Thursday, August 20, 2009

Film Review: THE PROWLER (1981, Joseph Zito)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 89 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: SFX by Tom Savini, Starring Lawrence Tierney (RESERVOIR DOGS, DILLINGER), Farley Granger (STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT), Vicky Dawson (ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIALS).
Tag-lines: "It will freeze your blood."
Best one-liner: "Hey, who turned off the band?"

THE PROWLER's a mediocre 80's slasher with some spectacular, eye-popping gore FX by Tom Savini. But in a decade where the bar for teenage horror has been set so high (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, PHANTASM II, etc.), mediocre doesn't really cut it. The butchery and bloodshed are indeed squirmingly realistic, but I couldn't give two sh*ts about the plot or characters. So, though THE PROWLER's gore might be more accomplished from a technical standpoint, in retrospect, I found myself recalling more readily scenes from MANIAC! or DAY OF THE DEAD, where the gore helped move the story along- not the other way around. Now the film does build a palpable nighttime atmosphere and has a killer that's kind of like Tom Berenger in PLATOON + Jason Voorhees, but I'm kinda bored with this.

Director Joseph Zito went on to bigger and better things with FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV and a tenure as one of Cannon Films' artists in residence (MISSING IN ACTION, INVASION U.S.A., and he was supposed to helm the scrapped Golan-Globus SPIDERMAN), but this slasher here is so 'through the motions' (especially so for 1981, long before the genre became stale) that it's immensely disappointing. Still, I would ordinarily be giving this three stars for the immaculate carnage and pitchfork swingin' G.I. (not to mention the double-barreled shotgun blast to the face that clearly inspired a similar scene in WILD AT HEART),

so why only two? Well, let's see. At the beginning of this film, I was promised a leading role from classic Hollywood mean drunk and all-around tough guy Lawrence Tierney. Instead, I get nearly no Tierney at all. I got more Tierney in SILVER BULLET. So I gotta take a star away.

And, let's face it, you're getting off easy- Tierney would have broken a bottle over your head or something. Two stars.

-Sean Gill

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