Home » The Prowler Boasts Brutal Kills and a Twisted Ending [Retrospective]

The Prowler Boasts Brutal Kills and a Twisted Ending [Retrospective]

The Prowler

The Prowler sees young Rosemary making the ill-fated decision to abandon her lover who is serving in the war. She puts her goodies on display for all the boys to see by flaunting her stuff at the graduation dance. When her scorned lover makes an unexpected return and finds her giving it up to one of the local boys, he snaps and kills Rosemary and her new lover. 35 years later, the small New Jersey town makes the decision to host its first graduation dance since that fateful night. But Rosemary’s killer is still on the loose and he does not want to see that dance happen.

The Prowler is a 1981 slasher film that was also known as Rosemary’s Killer. It parallels the skeletal outline of My Bloody Valentine very closely. But the two films were released within a matter of months of one another, so, it’s likely just an uncanny coincidence that the two features are so similar in their basic setup. Regardless of the reason for the similarities to My Bloody Valentine, the two features are different enough that both are well worth seeing.

The Prowler is reminiscent of the excessively violent  giallo films of the 1970s. The killer’s identity is not revealed until the end of the film. He is the last person that the viewer would expect. And he is someone that the audience is very familiar with. This type of misdirection was a staple of the giallo genre.

Joseph Zito (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) directed this 1981 slasher effort and it proves to be an above average horror film. There are several redirects and ample red herrings that keep the viewer in the dark about the killer’s true identity until the final scenes of the film. The stalk and slash scenes are impressive and much more intense than a lot of horror films from this era. The kills are spaced out perfectly, so as to hold the viewer’s attention and keep them interested. Zito shows a knack for creating atmosphere with cinematography and lighting. The tension is thick and the mood is very atmospheric.

The only thing that I didn’t really dig about this film is the score. It is definitely nothing special. It’s not awful. But the score is well below the standard of creepy brilliance that was set by film like Halloween and Tourist Trap. If anything could have elevated The Prowler, it would have been a standout score to intensify the bountiful bloodshed.

Also See: Why Terror Train is a Surprisingly Innovative Slasher

The body count is high and the death scenes are well timed. They are extremely violent, over the top, and totally awesome. This film features some of the most gleefully violent and truly creative special effects of the early ‘80s. The legendary Tom Savini outdid himself when he orchestrated the makeup FX for The Prowler.

There is ample nudity in The Prowler. There is even more than was necessarily custom of a 1980s slasher. Fans of gratuitous display of bare skin will certainly not be disappointed by the bountiful display of nubile coeds in various states of undress this film has to offer.

If you haven’t checked this one out yet, The Prowler is more than worth 90-minutes of your time. The Blue Underground DVD release of the film features a very nice transfer of the feature, good sound quality, an informative commentary with Joseph Zito and Tom Savini, and a behind the scenes look at the makeup effects used in the film.


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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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