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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisly but unimaginative
When I learned of another horror film boasting special effects work from Tom Savini, I knew I had to see it as quickly as possible. Fortunately, Blue Underground gave the film, 1981's "The Prowler," their usual careful and comprehensive treatment. Founded by veteran horror director William Lusting ("Maniac," "Uncle Sam," and "Maniac...
Published on Dec 27 2003 by Jeffrey Leach

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3.0 out of 5 stars Pitchforks and Bayonets and Knives... Oh My!
** Contains Minor Spoilers **

A group of students are ruthlessly murdered by a grudge holding killer dressed as a soldier and armed with every sharp object he can get his vindictive little hands on. The charming prologue set in the mid 40's, hints of revenge after a WWII soldier receives a break up letter from his sweetheart named Rosemary. During her...
Published 4 months ago by E. Valero


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisly but unimaginative, Dec 27 2003
By 
Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prowler (DVD)
When I learned of another horror film boasting special effects work from Tom Savini, I knew I had to see it as quickly as possible. Fortunately, Blue Underground gave the film, 1981's "The Prowler," their usual careful and comprehensive treatment. Founded by veteran horror director William Lusting ("Maniac," "Uncle Sam," and "Maniac Cop"), Blue Underground makes it their mission in life to dig up obscurities and re-release them uncut and with loads of extras. Perhaps my memory is deceiving me at the moment, but I have yet to see a DVD from this company that fails to provide a spectacular presentation. The movies themselves might be mediocre, as is the case with "The Prowler" in certain aspects, but for horror film fans the company has been a godsend. While I am slowly working my way through their back catalog, I look forward to future DVDs from Blue Underground.
Directed by Joseph Zito ("Missing in Action," Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter"), "The Prowler" meanders through territory instantly familiar to fans of slasher films released in the early 1980s. The folks of some small town out in the sticks abandoned their annual dance after a psychotic soldier went on a bloody rampage back in the 1940s. Turns out that his sweetheart sent him one of those obnoxious 'Dear John' letters and the guy flipped. He returned home, suited up in his army gear (uniform, mask, helmet, bayonet, and even though I never realized it was standard issue, a pitchfork), and proceeded to wreak bloody havoc on his ex-lover and her newly acquired boyfriend. We learn all about this in the typical opening sequence, the one that sets the stage for the obligatory flash forward to a group of modern day teenagers who will soon become cannon fodder for a series of outrages committed by the returning soldier. Sound familiar yet? It should, but fortunately for "The Prowler" most of what we see is well above average in the gore department, thanks to the tender loving attentions of Tom Savini.
O.K., flash forward thirty or so years to the modern day (in this case, 1980 or so) where we see a bunch of kids with hilariously feathered coifs--who look a lot older than your average teenagers--getting ready to throw the first dance since the unfortunate incidents of the 1940s. Oh, a few killjoys mumble ominously about the potential for new atrocities, but they fall mostly on deaf ears because kids these days just don't want to listen to their elders. Most people, however, just aren't all that worried about new killings. Heck, even the sheriff (played by Farley Granger) chuckles benevolently about the party and then promptly announces he is going to take a fishing trip. He decides to leave his young deputy in charge of the town, even though a report about a robbery/murder in a village up the road presents a slight possibility of violence moving into the area. Who cares, though? With the sheriff heading out of town, the kids expect to indulge in a night of alcohol, promiscuity, and dancing. No one gives the deputy much thought since he is a young guy just learning the ropes. Again, we have seen all of this before in one way or another.
The nightmare begins awfully fast as the soldier of yesteryear returns in grand style, sporting that trademark pitchfork along with a bayonet the size of William Wallace's sword. Kids die by the boatload before the alarm goes out, but one of the girls teams up with the young deputy (surprise!) and the two begin to search for the killer. In the meantime, the soldier goes on a massive killing spree, impaling people on that darned pitchfork and getting some mileage out of the bayonet. In one scene, definitely ranking as one of the grimmest in the film, the masked maniac drives his bayonet straight through a guy's head while the victim judders and jitters like some sort of demented marionette. Another gory scene takes place in a swimming pool, when a young lady decides to take a swim and runs right into our demented soldier. And wouldn't you know it? In vivid close up he swipes that old knife right across her throat with the greatest of ease. Yuck! The capper, though, occurs near the end when Savini attempts another exploding head scene ala "Maniac." Regrettably, the attempt pales in comparison to the effect in Lustig's grisly film, but Savini's heart is in the right place and it still looks nasty. Overall, "The Prowler" is a step up from other gory films of its period. Zito attempted to make this film more sadistic and colorful, and he largely succeeded. Unfortunately, the extended stalk and slash scenes run on far too long; so long, in fact, that any tension built up melts away while the scene is still unfolding. The tendency to overplay the suspense card, along with cardboard cutout characters we could care less about, significantly hampers the overall effectiveness of "The Prowler."
The Blue Underground DVD is awesome. Extras include a commentary with Joseph Zito and Tom Savini (!), a poster and still gallery, a trailer, and a behind the scenes look at Savini's gore effects. Attention: you MUST watch this behind the scenes footage. I know a lot of the featurettes on DVDs aren't very good, but this one is a winner. Not only do we see how Savini pulled off his grisly effects, we see them acted out in horrific detail. Even though you know what you are seeing is fake, it still looks gruesome in the extreme. Especially noteworthy is the swimming pool scene, which goes on for an eternity in the featurette. To top it all off, "The Prowler" is in widescreen. This isn't a unique film, but the DVD should appeal to horror fans everwhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated, unusual slasher gets A-grade DVD treatment, Sept. 30 2003
This review is from: The Prowler (DVD)
To say THE PROWLER is any kind of great film is simply untrue. However, the whole thing has an eerie, unsettling, dream-like quality to it that carries it through the slower patches and makes the film's near-total lack of coherency and logic much easier to take. The tension is kept taught throughout, and with top-notch scoring, photography, gore effects and direction, makes for a surprisingly effective and repeatable horror film. Just make sure you watch it in the dead of night! The Blue Underground DVD has a fine anamorphic transfer that is as good as the original negatives will allow, some fascinating on-set footage of the make-up effects, an impressive stills and poster gallery that is definitely worth ploughing through and a superb, hugely entertaining commentary with director Joseph Zito and make-up maestro Tom Savini. Very much recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most creative death scenes to date..., Nov. 24 2002
By 
RICK BRINLEY (DESOTO, MO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prowler (Widescreen) (DVD)
As a long time fan of slasher films, I have been disappointed with the Friday the 13th series and the Nightmare on Elm street series and not to mention the Halloween series. The more sequels there are, the more outragous the storylines. Its a insult to the viewers intelligence. The Prowler, is straight and to the point...to the point of a large pitchfork that is. This movie is what a true fan of horror/slasher films is looking for. The murder scenes are very elaborate and very creative. With special effects by the master Tom Savini (creepshow, Friday the 13th) its a rollercoaster ride of who done its.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pitchforks and Bayonets and Knives... Oh My!, Aug. 15 2014
By 
E. Valero "Eterno" (Woodbridge, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Prowler [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
** Contains Minor Spoilers **

A group of students are ruthlessly murdered by a grudge holding killer dressed as a soldier and armed with every sharp object he can get his vindictive little hands on. The charming prologue set in the mid 40's, hints of revenge after a WWII soldier receives a break up letter from his sweetheart named Rosemary. During her graduation dance, she, along with her new beau, are savagely murdered by what appears to be an angry soldier wielding a pitchfork.

This slick little chiller is better than your average slasher film thanks to several tension filled moments, great atmosphere and of course Savini's great gore effects. The body count here is not as high as you might expect. It definitely isn't greater to other genre films like "Friday the 13th" (and it's gazillion sequels), "My Bloody Valentine" etc however the murder sequences, in some instances are a bit more explicit as they are elaborately played out in front of our curious eyes. There are many gory highlights that showcase Tom Savini's great gore and make-up effects. Some are quite nauseating. Where the film falls short is with some of the performances. This should be expected since mediocre performances permeate slashers of the time period. The pacing also could have used a bit of work. Although the film starts off great and the first half hour is tension filled with some messy demises, viewers may loose interest half way through as it slows down quite a bit and the characters are not interesting enough to keep us interested.

If you can get past the negatives, "The Prowler" is still a pretty decent chiller. Savini's gore effects reign supreme here and fans of the genre should not be disappointed. Not to mention, the actual killer himself is pretty creepy and there is a scene, when one of the characters opens a door, only to be greeted by this soldier of doom, face blacked out, voice inaudible, holding out a rose to give to her before he attempts to cut her to pieces.That scene always manages to send a chill up my spine. As a slasher film, this is gory good. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A gory classic from the slasher heyday of the early 1980s, June 2 2010
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prowler (DVD)
If you're making a list of must-see 80s slashers, The Prowler should definitely be one of them. Yeah, the plot isn't all that great, the pace of the movie drags in places, and several questions ultimately go unanswered - but I was genuinely surprised at the identity of the killer (who is pretty intimidating in his killing garb), the lead actress is fairly cute, and - as is always important for us gorehounds - I was absolutely delighted at the spectacle of blood and gore on display. The filmmakers really let makeup/special effects genius Tom Savini go hog wild. Where other slasher movies give you a quick cut shot of a knife slicing a neck open or a pitchfork going all the way through a body, The Prowler lingers deliciously on such gruesome sights. You get to see that last little convulsion as he raises a skewered body up, with the tines of the pitchfork scraping against the tile; you watch him working his knife back and forth as if he has trouble removing it from his victim's neck - it's these little details that show you just how much Savini cares about his gruesome craft. Admittedly, one death is wholly and patently fake, but you still have to appreciate the effort and intent of the shot.

The story begins in 1945, when a young woman and her beau are ruthlessly murdered on the night of the big college graduation dance; while their killer was never caught, it is made quite obvious that the murderer was the young woman's former boyfriend, to whom she had sent a Dear John letter while he was still fighting overseas. 35 years later, the college prepares for the first graduation dance since that awful night. With the sheriff away on a fishing trip, only a pretty boy deputy (Christopher Goutman) and his coed girlfriend (Vicky Dawson) are available to try and stop the returned killer's bloody rampage. 35 years may have passed, but the killer is still strong enough to shove a knife completely through a young man's skull. Deputy London isn't every good at his job and drags his girlfriend from one dangerous scene to another, but fortunately his little cutie has a lot of spunk - and she needs every bit of it as she comes face to hidden face with the killer, all decked out in his World War II army gear, on several occasions.

Unlike many slasher films, The Prowler actually tries to scare you a little bit, and it does succeed in generating a certain amount of tension in places. Still, the basic storyline isn't particularly noteworthy, and some viewers might complain about a few characters being introduced and then forgotten about for no apparent reason (it's not as if they're red herrings helping to keep the killer's identity a mystery). Speaking of the killer, I never really figured out who it was before the secret was revealed in the end, but a number of viewers probably won't be as dense as I was - and that will obviously take away from their enjoyment of the film. No one can take anything away from Tom Savini's memorable special effects work, though, and that makes The Prowler a must-see film for slasher fans.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ferociously Violent Slasher Film, July 20 2003
This review is from: Prowler (Widescreen) (DVD)
Joseph Zito's relentlessly cruel THE PROWLER is one of the very few memorable films to have emerged from the vast wasteland of 80's era slasher cycle crud. Like THE BURNING and MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE PROWLER tells an undeniably cliche ridden tale but compensates with memorable characters, decent production values, a surprisingly effective musical score and, of course, some of the most inventive and grotesquely realistic murder sequences in the genre. In fact, this may very well be the most violent movie of its ilk ever made. Despite its ferocious gore, this film somehow managed to get an uncensored theatrical release (with an obviously bogus "R" rating).
While there are no real surprises on hand for the horror aficionado, THE PROWLER is so slickly filmed by real craftsmen that it naturally has instant appeal as one of the only competently directed and watchable movies of its kind. If there is such a thing as a "classic" slasher, THE PROWLER is surely one.
The Blue Underground DVD is a highly recommended purchase for fans of this terrific little gorefest. The film is presented in widescreen format (1.85:1) in a nice, colorful transfer, looking much better than it ever has before. Disc extras include trailers, a poster/stills gallery and a fun but brief behind-the-scenes videotaped look at Tom Savini's awesome makeup effects. Best bonus of all is an occasionally raucous audio commentary by Savini and director Joseph Zito, in which the two apparent friends share informative and entertaining tidbits about the film's often chaotic production.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 3/5 OUT 5 OVERALL, July 4 2003
By 
Ted (Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prowler (Widescreen) (DVD)
The Prowler is classic to horror fans and when it came out in early 1981 we witnessed more of Tom Savani's great effects. First off The Prowler is about a World War vet that is over seas and gets a Dear John letter,his girlfriend Rosemary says she can no longer bare the pain of having to wait for him,so she told him she found someone else and moved on with her life. In 1945 a graduation dance is held and a couple is brutally murdered with a pitchfork. Years later the town has the graduation dance again but a prowler is on the loose. Could it be the jealous girl,the angry boyfriend,the shrieff,the man that lost his daughter in 1945 at the dance? Its a great coverup of the identity until the end. Lastly the death scenes are brutal unlike Paramounts April Fools,My Bloody Valentine,or Friday The 13th these death scenes are credited with Tom Savani's (1977/DAWN OF THE DEAD,1981/THE BURNING)effects and are all uncut/unedited. There is even a special effects making extra,and trailer,tv spots,picture galleries and great creepy score DON'T MISS THIS CLASSIS OR WILL BE MISSING ONE OF THE BEST HORROR/SLASHERS OF THE EARLY 80'S!
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4.0 out of 5 stars I'll give it a solid 4., June 15 2003
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This review is from: Prowler (Widescreen) (DVD)
If you think you're safe, you're dead wrong! On the night of her graduation dance in 1945, 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. Thirty years later, the dance is held again for the first time since that horrific evening--but something else may have also returned. Back in the eighties one of the unsung secrets of the horror video scene was the little seen shocker 'Rosemary's Killer' (aka 'The Prowler'). Widely available for rent in many UK video shops, horror fans in the know keenly sought out copies to view the welcome collaboration of Joseph Zito and splatter king Tom Savini. Following that initial underground interest the film seemed to disappear from not only the video shop shelves but from the attention of the genre fan, that was until Blue Underground announced that it would be one of their debut release titles. Now more than twenty years later, a whole new generation of horror fans can discover the slasher sleeper gem that is 'The Prowler' It's decent but a little cheesy in some parts. But with so many slasher movies out there what makes 'The Prowler' stand out and justify your deserved attention? Well once we break through the basic regulation genre plot (the only thing original it offers is the plot setting opening sequence) you'll find that the real stars of the show are not in fact the story or even the actors but the collaborative work of director Joseph Zito and effects guru Tom Savini. Zito confidently keeps the pace flowing, carefully building the suspense levels and priming you for 'the fright' with great confidence. He also very welcomingly opens the door for the legendary Savini to take centre stage whenever the blood needs to flow, allowing him to deliver some of perhaps his most classic gore set pieces without having to worry about quick cut editing for all us splatter fans to savour his work. Sure at the end of the day 'The Prowler' is very much [related to]'Friday the 13th' that no one seems to talk about, but like Blue Underground I think it's time fans of the slasher genre rediscovered this bloody gem again. You know what you're getting, so you should also know that you should pick this up. Nice one!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Gore galore, but not much more, March 20 2003
This review is from: Prowler (Widescreen) (DVD)
THE PROWLER (1981): Just after the end of World War II, a small-town graduation dance is halted by a gruesome double murder. Thirty-five years later, the dance is reinstated and a killer dressed in military fatigues begins to rampage through the partygoers.
Thrown together on the cheap by director Joseph Zito and debut screenwriters Glenn Leopold and Neal F. Barbera (son of legendary animation producer Joseph Barbera) as a showcase for makeup master Tom Savini's horrific special effects, THE PROWLER emerges as a real disappointment. Following a terrific pre-credits sequence which evokes the post-war period through a combination of soft-focus cinematography and imaginative production design, the movie segues into a barely adequate contemporary story which unfolds at a snails-pace and is almost completely lacking in suspense. Savini's effects are just as shocking today as they must have seemed in 1981, particularly a mean-spirited twist on the PSYCHO shower murder which positively revels in the victim's blood-spattered torment. But these effects - which are pretty few and far between - are almost all the film has going for it. Despite a paltry 88 minute running time, the feeble storyline is padded beyond distraction by endless scenes in which the two central characters - a deputy sheriff (Christopher Goutman) and a plucky young partygoer (Vicky Dawson) - wander around various locations (the cemetery, an old house, the college dormitory, etc.) in search of clues to the unfolding mystery, culminating in a mind-numbing sequence involving an unhelpful motel clerk which seems to last forever and serves only the flimsiest of narrative purposes! The young cast are all pretty nondescript, though top-billing is reserved for Farley Granger (a long way from STRANGERS ON A TRAIN!), who provides an extended cameo as the local sheriff. Lawrence Tierney (RESERVOIR DOGS) also receives a major credit, but he has no dialogue and is on-screen for less than a minute! The movie is technically competent, but it fails to generate a sense of dramatic urgency and relies too heavily on a small number of graphic set-pieces, though Richard Einhorn's tinny music score - played by what sounds like a five-piece orchestra! - does its best to disguise the cracks in the narrative. Ultimately, THE PROWLER is recommended only for Savini-worshippers and slasher completists.
Blue Underground's all-region disc - which runs 88m 9s - restores the movie to its original widescreen dimensions (1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced) for the first time on home video, though the image is crawling with grain, particularly during daylight sequences. Sound format is 2.0 mono. There are no captions or subtitles. Extras include a series of clips from Tom Savini's home movies which chronicle the filming of the various makeup effects, offering ghoulish confirmation of the film's entire raison d'etre. Savini joins director Zito for a fascinating audio commentary in which they admit the movie's shortcomings, but they also have fond memories of the production and many of the people involved in its creation. The two men later collaborated on FRIDAY THE 13th THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984), which is everything THE PROWLER is not - stylish, suspenseful and genuinely frightening.
NB. THE PROWLER was released overseas as ROSEMARY'S KILLER, and the excellent British quad poster design is replicated on an insert included with Blue Underground's DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rosemary's Killer, Feb. 24 2003
This review is from: Prowler (Widescreen) (DVD)
In Australia and the United Kingdom too I think, this movie is called Rosemary's Killer. In America it is ofcourse called the Prowler. I personally like the title Rosemary's Killer better. I just bought an ex rental of the movie and unfortunately is not the best of copies but it is better than nothing. I can't say what the DVD is like because I haven't seen it, but I have seen the movie. I recommend it a lot. It is one of the best horror films out there. It was made when horror films were in their prime. Back in the early eighties when they were turning them out like sausages.
The story is about a young woman who is dating a GI and she writes him a letter ending their relationship. The soldier returns home from World War II and he finds his girlfriend and her new lover in a gazebo and impales them on a pitchfork.
Jump to 35 years into the future and a graduation day is coming up.For some reason this triggers Rosemary's Killer into action again and more murders occur. The killer sticks a knife through the top of a man's head, pitchforks another in a shower, almost severs the head of a girl in a pool. The special effects are great, I would go so far as to say they are the best. They are created by Tom Savini who is much better at horror effects than he is at acting.
Just before the murders occur the sheriff tells his deputy that he is going on a fishing trip.Then the murders start occuring. The only person that could have been old enough in the picture to have done the murders of Rosemary and her new boyfriend was one man.Once you got that down the identity of the killer is pretty obvious although I will say when I found out it did shock me even though it should've been obvious to me. I must have been caught up in the movie.This movie is more gory than the Friday the 13ths, even the final chapter. I don't understand why the Friday the 13ths should be cut more if they were than this.So maybe would have been considered less popular and therefore didn't bother to censor it as much.
I agree with one review. It is not clear what the reason is for the killer to start killing again. Maybe it is simply a graduation.
Be warned-this movie is how it should be. It is a little slow in some places, but the gore makes up for that.
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The Prowler [Blu-ray]
The Prowler [Blu-ray] by Joseph Zito (Blu-ray - 2010)
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