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Avalon Bay, 1945: On the night of her graduation dance, young Rosemary and her date are brutally murdered by a prowler thought to be a jilted soldier home from the war. The killer was never found. 30 years later, the dance is held again for the first time since that horrific evening - but something else may have also returned Tonight, the teens of this sleepy town will meet their grisly ends at the hands - and pitchfork, blade and more - of THE PROWLER!
For more about The Prowler and the The Prowler Blu-ray release, see the The Prowler Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 25, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Farley Granger, Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Cindy Weintraub, Lawrence Tierney
Director: Joseph Zito
» See full cast & crew
The Prowler Blu-ray Review
Hasn't this movie been made about 1,000 times before?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 25, 2010
A prowler has been seen around the campus.
Stick a killer in a random costume, build some lame-to-generic backstory of someone usually in some way wronged to try and explain things away, kill a naked girl in the shower, slice through a few other teenagers, and voila, a Horror movie is born. The Prowler is formula through and through, a movie that's about five minutes of honest-to-goodness brutality with the rest of it pretty much a bunch of dull but admittedly atmospheric and well-made scenes of people slowly walking around as they look for the killer or try to dig up clues as to how or why he's on a murderous rampage. Despite a complete absence of originality, though, The Prowler isn't half bad for what it is. It's certainly lacking in character development and the killer's identity isn't hard to guess, but the picture is strongly directed by Joseph Zito (Invasion USA); he builds a foreboding and convincing atmosphere and, best of all, makes sure to capture every detail of Tom Savini's (Dawn of the Dead) ooey-gooey special effects work. Still, it's not like those pluses offer much of a reason to watch; plenty of other movies can say the same, so why check out The Prowler instead of "random 1980s low budget Horror movie?" Two reasons: Savini's gore effects really are that good, and if nothing else, The Prowler is a perfect example of low-budget and straightforward Horror formula done about as well as is possible.
It's 1945, and the Second World War has wrapped up. Soldiers are coming home to their friends and families, leaving behind the blood and tears, hoping to reintegrate into society and jumpstart their old lives and routines in the safe, comfortable confines of a loving home and away from the violence of war. For some, however, the war has proven to be more than a physical gruel. Emotional turmoil is rampant, and some soldiers are coming home to find loved ones that have moved on in their absence. One such veteran receives news that his sweetheart, Rosemary, has left him for another man. In Avalon Bay, New Jersey, it's time for the annual graduation dance, but that same returning veteran has other plans. Rather than sing, dance, and drink the night away, he dons his uniform, grabs a bayonet and pitchfork, and kills his ex and her new beau. Fast forward to 1980. The graduation dance hasn't been held since the killings some 35 years ago, but the go-ahead has finally been given to put the past behind and start up that old tradition anew. Of course, it wouldn't be a graduation dance in Avalon Bay without a little bloodletting. As the evening gets underway, the masked prowler once again suits up for a night of bloodcurdling violence and terror.
The Prowler feasts on genre cliché, changing up precious little on the way to 80-some minutes of good old fashioned teenage slaughter. The picture is littered with standard visual, verbal, and physical motifs that, aside from the clothes worn by the killer, do almost nothing to differentiate it from any other random Slasher of its kind. The plot's even highly reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, but truth be told, plot is about the least important element in a cheap-o Slasher flick. Does it really matter the motivation? In a movie like this, the answer is a resounding "no." In fact, there's an argument to be made that were the killings completely random rather than motivated by some past wrong, these types of films might prove a bit more scary rather than predictably run-of-the-mill dull. Hack-n-slash movies are best enjoyed at the most base level, but genre fans will love The Prowler even if it's more or less a carbon copy of the average 1980s Slasher picture. It changes things up just enough to make itself an identifiable individual without maneuvering away from by-the-book story elements. A killer in World War II garb with a grudge isn't a bad idea, but once the movie establishes that motif in its opening minutes, there's not much else, thematically speaking, that makes The Prowler any better or any worse than any old off-the-shelf movie of its kind.
Although a World War II-styled killer wielding a pitchfork doesn't exactly make a whole lot of sense, it does allow for some nifty effects shots and plenty of juicy bloodletting thanks to Tom Savini's exceptional visual effects. There's a scene of a girl that gets pitchforked in a shower that's the best the film has to offer. The effect is completely seamless; it's nasty, lingering, and without remorse, a gut-wrenching, slow, and painful visual that's easily a hallmark of era-specific effects. Nevertheless, the gore in The Prowler -- as it is with most of these types of movies -- is quite tame compared to what's out there in today's string of resurgent hardcore Horror films like Saw VI, Hostel Part II, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is something only each individual viewer can decide. Subjectively speaking, though, there's something more emotionally comforting and visually satisfying about the effective but minimized gore of yore -- the kind featured in The Prowler -- that allows the movie to play along with the escapism fantasies these sorts of movies promote. Something that's too close to the real world could be considered a turnoff to the escapist elements of a Horror picture, such hardcore and explicitly-graphic elements instead serving as blunt reminders of how painful, nasty, cruel, and difficult the world can be. That's not to downplay the role of gore in movies like The Prowler; they obviously exist for "the money shots" -- as do the genre films of today -- but the slowed-down pace and the somewhat more reserved and not quite as convincing effects manage to enthrall, entertain, nauseate, and satisfy viewers without sacrificing entertainment value in the name of gore and violence that's just too awful and real to bear.
The Prowler Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Prowler stalks Blu-ray with a 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer that's, for the most part, nicely realized. Though Blue Underground's transfer is clearly rough around its edges -- this is no The International or Chloe in terms of brilliant and faultless modern day photography translated seamlessly to Blu-ray -- it's hard to ask for much more, all things considered, of a low-budget Horror movie that's pushing 30 years of age. The image is certainly grainy with some accompanying noise in tow, and there's some random speckles, pops, debris, and other assorted maladies that creep into frame from time to time, though they're rarely to the detriment of the viewing experience. The image is certainly not vibrant but it's nevertheless easy on the eyes, despite a somewhat bland and toned down color palette and plenty of dark locales. Black levels sometimes look a bit too bright and sometimes a bit too dark, but never does the transfer fall towards one extreme or the other. Details are adequate at best; faces look flat and absent much definition, and the same may be said of just about any object in any frame throughout the movie. There's definitely a boost in clarity and resolution here over standard definition material, but again, The Prowler is only going to look so good. Aside from some minor banding and blooming, there's not much more room for complaint. Blue Underground's transfer isn't a revelation, but it's a quality offering in its own right.
The Prowler Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Prowler slashes onto Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack as the primary sonic weapon of choice. Despite the "7.1" presentation, there's little to the track that extends beyond the primary front three channels. Music is usually spaced well across the front; what it lacks in absolute clarity and definition it makes up for in effort, and the music accompanying the final minutes of the film somehow seems a bit more aggressive and potent than anything that comes before it. Dialogue is usually strong and crisp, with only a few instances of it coming across as muffled. Ambience is limited to the front; there's not much here that's convincing or audibly enthralling, but the track creates the sort of atmosphere that sets a mood and defines a place but doesn't do so with absolute realism and attention to detail in mind. Sound effects, too, are lacking in space, power, and precision, but several play as particularly messy and indistinct, notably those accompanying a pool attack scene in chapter 13. The low end is rarely put to use outside of a couple of musical selections that are pretty much the only element in the track that provide even a hint that the .1 channel is indeed a part of this presentation. The Prowler isn't a feast for the ears, but never does it drop below the point that its soundtrack becomes an ear sore.
The Prowler Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Prowler's supplements are all about quality rather than quantity. First up is an audio commentary track with Producer/Director Joseph Zito and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini. Theirs is a fun and effortless track, one that's not just technically informative but relaxed in tone and packed with anecdotal and off-the-cuff comments that make it a strong and highly recommendable commentary. Tom Savini's Behind-the-Scenes Gore Footage (480p, 9:34) is a fantastic no-frills, honest-to-goodness behind-the-scenes piece that's free of talking heads and is comprised of nothing but raw footage of the special effects and kills as they work and played out on the set. If only all supplements were as straightforward and worthwhile as this. The final extra is a copy of the film's trailer (480p, 3:48).
The Prowler Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Prowler is a retread Horror flick from the 1980s that doesn't really offer anything new in its genre. A killer in a World War II uniform is cool, but beyond that, this is the definition of a basic Horror movie that sees about five minutes of violence and 80 minutes of characters either getting ready to be killed or walking around looking for their dead friends or searching for clues as to the motivations and whereabouts of the slasher. Frankly, The Prowler's a little too sluggish, but it's still in its own way better than most of the hyperkinetic and ultra-grisly rubbish that passes for Horror these days. No doubt Horror is a delicate genre that seems more susceptible than most to churning carbon copy movie after carbon copy movie, and The Prowler falls squarely into that trap, though it does the usual genre elements -- particularly its atmosphere and gore -- better than most. The best things about The Prowler? Tom Savini's effects are excellent, and the movie is so good at following formula that's arguably one of the definitive movies of its kind. Blue Undergrounds release of The Prowler delivers a small but exceptionally strong collection of extras, and the video and audio presentations are pretty much in-line with what genre fans should reasonably expect of a movie such as this. Recommended to Horror fans.
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The Prowler Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Prowler Blu-ray Announced - April 13, 2010
If you think you're safe – you're DEAD wrong! Blue Underground has officially announced The Prowler for release on Blu-ray on July 27. This 1981 slasher movie (also known as Rosemary's Killer) is especially renowned because of the special effects work by Tom Savini. ...
• The Prowler on Blu-ray for Halloween - February 9, 2010
In an email newsletter from Blue Underground, the studio has informed that it is just now beginning work on the Blu-ray of the 1981 slasher movie The Prowler (also known as Rosemary's Killer) which "should be released by Halloween," completely uncut and uncensored. ...
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