A group of friends on a camping trip are terrorized by a horribly disfigured and psychotic survivor of a horrible forest fire that took place decades ago. As the members of the camping party start dying in a variety of ways at the hands of the hulking killer it becomes obvious that he isn’t just looking for victims to butcher, but he is searching for a mate as well.
I saw The Prey when I was a freshman in high school and thought that it was just so-so. It is very similar to films such as Friday the 13th, Just Before Dawn, The Final Terror, and several others, but it isn’t nearly as good as any of them. A lot of people have called it rip off of some of these movies as well, but in its defense that isn’t accurate as it was actually shot in 1978 (before any of these other films existed) but wasn’t released until 1984. It is watchable, but there is nothing really special about it that makes it stand out from the crowd. After watching it again recently I liked it a little bit better (mainly because it made me nostalgic for the 80’s,) but out of all the slasher flicks out there to choose from (especially the ones that center around some psycho going around knocking off campers in the middle of the woods) this is one of the weaker efforts in my opinion.
I don’t necessarily think that it is a bad movie and there are some things that I liked about it, but overall I just thought that it was rather stale and predictable. I’ve already seen this plot played out more times than I can count, and there wasn’t really anything about it that stood out or amazed me. I personally think that the writing is lazy and that there wasn’t a whole lot of effort put into it by anyone who worked on the film in general. The pace is painfully slow at times and after the initial death scene that takes place at the beginning there is a pretty long stretch of time before anyone else dies. For a slasher flick there wasn’t enough slashing going on to make me happy.
On a positive side, the killer looks awesome (too bad we don’t get to see him until close to the end of the movie). He is a huge, intimidating guy (who was played by Carel Struycken, who was eventually cast as Lurch in the first two Addams Family movies) and since he was a burn victim (I love his back story too as I thought it was cool) most of his body is covered with horrible burns that look pretty realistic. To be honest he is so messed up physically that he really doesn’t even look human anymore, and I don’t know about anyone else but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to come across him one night in the middle of the wilderness.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the “shocking” ending. I don’t want to give anything away but let’s just say that it has a bizarre ending and I’m not exactly sure that it works. I know that this was one of the screenwriters ’only attempts to do something original, and while some people may dig it I am sure that there will be just as many people who don’t. I just find it really hard to believe that the “final girl” ends up doing what she does willingly after seeing her friends all die at the hands of the killer (confused, aren’t you? It’ll make sense if you watch it as you will see what I am talking about).
I am kind of on the fence about The Prey. I almost feel obligated to like it because it is a slasher flick that involves someone killing campers and it was released in the 80’s, but at the same time I have to admit that I was bored for most of the time that I was watching it (thanks mainly to the fact that there was way too many scenes of people just sitting around talking, not to mention all the nature shots that kept popping up from time to time that lingered on a little too long). It does have a few good death scenes, and a badass antagonist, but overall I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by it after everything was said and done. Check it out if you are curious (and you want to see Jackie Coogan-who was the original Uncle Fester-in a small role) as it’s a nice way to pass the time on a boring Sunday afternoon, but don’t expect to be blown away by it.
The Prey (1984)