“The Prowler” (1981)


Studio: Sandhurst
Starring: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney, Farley Granger
Directed by: Joseph Zito
Rated: R
Running Time: 89 min.

Synopsis: A killer stalks students at a graduation dance that might be the same killer of two from thirty-five years ago.


Chris Woods

This is another film I waited awhile to see and finally got a chance to recently. It wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. It had some good moments but most of the movie really dragged. This film directed by Joseph Zito (who went on to directed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and a bunch of Chuck Norris films) and special effects by Tom Savini could have been a great horror film but it just didn’t deliver.

The film has a good start, taking place in 1945. The war is over and the town is having a huge graduation dance for its college graduates. There’s a part before the dance where someone is reading a Dear John letter that is sent to a G.I. over seas. The girl who wrote it, Rosemary, is at the dance with her new boyfriend. They decide to ditch the dance and make out somewhere. The two end up getting murdered and the killer is never found and the annual graduation dance is put to an end.

Fast-forward to 35 years later, where the town people decide after all this time to restart the annual dance and the college kids are very excited. The town is so small that it is run by only two sheriff officers. They get a call from the state police saying there’s a dangerous man on the loose not too far from their town and to be on the look out. The sheriff feels they’ll be all right and goes on a weekend fishing trip and leaves his deputy in charge.

As the dance begins the murders start happening. The first is by far the best scene in the film, where a woman is taking a shower in her dorm room and her boyfriend is waiting for her in her bedroom. The boy is killed by a large blade going through his skull then the woman is stabbed in the shower by a pitchfork.

After that the film really drags and they are a few things that make no sense, like when the heroine of the movie is running away from the killer and a man in a wheelchair grabs her by the arm. The guy turns out to be Rosemary’s father, the girl that was murdered in 1945 at the dance. The father lives next door to the woman’s dorm and he is not seen for the rest of the film and is not part of the murders at all. They are scenes of the deputy and heroine going through his house looking for the killer or going through a cemetery looking for some kind of clues. There are a lot of scenes with these two just looking around not finding anything and no sign of the killer. There’s one more suspenseful scene where a woman is killed in a swimming pool, but that’s about it.

SPOILER ALERT: Before watching this film I did read a few write ups and reviews of the film which were not that good, but still wanted to see for myself. I already knew who the killer was from things that I read and clips of the film I seen. At the end the killer turns out to be the sheriff who gets his head blown off by a shotgun (it’s a cool effects scene) but it’s never explained why he did it. From reading up on the film it said that the sheriff was the G.I. that was getting the Dear John letter from Rosemary and murders her and her boyfriend. Nowhere is that said in the film.

Also there’s a strange scene at the end where the heroine goes back to her dorm and discovers her friend killed in the shower along with the girl’s boyfriend who is hanging by his neck in there. As the woman goes over to the bodies the boyfriend tries to grab her while his eyes are all white. The woman jumps back and screams. She looks at it again and the boyfriend is no longer reaching for her and is dead. Not sure if he just finally died at that moment or she just imagined it. Then the film ends.

The movie was also called Rosemary’s Killer and The Graduation. The film could have been much better. It had a great setting and look and some pretty good actors. The story was a good idea but was not executed well. The big thing was all the scenes that dragged forever, that’s what killed the film for me.