The Prowler (1981)

the prowler poster 1981
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Tom Savini effects

Pretty typical slasher

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Prowler

Studio:  Graduation

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  June 26, 1981 (Premiere)/October 9, 1981 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

the prowler killer rose

The Prowler is a romantic…he’s kind of like The Bachelor of slashers

A 1945 murder at the senior ball in the town of Avalon, California rocked the people and changed the town forever.  Now in 1980, the seniors of Avalon are hoping to bring back the senior ball…but the return of the ball brings the return of a killer.  Pam MacDonald (Vicky Dawson) and Deputy Mark London (Christopher Goutman) find themselves trying to stop a killer as the Prowler hunts his new prey.

Directed by Joseph Zito, The Prowler is a horror slasher thriller.  The movie received mixed reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.

The Prowler was always one of those generic horror movies you’d see on the shelves at the video store growing up.  It didn’t have the excitement of a Freddy, Michael, or Jason and looked like every other horror movie of the time…which led me to never look at it.  Watching The Prowler now, it is a fun ’80s slasher if you need another slasher to watch.

the prowler swimming pool murder

I have to commend the Prowler…he gets right in the pool when other slashers wouldn’t want to get wet

The story is a pretty classic.  You have a mysterious crime followed by the return of a killer decades later.  There were a lot of comparisons between The Prowler and My Bloody Valentine which had a similar plot.  In addition, you have the typical horny horror movie teens that don’t put the right value on their safety (and end up dead as a result).  Also in horror movie cliches, you have one of the victims teaming with someone to try to hunt down the truth…fortunately, this one is wrapped in a bit of a mystery who move the plot forward.

The cast is kind of bland.  Vicky Dawson isn’t the strongest “final girl” (but she in her own way really isn’t a final girl since she’s generally teamed with Christopher Goutman), but she does put up a decent fight.  Goutman also isn’t very effective as the deputy caught filling in on the worst day.  Both Lawrence Tierney and Farley Granger are underused in film that needs a little more meat to it.

the prowler pitchfork vicky dawson

No thank you…we already have a pitchfork

The movie does have the violence aspect going for it.  The effects are provided by Tom Savini and are rather gory (like most of his movies).  This led to censorship in some countries and re-edited versions of the film with miss the gore…and if you are watching something like The Prowler, you kind of need the gore to really boost the appeal for horror fans.

The Prowler feels a bit like more of the same, but as someone who has seen a ton of horror movies and slasher movies, it is always nice to see one that is a little under seen.  The ending of the movie is rather abrupt and could have been fleshed out more, but often with movies like The Prowler, a shorter runtime is the real goal.  If you’ve done the slasher movie over and over again, check out The Prowler for a different take on it…though it generally ends up the same.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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