1981’s The Prowler is almost a perfect lost slasher. It has a distinctly “My Bloody Valentine” vibe to it. It has a lead chick with a distinctly Amy Steel vibe to her—she even hides under a bed and has a rat scurry around her face, although, disappointingly, she doesn’t pee herself. Plus, the film is loaded with atmosphere, suspense, wickedly gory kills, and chase scenes galore.
It also happens to begin with the traditional flashback prologue, going all the way back to 1945, nearly two decades before Michael Myers was born! We find out our killer’s motive—some be-otch dumps him while he’s off fighting World War II. But don’t worry. This freaky killer in army attire with a mesh mask over his face and a pitchfork in hand gets his revenge at a dance and leaves a rose behind as a token of his undying (or in this case, dying) love.
Flash ahead to 1980, and a bunch of kids are preparing for the first dance in 35 years. And all the normal clichés apply. The girls flash some tits. We get the killer POV. There’s a shower scene. There’s a peeping Tom. There are false scares. And DAMN are there some gruesome deaths before long. The Prowler truly is gore-iffic. Plus, as soon as we get to the dance, it has an awesome nu-rock song that is SO 80s. Of course I immediately researched, found out the band is called Nowherefast, and ordered their classic 80s album.
When our main girl is finally alone, the eerie synth chord begins. This is one deliciously tense stalker scene that leads to what is essentially one big chase scene for the remainder of the film, with the main girl and the town deputy trying to stop this killer. There’s an eerie mansion, there’s naturally dark lighting, shadows, furniture covered in sheets, a quickly rising body count, a trip to the cemetery, an open grave…the pacing is perfect.
That is until it all comes to a grinding halt. Amongst the nonsense going on, the main girl and deputy head back to the mansion and search it all over again. And for absolutely no logical reason, the deputy skips a room at the top of the steps that has a partially opened door and a light on…a room he skipped the first time around! Take a guess where the killer is hiding….
After the final confrontation, we are treated to one of the stupidest final scares ever—which may have been the blueprint for all the stupid final scares that have come since. The real downside is that it doesn’t even imply a sequel. Of course, this was released the same year as Halloween 2 and Friday the 13th Part 2, so the filmmakers probably just had no idea what a franchise was or that they could have had an iconic killer named Corporal Punisher on their hands….