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This film is a minor
classic of the Stalk 'n' Slash genre and is going to praised
accordingly. However, the positive points I'm going to raise
depend on the reader enjoying the cliches and archetypes of the
style. So, If you hate any of these stalwart slasher features,
please disregard this write up...
Vaseline-on-the-lens shower scenes
Sassy, slutty, pot
smoking girls getting iced
Actors in their
late 20s playing teens
herrings, plot fakery and logic lapses
up so the killer can stick sharp things in them and chop
stuff off better
slightly inbred locals
Prim girls who
Still here? good...
Rosemary's Killer (AKA The Prowler) works because it trots
out all the cliches with energy and skill. Clocking in at a
double-feature friendly 85 minutes, it doesn't outstay its
welcome, instead presenting plenty of gory kills, tense foot
chases and goofy teen flick dialogue. We open in 1945, where
a local college dance is in full swing. Rosemary is
attending the shindig with her new beau, an obnoxious rich
kid whose just begging for some garden fork justice...
...and he's going to get it real soon...
You see, Rosemary has hurt someone's feelings real bad. It
seems she ended a relationship with a G.I. stationed
overseas. She promised to wait, she really did, but she was
young and couldn't hold on any longer. One 'Dear John'-letter later and she was free to see other people.
Except her old flame turned out to be psychotic and, driven
mad with jealousy, he's returned home to get his vengeance.
The two new lovers soon see the error of their ways when he
sticks them both with his fork in a gazebo, painting the
screen red with gore before leaving behind a symbolic red
rose. Naturally, this heinous crime goes unsolved and all
dances are banned forever.
Flash forward 35 years and the sleepy college town is set to
celebrate graduation once more, but some of the locals
aren't too happy. The local shopkeeper is a typical hick who
hates kids, so perhaps he or his subnormal assistant will
start the slaying again.
Or maybe it's the local sheriff, whose left town for a fishing
Or could it be the Major Chatham, town elder and father of Rosemary, the girl so savagely slain all those years ago.
Call Scooby Doo and the gang right now!
The film is very thin on plot but then, what exactly do you
need for a great piece of slasher trash? It perfectly sets
up a gang of pretty kids who get slaughtered with enthusiasm
by special effects wizard Tom Savini. This is one of his
early efforts which, alongside other genre classics like
Maniac and The Burning, established him a major talent.
Gory treats on offer in Rosemary's Killer include a gruesome
and naked garden fork to the abdomen in the obligatory
shower murder, a well realized neck slice in a swimming pool
and a quite brilliant kill in which a square jawed jock gets
a long knife straight through the top of the skull, in a
drawn out sequence of blood, terror and twitchy, eye rolling
The acting is above par for this kind of thing, with none of
the cookie cutter characters* standing out as particularly
bad. The camera work is stylish, amping up the tension for
the pursuits and gazing voyeuristically during the shocking
Director Joseph Zito, who went on to make a
sequel and Chuck Norris kthe ill-fest Missing in Action, does a
fine job, turning out a fine tuned thrill-kill B-movie that
makes the most of a reasonable budget. While it offers
precisely nothing in the way of fresh ideas or originality,
Rosemary's Killer does deliver classic 80s horror chills and
buckets of grue, making it a good bet for fans (such as
myself) who love to sit through three or four of these films
in one sitting.
* Alpha male cop, prim survivor girl, slutty friends of prim
survivor 1 & 2, Inbred, greasy shopkeeper. Mute village
weirdo, Drunken jock, Bespectacled Geek...