streaming horror the prowler

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October we’ll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today’s entry: The Prowler (1981).

The Prowler
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Sub-Genre: ’80s Slasher

Best Setting to Watch It In: In beautiful Cape May, New Jersey

How Scary Is It?: It’s loaded with gory slasher scares

Joseph Zito, director of the much-loved Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, helmed this gore-filled slasher flick that deserves more attention. The Prowler has the standard slasher formula – a group of youths get stalked and brutally murdered. But The Prowler doesn’t feel like other slashers of the era, primarily because the whole movie has a weird, hazy quality to it, like watching a half-remembered dream soaked in blood.

The killer is a World War II veteran on the prowl, still sore about getting a Dear John letter from his girlfriend back in the ’40s. Decades later, in 1981, a big college graduation dance is about to held in the seaside town of Avalon, California (although the movie was actually filmed in Cape May, New Jersey, where I used to vacation with my family every summer as a kid). A graduation dance means a bunch of young people will be out and about, and horny to boot. Which makes them prime targets for the prowler.

You don’t come to this sort of movie for plot or storytelling – you come looking for the kills. And you’ll get them, and then some. Heads get blown off, bayonets get shoved straight through skulls, pitchforks are jammed into torsos. The legendary Tom Savini provided the make-up effects here (and actually considers his work in The Prowler to be among his best), and they’re particularly gruesome and brutal. As the slasher craze ticked on through the 1980s, there was a heightened absurdity to the violence on display, divorcing it from reality. That’s not the case here – the kills have a cruel realism that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

There aren’t any great stand-out characters here. Even the killer’s look is kind of drab, and nowhere near as iconic as the slashers that followed. Yet The Prowler is exactly the type of gory fun to experience around Halloween time, and then promptly forget about for the rest of the year.

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