The Prowler

The Prowler_1981_filmThe Prowler has all the conceits of an 80s slasher: a prologue, a grudge, a flash-forward, a ludicrous proposition*, a masked killer, unique weaponry, college students, a lack of ambient light.

And usually if a film’s title is said in a film, that counts as a strike against it. In The Prowler (listen to our podcast discussion thereof), all of these attributes are forgiven. After all, while there are lots of films that follow the field guide above, few are lucky enough to have the stunning special effects black magic of a Tom Savini.

The Prowler begins in grainy black and white newsreel footage of victorious GIs returning from Europe and the Pacific Theater. And there’s a voice-over – a sad Dear John letter sending a young soldier from the war zone right into the friend zone.

Cut to a post-war dance in fictional Avalon Bay, somewhere in the Northeastern USA. Glenn Miller’s version of Little Brown Jug is making everyone cut the rug (the big-bang leader himself went MIA in 1944 over the English Channel) save for an amorous duo gracing a romantically lit ocean-side pier and gazebo. Their romance is cut short when a killer armed with a pitchfork kebabs the duo.

The Prowler_MOVIEFlash forward decades and one Major General Chatham, hasn’t allowed the town to have a dance*. (Is there a particular military rank whose purview includes college prom oversight?)

But blond bombshell Pam MacDonald has some sway (after all, she’s dating the sheriff’s deputy, Mark London) and soon the kids are sashaying to a groove. The punch is spiked, weed’s been procured, couples have paired off, and all is right with the world until there’s word that a convenience store robbery in a nearby town has gone awry and has now been ruled a homicide.

The sheriff’s out of town and the rookie deputy’s in charge of everyone’s safety. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, quite a bit. Soon, a killer bedecked in combat fatigues is bayoneting anyone with a student ID, and the dance floor is being cleared.

João Fernandes (Children of the Corn) brings a lot of visual style to The Prowler, and he’s aided by robust Tom Savini effects. This counters the somewhat stilted “I found an open grave out there. It’s been opened,” repartee.

While by no stretch a classic, Joseph Zito’s The Prowler is a solid, capable college slasher flick.

***1/2 (out of 5)

Hot Girls Wanted

Hot_Girls_wanted_movie posterParadoxically, you can almost respect people who are ballsy enough to go out on a limb and do things that most people don’t respect. Almost, but not quite.

Hot Girls Wanted shines its POV soft light on amateur adult film stars, and is a documentary so raw at times, it needs lube. 

Miami, unsurprisingly, the ersatz and cultural black hole that it is, is now home to a nascent amateur scene. The film depicts entrants into a business with a shelf life comparable to actual produce (for most girls, after three months in the business “they’re done”).

It’s not surprising then, when later one of the stars describes herself as a “piece of processed meat.”

Like a supermarket, there’s a seemingly endless variety of products, each pretty much the same. Here, they’re young girls and as Hot Girls Wanted points out in the beginning with a dizzying array of thumbnails, in the supply and demand curve of sexual economics, there’s an endless supply.

And it’s definitely hard to tell these widgets apart.

This is compounded by their names, each interchangeable with one another: Stella May, Brooklyn Daniels, Ava Taylor, Lucy Tyler, Ava Kelly…There’s no Eloisa McGillivray or Babette O’Halloran.

Hot_Girls_WANTEDIt’s difficult to keep them straight, but they’re all Id-driven, uneducated, celeb-obsessed and solipsistic, and it’s hard to tell whether they were like this before going beyond the green door or after.

As Hot Girls Wanted progresses, each girl begins to finally distinguish themselves and we learn about their family lives and significant others whose lives are flipped upside down by their controversial line of work.

At first, they insist their milieu is becoming more accepted by the mainstream, but it really hasn’t: witness the furor surrounding Duke’s Belle Knox. But to their credit, the girls here, despite their lack of formal education, are able to provide more insights into the Ivy League adult film star and the world she inhabits than Knox herself.

Stay with this one and you’ll be rewarded, but it’s not so much a cautionary tale of, well, “a piece of tail”; it’s a human story about life’s choices.

***1/2 (out of 5)