Monday, October 8, 2012

Prey for a Scare: "The Prey" (1984)

Sure, most of the slasher films of the 1980's were not worth the celluloid they were filmed on, but this video nightmare may well be the dullest produced.

Six horny pot smoking students decide to go camping. Of course, and you know this already, they begin getting killed one by one by a mysterious stranger. The climax has a hunky forest ranger trying to get to the teens in time before the last cute girl becomes buzzard bait.

John Carl Buechler, my least favorite B-movie guy, did the lousy makeup effects here. The cast features Carel Struycken, of "The Witches of Eastwick" and the Addams Family movies. Sadly, he does not pop up until the very end of the film, and is covered in burn makeup, rendering him unrecognizable. Steve Bond (anyone remember him?) is here in an early role as a victim.

Brown's direction, and the script he cowrote, both smell like the presents brown bears leave in the woods. He pads the film with so much stock wilderness footage, I thought I accidentally rented a special episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Much of the cast sits around the campfire and eats, then walk, and sit and eat again. The forest ranger is involved in the strangest scene ever put in a slasher film: he tells a joke about a wide mouthed frog to a baby deer. Jackie Coogan, who must have forgot he once worked with the legends of silent cinema, has two scenes, and is involved in the second strangest scene ever put in a slasher film: he and the hunky forest ranger have a conversation about cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches on oatmeal bread...yeah.

There is not one minute of suspense here. The killer, a forest fire survivor looking for a mate, watches the students from behind trees. We know it is the killer because the film makers have dubbed in a heart beat sound effect that helpfully serves to wake the viewer up every few minutes.

Skip this pile of pine sap and rent "Halloween," instead. (*) out of five stars.