

The Prey (1983)

R | | Horror | 2 November 1984 (USA)
Six campers jaunt off to North Point, where they're promptly stalked and killed by a ghoulish man who ultimately is just looking for a little love.

Director:

Edwin Brown (as Edwin Scott Brown)

Writers:

Summer Brown (screenplay), Edwin Brown (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Debbie Thureson Debbie Thureson ... Nancy
Steve Bond ... Joel
Lori Lethin ... Bobbie
Robert Wald Robert Wald ... Skip
Gayle Gannes Gayle Gannes ... Gail
Philip Wenckus Philip Wenckus ... Greg
Jackson Bostwick ... Mark O'Brien
Jackie Coogan ... Lester Tile
Connie Hunter Connie Hunter ... Mary Sylvester
Ted Hayden Ted Hayden ... Frank Sylvester
Garry Goodrow Garry Goodrow ... Sgt. Parsons
Carel Struycken ... The Monster
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Storyline

Six campers jaunt off to North Point, where they're promptly stalked and killed by a ghoulish man who ultimately is just looking for a little love. Written by Brian J. Wright <bjwright@acs.ucalgary.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's not human, and it's got an axe!

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

...und der Tod wartet schon See more »

Filming Locations:

Idyllwild, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (uncut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was shot over the course of two weeks. See more »

Goofs

Characters' voices don't match lip movement; numerous instances within the first 5-10 minutes. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 80 minute American version contains the following scenes/shots that were deleted from the longer international print:
  • Extra shots of Frank and Mary Sylvester eating dinner.
  • After Bobbie asks "Bears?," it immediately cuts to a shot of a bear, followed by shots of a woodpecker and a snake.
  • During the campfire scene, there's additional talk of the constellations.
  • During the campfire scene there are additional shots of a centipede, a snake, an owl and ants.
  • During the campfire scene, Joel rehashes W. W. Jacobs' famous short story "The Monkey's Paw."
  • While the campers are making love, Mark sits in his cabin playing a banjo.
  • As dawn breaks, the camera pans down to reveal Nancy and Joel asleep at the foot of a cliff.
  • Mark tells a baby deer the story of the wide-mouthed frog.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sixty minutes of mostly-filler material give way to a surprisingly manic final twenty
17 December 2018 | by drownnnsodaSee all my reviews

In the greatest of 1980s-backwoods slasher traditions, "The Prey" follows a group of youthful campers who are exploring the Colorado Rockies. Little do they know, their hiking destination is also the stomping ground for a deformed killer disfigured in a forest fire decades prior.

Notorious for its convoluted production and release history (it seems few patent fact can be said in regard to either of these things; conflicting accounts from cast members abound, and director Edwin Scott, who made a name for himself in pornography, has never really commented on the film), "The Prey" is a film that I have affection for in spite of the fact that it's really quite badly put-together. The premise is very by-the-books so far as slashers are concerned, but the simplicity of it is strangely engaging. It's straightforward, no-frills, and good fun.

The film opens with a textbook nighttime slashing of an older camping couple before cutting to the youthful campers who are venturing into the same woods. The mountainous settings are remarkably atmospheric, at times recalling the also-maligned "Don't Go in the Woods" and the masterful "Just Before Dawn" (the latter is a far better film than "The Prey"; the former, not so much). The cinematography helps this significantly, and there is a true sense of wildness and danger as the characters venture through the barren terrain.

Where the film suffers quite remarkably is in its pacing, which is weighed down by repetitive, drawn-out stock footage of nature and wildlife. It's appropriate insofar as the "man vs. wild" theme is concerned here, but the director beats the audience over the head with it to the point of delirium. Given the film's brisk 80-minute runtime, it becomes clearer and clearer as the film plods along that the filmmakers really didn't know what they were doing, hence the proliferation of filler material. Also present is a flimsy storyline involving a park ranger and his boss (played by film legend Jackie Coogan) who relays the folktale about the killer and his origins.

An extended version of the film which runs 96 minutes was released in international markets, and this cut included an elongated backstory charting the villain's origins in a gypsy commune that burned to the ground after an act of arson; this is merely alluded to in the most widely available cut. The extended prologue also features drawn-out soft-core sex scenes between the gypsy villagers that ostensibly recall the director's previous talents as an adult filmmaker. This cut eliminates most of the filler nature footage, but I'd argue the shoehorned backstory renders it an actually worse film.

For all of its problems though, I do find "The Prey" to be worthwhile based merely on the last 20 minutes, which ramp up to be unspeakably tense. In a film that has managed to be so languorous and dull for its first hour, the final scenes achieve a sort of manic terror that is palpable and startling. The problem of course is that it takes an hour before any sort of tension really begins to come off the screen, but I'm not sure we could have one without the other-if the majority of the film wasn't as uneventful as it is, the finale likely wouldn't have the same impact it does by comparison.

Overall, I understand the qualms people have with the film, and it is fundamentally bad, but I can't help myself from admiring it for its finale, which manages to explode into a state of anxiety and fear that is both unexpected and masterful. Oh, and did I mention the gleefully demented final shot? Stock filler and cheapjack production aside, "The Prey" has a good film somewhere in it, buried under missed opportunities and wasted time. 6/10.


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