The Prowler, also known as Rosemary's Killer, is a Slasher Movie from the year 1981 starring Farley Granger and Lawrence Tierney. It was directed by Joseph Zito and the film's gore effects were done by the legendary Tom Savini. Both would later contribute their respective talents to another slasher film, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.
Starting at the year 1945, the film opens with a news reel depicting the homecoming American troops from World War II. One of these returning troops isn't happy, as his girlfriend Rosemary had dumped him during the war (with a "Dear John" letter, no less).
Several months later at Rosemary's hometown Avalon Bay, he kills her and her new boyfriend during the town's annual graduation dance. He is never caught.
Cut to 35 years later, where the town prepares for its graduation dance once again. There hasn't been one since the events of the opening. The killer decides to partake on the event as well, armed with a pitchfork, a bayonet and a Sawed-Off Shotgun.
No, he has no relation to the uncle of Miles Morales.
This film features the examples of:
- All in the Eyes: The lighting at Chatham house does this effect on Mark when he is ascending the stairs.
- Antagonist Title: The killer, "the prowler" of the film.
- Ate His Gun: Fraser noticeably pulls the barrel of his shotgun under his chin before getting his head blown off.
- Bayonet Ya: A sharpened bayonet is a part of The Prowler's repertoire.
- Big Bad: Sheriff George Fraser turns out to be the Prowler.
- Big Damn Heroes: Otto appears to shoot The Prowler with a shotgun just as he is about to attack Pam.
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: Used on Lisas's murder by the pool. The blood is still lingering in the water when Ms. Allison comes to look for her.
- "Dear John" Letter: Rosemary's letter to her soldier boyfriend is shown and narrated to the audience before the scene of her and her boyfriend Roy's deaths.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Prowler's murders are awfully sexual.
- Dramatic Unmask: Done when The Prowler is struggling with the Final Girl and his mask comes off.
- Fake-Out Opening: Begins with cheerfully narrated faux-retro newsreel footage, transitions to a scene set at a dance, and then quickly turns graphically violent when a couple there sneak off to a rotunda to make out.
- Fallen Hero: The Prowler was a World War II veteran (therefore technically and automatically a War Hero like the rest of his fellow brothers-in-arms who fought to put an end to the Axis Powers' tyranny whether being awarded medal commendations like the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, etc. and earning public ceremonial recognition or neither) before degrading into a serial killer after his girlfriend dumped him, while presumably already traumatized by the horrors of war that inflicted him with PTSD during his service on the front lines with the revelation of his girlfriend leaving him only exacerbating his mental trauma and finally causing him to snap.
- Final Girl: After her boyfriend gets knocked out by the Prowler, Pam has to survive and deal with the killer by herself.
- Fridge Logic: In-universe. A couple go down to the basement to have sex and when they hear a noise, the guy tells his girlfriend it was the wind. Seconds later, she asks something along the lines of "the wind...in a basement?"
- Go Mad from the Revelation: The Prowler becomes a serial killer after finding out through a "Dear John" Letter that his girl at him left him for someone else, possibly exacerbating his already established PTSD trauma reeling from the horrors of war he experienced whilst at war with the knowledge that the initial love of his life leaving him was what really causes his psychotic break, his Face–Heel Turn and becoming and dying as a Fallen Hero Driven to Madness by both those aforementioned Freudian Excuses.
- Grave Robbing: The Prowler digs up Rosemary's grave and switches her corpse to Lisa's.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Prowler is done in with his own shotgun, which blows his head in to chunky pieces.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The murders of past and future happen during Graduation festivities.
- If I Can't Have You…: The Prowler's likely motivation behind his double murder of his ex Rosemary and her new boyfriend.
- Lock-and-Load Montage: The Prowler is shown suiting up and preparing his weaponry alongside the cast getting ready for the coming party.
- Killer Cop: The killer is revealed to be Sheriff Fraser
- Menacing Stroll: The Prowler takes it slow when he goes after Pam in the dormitory.
- Not Quite Dead:
- Otto manages to shoot The Prowler. Unfortunately for him, he only pretends to be dead and returns fire.
- An unusual victim example happens as a last scare for the film; Pam discovers the corpses of Carl and Sherry in the shower that they intended to share. Carl's corpse then springs to life momentarily and tries to grab her.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Pam finds a necklace dangling in a fireplace. When she investigates it, Rosemary's corpse drops before her.
- Red Herring: There are plenty of older men to pin your suspicions on.
- The Reveal: Who is The Prowler? Sheriff Fraser, that's who.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: One is among The Prowler's arsenal. It gets used against him in the climax, which kills him.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: The Prowler, a veteran of World War II, though it's unknown if its either the European theatre's War in Europe and Africa (due to the Prowler's military garb being winter gear that troops would've worn in such cold battles like the Battle of the Bulge or Bastogne or sometimes even France), or the Pacific theatre's War in Asia and the Pacific (as the state where was likely the Prowler's home and the main setting of the film itself was California and most soldiers who were drafted from there had fought in the Pacific where the USA West Coast's California was close by, though it would be unlikely soldiers wore winter gears there due to the tropical-set Pacific campaign's predominately humid and hot weathers, but there were some Californians and West Coast-based Americans who also were deployed to the European theatre, making it more likely that while the Prowler is a Californian himself, he most likely saw more action in the European theatre than in the Pacific theatre). There is a possibility that the Prowler during either campaign likely witnessed unspeakable War Is Hell horrors that mentally traumatized him and cracked his psyche like any other soldier in the front lines and learning upon returning that his girlfriend dumped him for someone else while he was overseas experiencing such horrors of war is what most likely finally caused him to Go Mad from the Revelation and kill her and her new love of her life for dropping him like a rock.
- Shower Scene: Sherry is taking a shower when her boyfriend Carl appears and startles her. Things could have escalated into a Shower of Love if not for The Prowler sticking his bayonet through Carl's skull and then impaling Sherry with the pitchfork.
- Slashed Throat: Just when Lisa is about to get to safety from the swimming pool, the Prowler is suddenly there also to graphically cut her throat from behind with his sharpened bayonet.
- Slashers Prefer Blondes: Inverted. All of the victims are brunettes or otherwise dark-haired while the blonde Pam ends up the Final Girl and lives.
- Sociopathic Soldier: The Prowler who kills in military fatigues.
- Something about a Rose: The Prowler leaves roses at the scenes of his crimes.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Just like in most slasher movies, the Prowler survives being stabbed and shot. But unlike most slasher movies, he is clearly injured and probably dying, unmasks himself because he's having trouble breathing, is too weak to overpower Sherry, and ultimately shoots himself in the head instead of dying slowly.
- Title Drop: Miss Allison informs the partygoers that there's a prowler seen around the campus, and everyone should stay inside.
- Trauma Button: The revival of the Graduation Dance makes Rosemary's killer snap and start killing again.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Used when Paul has to relieve himself at the party.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happened to Major Chatham. He was presumably killed by the Prowler, who then hid his body.
- Yandere: The Prowler murdered his ex Rosemary for dumping him for another man.
- Your Head A-Splode: After struggling for his gun with Pam, The Prowler dies from a blast to the head.