Friday, July 9, 2010

THE PROWLER (Blu-Ray)

"I want you to be my date, Rose...."

Directed by Joseph Zito (FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER, INVASION U.S.A., RED SCORPION) with excellent make-up gore effects by Tom Savini (FRIDAY THE 13th, CREEPSHOW), THE PROWLER (1981) is an effective, well-made stalk 'n slay horror film that probably deserves to be better-remembered than it is. Fortunately, Blue Underground is about to re-issue it in high def, where, hopefully, fans of 80s slasher films will be able to rediscover it and all it's bloody glory.

The film begins in 1945 in the small college town of Avalon Bay. On the night of the graduation dance, a pretty co-ed and her date are brutally murdered by someone wearing the uniform of a U.S. Infantryman. In 1980, the college is about to hold its first graduation dance since that night, and soon, a murderer is prowling the area, dressed in WWII combat gear and wielding a bayonet and pitchfork, brutally slaying young women all across campus....

The direction is slick and suspenseful, the performances (by a cast comprised mostly of soap opera thesps) are adequate, and the old school special make-up effects by Savini are astounding, creating some disturbingly realistic illusions of violent death without the assistance of any computer trickery. The story is well-structured with plenty of red herrings, if not too many surprises. If it has any fault, it's a notable absence of humor, black or otherwise. Of course, this early in the "slasher cycle" the films were all still taking themselves pretty seriously; the self-aware spoofery of later psycho killer films hadn't yet manifested in the genre.

Blue Underground's new HD reissue of THE PROWLER is gorgeous, with a flawless, 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. Audio options include 7.1 DTS, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX, and the original Mono. Bonus features are relatively thin - there's an interesting commentary track by Zito and Savini, "Behind the Scenes Gore Footage" courtesy of Savini, and the original theatrical trailer.

While not a classic of the horror genre, THE PROWLER is a better-than-average slasher that delivers the requisite gore and nudity, and does so very professionally. Fans of 80s horror should definitely check it out. Recommended.

BUY: Prowler [Blu-ray]