Retro Review: The Prowler (1981)

Retro Review

I love slasher movies! Did I ever tell you all that? I think I did. Of course I did.


I have been on a “slasher” kick as of late and I have reviewed a few slashers already this year for the Syndicate. These range from the pretty good (The Final Girls) to the not that great (Stitches). Today we’re checking out one of my favorite slasher films. In my opinion, one of the best. Recently I had the pleasure of buying this film on Blu Ray. I’ve owned the DVD for years, but never made the hi-def upgrade. I am truly glad I did, because this film is even more visually horrific in 1080p. This flick may not be all that well known to most, it came out in November of 1981 amidst an onslaught of other slashers. So let’s look at Joseph Zito’s cult hack and slash The Prowler.


Also known as Rosemary’s Killer, The Prowler starts out in 1945. At the tail end of the World War II, many of our boys in uniform were coming home to their families and their best gals. Unfortunately, as it happened often, many of these best gals grew weary of waiting on their men. The film begins with an unknown soldier reading a ‘Dear John’ letter. His gal Rosemary, could not wait for him any longer and has already found someone else. Later, we see Rosemary with her new beau at the annual college graduation dance. While outside necking with her man, a shadowy figure in military uniform graphically murders both Rosemary and the ill-fated young man. We fast forward 30 some years. The college hasn’t had a graduation dance since that dreadful night. Things will change this year though, as the co-eds prep for the dance. Will Rosemary’s killer return? You can bet your sweet ass on that!

Director Joseph Zito, did a wonderful job creating this tense and darkly lit world. Filmed a little more than a year after Friday the 13th (1980), you feel similarities. Zito would go on to direct one of my favorite installments of the Friday franchise, The Final Chapter (1984). He also directed Alice Cooper’s video, He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) for Friday VI: Jason Lives, which made me giggle. I feel, there were other similarities to the original Friday as well.

Those subtle nods to me came via the kill scenes. So it came as no surprise, when I found out none other than Tom Savini ran the special effects team on this flick. Savini is responsible for some of the best special effects work of the genre, leaving his bloody mark on Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980). He did not disappoint with The Prowler either. He orchestrated some cleaver and gory deaths that are sprinkled all throughout this little gem. There is also a 10-minute special feature documenting some of his clever effect tricks.

gif courtesy of Beware the Horror blog
gif courtesy of Beware the Horror blog


This film, along with a few others really broke open the slasher genre to the casual viewer. This film is almost 35 years old and has most definitely stood the test of time. Wonderful entry. But don’t take my word for it. Check this one out anyway you can!


IMDB: 6.2/10

ZombiSurvivor: 8.4/10


Can you escape The Prowler??



Thanks for reading Syndicate!!!!



About Jared Letourneau 189 Articles
Hey there boils and ghouls! My love of horror films came on a dark and stormy night.... ....Truthfully, it probably happened in 1980-something during a sunny day when I was 5 or 6. That movie was JAWS. I had never been so terrified to go swimming and I live in a land-locked state! I have been a Horror Hound ever since. Having seen hundreds of films, some good and some downright dreadful, my love for horror cinema has grown stronger than ever! A couple of my favorite directors are Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter. Contributing here at T.H.S and being able to work with these other folks will be a treat I look forward to. I will share secrets after a few drinks and I also enjoy long romantic walks in dimly-lit cemeteries. My fave top 5 films are: 1)Dawn Of The Dead (Original) 2)The Thing (Carpenter's Remake) 3)Zombie 4)The Beyond 5)Friday the 13th pt IV: The Final Chapter Stay Scared! -ZombiSurvivor