Last night I went to the Cinefamily to check out their screening of two great slasher films from the 80’s that were both directed by exploitation filmmaker Joseph Zito. The event was actually a “prequel” to the slasher retrospective that the Cinefamily will be presenting next month. Every Thursday in October they will be showing slasher triple features that includes SLEEPAWAY CAMP, MY BLOODY VALENTINE (the original UNCUT version), APRIL FOOL’S DAY, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, GRADUATION DAY and many more. Tonight we were watching THE PROWLER, which I consider to be one of the best slasher films from the golden era (1979-1984) and FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER which is regarded by many (including me) to be the best one in the series.
Both films were directed by Joseph Zito, who also made two of my favorite CANNON movies with Chuck Norris, the cartoonish INVASION U.S.A. and MISSING IN ACTION. He was there to introduce both films and did a great Q and A, where he did shed some light on the origin of the insane dance Crispin Glover does in FRIDAY 4, as well as a few other stories.
Screening first was THE PROWLER from 1981, which still holds up really well and I consider it his best.
A recurring theme in the slasher genre is the storyline that involves the spurned male ego on the rampage, getting back at all the ladies who did them wrong and the men that they can never be. THE PROWLER fits this criteria to a tee, as it begins with mock newsreel footage about all the WW II soldiers returning from war and rejoining the gals they left behind. It then cuts to a V.O. of a young woman named Rosemary reading a “Dear John” letter to a jilted G.I., which then takes us to a graduation dance at an east coast college in 1945, where she and her new beau are celebrating. Unfortunately for them, the war is over and soldier boy is back and he’s not taking the break up very well. He makes his “point” with a pitchfork through their entwined bodies and then we flash forward to thirty five years later, where the university is finally forgetting the past and throwing another graduation dance. Bad idea!
I know the plot sounds like any other slasher movie plot and for all intents and purposes, it is. But most slasher movies don’t start with a period flashback from the 40’s, which is quite elaborate and authentic for a low budget movie like this. It also has the very best KILLS in any slasher film I’ve ever seen and that’s thanks to SPFX maestro TOM SAVINI. Each of them is a gory set-piece, including a particularly gruesome one in which a guy gets a bayonet through the top of his skull. It then gets even more grisly when the guy opens his eyes and his pupils have retracted into his head leaving them all white. It’s still freaky as hell to watch! The entire movie is filled with lots of great scares and the ending is an awesome shocker that’s the most original of its kind.
There was a short break and we all went out to the back patio to mingle. Joseph Zito was out there talking to the fans about his movies. He’s a very nice, approachable guy. After the break, we all went in to watch his other slasher masterpiece…
I’ve seen FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER more than any other in the series. For people who’ve never seen a single FRIDAY movie, I always recommend this one. For me, it’s got everything you could ever want in one of these movies, PLUS you get CRISPIN GLOVER, COREY FELDMAN and TOM SAVINI, who is back for the makeup effects! The plot is, as usual, nice and simple. A group of young, very horny friends retreat to a vacation home located on beautiful Crystal Lake on the same day Jason escapes the morgue and goes on another bloody rampage. The characters are all goofy 80’s stereotypes, but the acting is better than most in the series. It also has lots of nudity, Crispin Glover doing a crazy dance, Corey Feldman shaving his head and attacking Jason with a machete and the guy from LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, who still can’t get laid. That’s more than most slasher movies can boast!
I recommend heading out to the Cinefamily next month if you’re a fan of horror. They’ve got a whole lot going on, including many more slasher screenings, a Coffin Joe retrospect and a series of kung fu horror movies that should be a blast!