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Prowler, The (Blu-ray)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Prowler, The

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    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: 7/27/2010
    Director: Joseph Zito
    Cast: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney, Farley Granger
    Year: 1981
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    When Joseph Zito's The Prowler (also known under the bizarre alternate title of Rosemary's Killer) begins in 1945, a soldier just returned from the Second World War is dumped by the girl he was pining away from while serving his country overseas. Later that night, at a dance, he finds her with another man and brutally murders them both outside the dormitory where she was in residence. The crime is never solved.

    Thirty five years later, the town is about to hold the first dance since those horrible events decades ago. Local old weirdo, Major Chatham (Lawrence Tierney) is against the idea but the cute collection of nubile coeds doesn't listen to him anyway and set about preparing for the big event. Coincidentally, the town's sheriff (Farley Granger) is about to go away fishing for the weekend, leaving young rookie cop and local hunk Mark (Christopher Goutman) in charge of things in his absence. Mark's girlfriend, Pam (Vicky Dawson), gets jealous of him when he talks to other girls, but soon finds that he may be her last line of defense when, once the dance starts, bodies start to pile up.

    Ruthlessly directed by Joseph Zito, he of Friday The 13th Part IV and Red Scorpion fame, The Prowler is a lean and mean and remarkably efficient slasher even if it isn't the most original that the genre has to offer. The film is unusually reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine (made the same year) in terms of storyline and structure but stands on its own thanks to some memorable kill scenes highlighted by some of Tom Savini's best and gooiest effects work. Gory even by the standards of the genre, the murder set pieces in the picture still hold up well today, even in this day and age of pristine digital effects work and show just how good Savini was at this type of work.

    Performance wise, it's nice to see Granger and Tierney show up here but neither one is really given all that much to do and most of the story revolves around the younger cast members, not one of whom actually really stands out much at all. The acting is certainly sufficient enough to keep the story moving, but outside of that the performances are fairly flat. Thankfully, Zito and Savini keep the tension thick throughout and the movie remains a pretty decent and frequently atmospheric film because of that. If that doesn't do it for you, there's enough nudity and bloodshed to more than make up for the rest of the picture's shortcoming. With The Prowler, entertainment value was put first here, and that's what matters more than lasting impressions or artistic intent.

    Blue Underground presents the film completely uncut, just as they did on standard definition DVD.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    This 1080p AVC encoded 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, taken from the original negative, is an immediate and frequently immense improvement over other DVD release in pretty much every possible way. Flesh tones look good, color reproduction is considerably more vibrant and lifelike, and there's a very big increase is noticeable detail and texture throughout the movie - you'll really notice this in the backgrounds and in the clothes on the actors. The image is clean and clear without looking over processed meaning that while there's a bit of welcome film grain, there isn't much in the way of actual print damage to note, save for some minor specks here and there. Shadow detail is very strong and the encoding is great in that there isn't anything in the way of compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement to note. Blue Underground continues to impress with their Blu-ray re-releases, and The Prowler is another excellent transfer from them. It is a fair bit lighter than the DVD release, but with the light comes detail that was previously lost in murky shadows.

    Take your pick of an English language DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track, a standard definition Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix or the film's original Dolby Digital Mono mix (sadly, not a lossless track but at least it's here). All three sound fine, with the mono track the choice for purists allowing those who don't mind remixing so much to enjoy the more open sounding 7.1 track. The score is spread out nicely with some strong punch in the lower end while the bulk of the dialogue and action comes from the front of the soundstage. Most of the surround activity occurs during the dance scenes, so you'll be treated to some pretty impressive big band music in the opening scene and some remarkably bad eighties soft rock in the 'modern day' bits.

    All of the extras on this disc have been carried over from the standard definition release that came out a few years ago, starting with the commentary track courtesy of Joseph Zito and Tom Savini. For those who haven't listened to it, it's worth a spin as it does a good job of explaining some of the film's more notorious set pieces as well as detailing its production history along with the standard commentary topics such as casting, location shooting, and editing.

    Additionally, Blue Underground has carried over the ten minute archival piece, Tom Savini's Behind The Scene Gore Footage which is a VHS sourced document of the work that Savini did on the film, as well as the film's theatrical trailer. The still gallery that was on the standard definition release has not been carried over to this Blu-ray disc for some reason.

    The Final Word:

    The difference in picture quality between this release and the previous standard definition release is quite staggering, making this HD offering of this quintessential eighties slasher a pretty impressive release from Blue Underground.
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