CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy


The Prowler Joseph Zito 1981

or, "Why We Should Kill Our Children"

Slasher fans have already no doubt realized that 1981 is the most bountiful year for this particular flavor of nasty. You've got your My Bloody Valentine, your Happy Birthday to Me, The Burning, Pranks, Final Exam, The Funhouse, Graduation Day, Hell Night, Just Before Dawn, Night School, Night Warning, and even the first slasher parody, Student Bodies (which, taken in context, is WAY ahead of its time compared to the Scary Movie series). These are all high-quality, well-made slashers, which are nasty enough to raise an eyebrow but also well-written and directed, and each contributes something unique to the deveoping genre standards: Night School brings an anthropological slant to things; The Funhouse brings in nostalgic imagery and slick production values; Hell Night flirts with the supernatural; Just Before Dawn has the "twin" factor, and so on. So in this golden age of slashers, what does The Prowler have to contribute to the fray?

The Prowler tells us, in no uncertain terms, why we should be paying money to see the teenagers of America be put to bloody death. In 90 short minutes, The Prowler presents us with a catalogic essay on just what makes teenagers the hateful, disgusting creatures that they are, and presents an almost exhaustive array of quickly-dispatched specimens to illustrate. Don't go looking for a hero in the bunch: there really isn't one. Even the adored Final Girl character is a complete dud here, and really deserves far worse than she gets. But let's begin way back in 1945....

Type 1: The Commie Slut
Back in 1945, Rosemary writes a wimpy "Dear John" letter to her fella overseas, telling him that she loves him but that she just has to live her life. Like most teenagers, she is a selfish lout -- and soon enough gets what she deserves. On the night of the Avalon Bay Graduation Dance, the self-centered little hooch and her rich boytoy (see Type 2: The Teen with the Overdeveloped Sense of Entitlement) get what's coming to them: namely, a pitchfork in the torso from one of our Men in Uniform. The dance goes on back at the hall for our boys in blue and their dedicated, loyal sweethearts, and the lesson is clear: only communist sluts like Rosemary get garroted in the gazebo by madmen. At least, during wartime, that is.

Type 2: The Teen with the Overdeveloped Sense of Entitlement
Meanwhile, as Rosemary's jilted John is fighting for the freedom of the western nations, Teen Type 2 is flouncing about in fancy cars bought with his father's oil money, wearing white suits, and likely hanging out with people named Chad and Bunny. He has never worked a day in his life, and uses his inherited wealth to lure communist whores from the arms of our GIs. Luckily, he is soon dispatched by an infantryman with a gardening utensil.

Type 3: The Gawky Ho
Everybody knows or has known one: an angular, gawky girl who somehow is convinced that her protruding elbows and bad perm make her irresistable to men. This is a different flavor of Alpha Bitch than is usually seen in teen slashers (usually she's, well -- hot), and here makes a definite statement about how unattractive sexually confident teen women really are. In this case, Lisa (Cindy Weintraub of Humanoids from the Deep) flashes handicapped men and has the utter nerve to dance with the final girl's date and swim alone at night (apparently when you swim alone, you have to repeatedly get in and out of the pool -- every time we cut back to Lisa she's jumping in the damned water again!). Luckily, our military fella nearly cuts her head off before she has the time to do any real damage. But don't think that keeping your hands off other girls' men will keep you safe, ladies -- you can stick to one pole and STILL find yourself at the business end of Mr. Pointy...

Type 3: The Nympho
Next on our list of unattractive teen types is the Nympho, who is much like a diabetic who needs cock instead of insulin. This frottage-crazed lass is distinct from the Gawky Ho in that she usually is somewhat pretty and less severe, and more importantly, she lavishes all of her attentions on one lucky and stamina-enhanced fella. Never too bright and usually boasting incredible breasts, the Nympho is always a sad one to see go: she's rarely hurting anyone and probably already has regular yeast infections to deal with. In this case, our horny lady gets it in the shower, where she is poked -- for once above the belt -- with a pitchfork (an implement not entirely in-line with the military uniform that the killer wears, but we'll go with it). It's even more of a bummer to see this gal go because she was just about to get boned by our next lucky winner...

Type 4: The Meat
This character exists solely to jackhammer the Nympho. He generally has no dialogue, great triceps, and a pleasant disposition. Usually one of the first to go due to his preoccupation with his partner's bacon strip, he will hopefully show some torso and maybe even a buttcheek before getting gutted, decapitated, or what-have-you. In this case we aren't given much to look at save a great set of arms and a very handsome face, and before long he has a dagger plunged straight through his head. Better luck next time, stud! Research into Meat actors generally uncovers a resume filled with roles like "Handsome Man", "Reporter #2", "Sentry", "Sunglasses" and the like, as this actor's does.

Type 5: The Milquetoast
Generally a one-note character, The Milquetoast wishes he were the Meat but is quite frankly too ugly and wussy to pull it off. He's generally burdened with an insatiable sex drive that he tries to satisfy with The Well-Meaning but Stupid Anti-Ho, usually with little success. He totally has it coming because he's not as attractive as his friends and is spineless to boot: call it survival of the fittest. A similar fate awaits his equally loserish mate...

Type 5: The Well-Meaning but Stupid Anti-Ho
This character is usally kept around a little longer as a foil to the Final Girl, but she shows her cards early as being too plucky and needy to survive too long, and her association with the Milquetoast doesn't help her odds. Plain, frumpy, and sometimes even fat (*gasp!*), this girl is the "before" picture in any magazine makeover. In this case she's actually the most likeable character, but her utter stupidity in dating the town dweeb and following him to the basement shows that she gets what she deserves. Likes floral prints and kittens.

Looks like we're getting down the slim pickin's here, folks -- 5 teens down and still not a single one that I'd let live, given the choice. Is there no teen who can stand as a paragon for its kind and pull the stock up a little? Let's see...

Type 6: The Haughty Do-Gooder
This is a teen who has inherited some position of power (usually local law enforcement) from his parents and now is crushed with the near-unbearable weight of the responsibility of cleaning up after his retarded friends (this can also be a girl, as seen in Friday 6: Jason Lives). Marginally more intelligent than the other types, The Haughty Do-Gooder is nonetheless blade-worthy due to his excessive hubris and chronic bad hair (in this case, Mark -- played by soap regular Christopher Goutman -- has a coiffe that any piano lounge singer would kill for). Stuffy, dull, and old beyond his years, Haughty's flirtations with the Final Girl are what ultimately save him from evisceration. Sad, yes -- I for one would much rather see the Meat be the one to survive and repopulate the earth, but I guess that he would be too much for our doe-eyed heroine...

Type 7: The Boring Yet Industrious Final Girl
In this movie, the Final Girl is dull, whiny, and has limp hair. Now, this is not always the case: the FG can be at turns spunky, sexy, and even sassy. But here it seems that the future of Avalon Bay rests on the pale, sloped shoulders of a girl named Pam -- univerally regarded as one of the dowdiest names in existence (played with frumpy, weak-gened abandon by Victoria Dawson). It almost seems to me that the Boring Yet Industrious Final Girl and the Well-Meaning but Stupid Anti-Ho have been switched in this scenario, as the latter could definitely take the former down in mud-wrestling. But regardless, we're treated to scene after agonizing scene of Pam being followed, chased, cornered, stalked, and more -- all wearing one of two hideously unflattering party dresses and having done nothing with her hair. Linda Blair could kick her ass any day.

It's no surprise, then, that the older generation takes it upon itself to dispatch these annoying cretins. I mean honestly -- how are these juvies to be expected to class up to none other than confirmed bachelor Farley Granger, of Rope and Strangers on a Train? Or Lawrence Tierney, who even in a wheelchair and nearly mute is 100 times more interesting than any of the teens? I'd say that they all had it coming. And although a bit slow and VERY gory, The Prowler is a great way to see the "Teens suck!" slasher morality play work itself out in one of its purer and more stomach-turning forms. Extra CampBlood points for a shot of a woman's open-toed sandals -- with nude hose underneath!! -- getting spattered in blood. Such fashion transgressions will not stand...

Rating (out of 5):