The Curator of Schlock #261 by Jeff Shuster

The Prowler

Pitchforks are painful!

Yay. It’s February, which means another week of slasher movies. I suppose I’ll continue the trend of slasher movies set on college campuses. And tonight’s movie has a bit of romance going for it, perfect for Valentine’s Day.  How was your Valentine’s Day? Mine was great, just peachy.

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Chrislystal broke up with me! My Canadian girlfriend broke up with me after I had driven all the way to Nova Scotia to be with her. I had even sprung for some Swiss Chalet ,and you know what she tells me as I’m halfway through my Rotisserie Beef Kaiser? “We’re not clicking.” That’s what she says. I don’t even know what that means.

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Tonight’s movie is 1981’s The Prowler from director Joseph Zito. The movie begins with on old newsreel report about the end of the second World War, about all the American soldiers that will return to the women they love. Except, of course, for the returning soldiers who received “Dear John” letters. At a college graduation dance, one of these soldiers decides to dress in his combat attire and stab his ex-girlfriend to death with a pitchfork. Fast-forward 35 years later and the town of Avalon Bay is holding a graduation ball, the first one since that brutal pitchfork murder.

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You know, I’m getting the impression from these movies that young people shouldn’t have any fun. If they do, some guy dressed as a clown or a World War II soldier murders them. What is up with that? You’re supposed to kill Nazis when you don that uniform, not sorority sisters! What is this guy’s major malfunction? The town sheriff leaves for a weekend fishing trip, leaving a deputy named Mark London (Christopher Goutman) in charge of keeping the peace. Right when the festivities start, a copycat killer dressed in World War II fatigues starts murdering the attendees.

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These are some brutal deaths, too. Tom Savini did the special effects in this one, and it looks like the version they’re showing on Amazon is uncut. One guy gets stabbed through the top of his head right through the front of his face. A woman gets stabbed with a pitchfork while taking a shower. Gruesome stuff. What else? Oh, there was a gruesome stabbing/drowning in a pool. The person who finds the dead body in the pool gets stabbed and killed. Yeah, lots of stabbing and killing in this movie. Also, people shooting guns at each other.

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What do want from me? These movies tend to be similar to one another. Like everyone at the time had the bright idea of making a Friday the 13th knockoff, not realizing everyone had the same idea. I think they all came out between 1980 and 1982. But The Prowler has style and good effects. There’s this one scene where the deputy calls up the motel the sheriff is staying at, only to be given the runaround because the slovenly night manager is too lazy to check in on the sheriff and wake him up. It’s like the movie slows to a crawl in this scene, showing the audience that while things may be frantic in Avalon Bay, other parts of the world are nice and serene. Check it out!


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Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.