Gone are the days when one referred to a weirdo lurking in the shadows outside a simple graduation dance a 'prowler.' Such an antiquated term, no? I don't think I've ever uttered the word 'prowler' to refer to such an intruder. I usually say crackhead. For example, way back in the day, the BFF and I used to live together in this crappy apartment downtown. My car was forever getting broken into, there was always some bum in the alley shooting up, and it was just one step away from a pornographic bookshop, and what I swear was a Yakuza fronted Chinese restaurant. Anyway, I was liquored up one night (we drank malt liquor back then) and was in the bathroom and I looked out the window and I swear I saw a crackhead freaking out by my car, oh, excuse me, a prowler. I started yelling and called the cops screaming there's a crackhead by my car! Well, look who's the crackhead, it was a plant blowing in the wind. True story. It has nothing to do with the movie I watched last night, concerning an actual prowler. But I thought I would relate it you all, if not to solely entertain you with my drunken shenanigans.
So yeah, The Prowler (1981). It begins in 1945, with a vintage commercial for war bonds. Then Rosemary pens a letter to her boyfriend, breaking up with him because he's been gone fighting in the war too long. She said she'd promise she'd wait for him - but you know how these things go. She then takes off for the college graduation dance with new rich, roadster driving Roy. The dance proves to be a big fat yawn (even though it does sort of seem to be authentically 1945 - the costumes don't look all too bad and the band's got that swingin' sound), and Roy and Rosemary take off to find a secluded spot to make out and swill booze from a flask.
They find a lit gazebo and start doin' their PG rated thing, when someone kills the lights. No bother, they continue making out whilst a pitchfork-toting, black glove and helmet wearing, combat-booted madman comes out of the shadows and skewers the happy couple straight through. It really looked kinda cool (Savini, I think, was in charge of the bloody stuff), and I even found myself wincing a little bit. We're off to a good start, Prowler.
Next thing ya know, it's 1980 and go-getter Pam has organized a new graduation dance. Seems Rosemary's dad, the wheelchair bound Major Chatham (played by the always entertaining lump, Lawrence Tierney) has prohibited a dance from taking place for the last 35 years on behalf of his grief following Rosemary's death. He hasn't died or anything, I think he's too sick or something, to prevent Pam and her friends from throwing the new party. But he's not to sick to position his wheelchair directly across from the girl's dorm, to peep on them while they take showers and rub lotion on their nubile flesh. Slutty Lisa even takes it upon herself to show him the goods every now and again. Oh, she'll get what's coming to her, she will.
So the dance must go on - and the usual stuff happens, the band plays, students twirl about on the dance floor, the punch gets spiked and everyone gets wasted. Lisa takes off for a dip in her underwear in the pool and gets her comeuppance for her flashin' ways via the hands of the prowler. Our prowling friend also manages to knife a fornicating couple in the shower, in a really actually suspenseful scene, and the only time we get to see boobs.
I must say this about the movie - the score is dead on. It's really perfect. It does much to enhance the atmosphere and there are really a lot of great suspenseful moments. You still know what the fuck is gonna down because we've seen it all a thousand times. I gotta hand it to the score here. And I'm normally not one that pays attention to such things. Maybe I'll pay a little bit of attention.
Still, the movie is slow and has some really strange non-sequitur moments. Out of nowhere, a grocery store owner alerts the police that there are kids in the cemetery. Deputy Mark goes to check it out and takes Pam with him. Why would you take your maybe girlfriend to the scene of a possible crime? They find Rosemary's open grave with Lisa's body inside. Another out of nowhere moment is when another horny couple goes down to a basement to make out and an old teacher dude peeps on them from the stairs. Also, Mark and Pam go to Major Chatham's house and just walk inside, calling his name, looking for him, and investigating with flashlights, even though all the lights are on. They find pictures of Rosemary and put two and two together, but we already knew all that. As did they. It coulda been the wine on my part. It always coulda been the wine.
But I love the word 'prowler.' And the prowler looks great - he's pretty scary looking, what with his whole WWII getup and pitchfork and long knife which he uses to penetrate unsuspecting victims. He's got issues, that's for sure. Sex issues. And while I won't reveal his identity, 'cause I know ya'll are all gonna rush out to see this one, it's not who you suspect. Or maybe you will because you're smarter and less alcoholic than me.
I kinda get a My Bloody Valentine vibe off of this one, maybe it's the killer's ensemble, maybe it's the plot. Probably both. I think they came out the same year. Anyslasher, if I had seen this one as a kid, I probably would've been scared and bored or a little of both. But I still would have noticed that when the prowler gets out of the pool after killing Lisa that he's not wet.
Let's get the word 'prowler' back into circulation. Let's start using 'cat burglar' too.