November 6, 1981
Neal Barbera and Glenn Leopold
Vicky Dawson as Pam MacDonald
Christopher Goutman as Mark London
Lawrence Tierney as Maj. Chatham
Farley Granger as Sheriff George Fraser
Cindy Weintraub as Lisa
Let’s get one thing perfectly straight here. In reality, only a very few horror movies have actually shocked me. There have only been a few horror films I’ve seen that severely affected me – the mark of a truly great horror flick.
Of course I’m not the only one here that would list Jaws in that category as well. Don’t lie! You still think you’re gonna get devoured by a giant shark if you jump in a river, or a pool for that matter… Another film that is particularly personal to me is Stephen King’s IT, thanks to a sneaky late night viewing at age 6 which turned into a lifetime fear! Then there is the other side of the spectrum, movies which are so graphic and disturbing that they are hard to even get through, like Cannibal Holocaust. I still haven’t had a repeat view of that one and honestly don’t know that I ever will.
There is a B-slasher rarity that also crosses that chasm to the intensely shocking, a little known gem called The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer internationally. I read something before my initial viewing which called The Prowler “The cruelest and most graphic horror movie ever”. Ok, yes, with the advent of newer modern computer effects and “torture porn” horror, you could argue that something from 1981 may not stack up in the SFX shock department, but you would be quite surprised. Thanks to some truly sickening effects by gore master Tom Savini, in what he personally cites as one of his favorite projects, The Prowler absolutely raised the gore bar for the time. There are actually a couple of times while watching the film that I feared I was watching a snuff film – I even looked up one of the actors on IMDb to make sure he was still alive…. That’s how realistic and god awful some of the scenes are.
In terms of story, though, there is really not much original to be found in this film… Pretty standard set up really with a story virtually identical to that of My Bloody Valentine. After WWII, a young soldier returns home to find his girlfriend has left him, so he proceeds to slaughter her and her new boyfriend under cover of darkness, and quietly slips away on the night of the big dance. The dance is held off for many years after the massacre until finally the town decides to hold another dance… and guess who comes back to join the party? Naturally, bodies begin to pile up in typical slasher style, only a bit more graphically. There is also a LONG list of possible suspects.
The Prowler may not be one of the best films out there by any stretch, but if you want to see truly over the top, gory, overdone death scenes made by everyone’s favorite makeup madman, Uncle Tom, then give this one a watch. Not sure if you will want to watch it again after that! Its pretty damn gruesome, even by today’s standards.