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Blu-ray Review:: The Prey (1984)

October 2nd, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

Woodsy slasher flick THE PREY is finally on Blu-ray! I once caught this slippery fish on YouTube and reviewed it way back HERE. The gist of my take was that THE PREY is unquestionably lackadaisical in spots (it’s famous for an over-reliance on nature footage) but kind of charming and adorable anyway and I’d certainly give it another shot when a superior release was available. Well, I have to say, Arrow’s new release is all kinds of superior and THE PREY cleans up real good. Having only seen a hazy, washed-out, zillionth generation version before, my peepers were more than pleased to take in some bright rich colors. Sadly I have no means to screen-grab images from my Blu-ray player but check it out; the picture is so vibrant that I was able to directly take photos off the TV with my ancient phone! Picture quality can’t save all of THE PREY’s quirky issues but it certainly does help.

I know THE PREY isn’t up there with the higher lords of campfire terror like FRIDAY THE 13th and THE BURNING. It’s not even up there with middle level also-rans like THE FINAL TERROR. It’s more stuck in the trying–to-keep-up zone of THE FOREST and DON’T GO IN THE WOODS and that’s fine. In my opinion, all eighties-era wood-set slasher movies have value. I might even say that out of the many underachievers, THE PREY is the most fetching to me. Sure it tries your patience on many occasions but it’s not mean-spirited (if you skip over the implications of the dour denouement), it’s got a healthy respect for mother nature (it features more critters than a TALK TALK music video) and I’m basically going to love any movie with a park ranger who plays banjo and tells jokes to fawns (and if these scenes are improvised padding, I’m all for it).

Arrow Video’s snazzy new package includes three (!) versions of the movie; there’s the zippy (80 minutes that feel like 100) jam we all know and love, a European cut that includes a back story involving gypsies, and finally a go-for-broke integrated combination of the two. Now in most cases, you’d want to gravitate to the version that serves up the most meat but I wouldn’t say so here. Turns out the gypsy backstory version does not consist of scenes edited out for time that were part of the original vision but scenes directed by a gun-for-hire that were added in by a producer who thought the movie needed more boobs. It’s not so much a lost, Holy Grail complete version, as it is a bastardized alteration that the director didn’t approve of. I’m still grateful to have all three (the more the merrier) but I think I’ll be sticking with the O.G. for future watches.

Perhaps the greatest attribute of this release is that it sports a commentary from our old pal Amanda Reyes of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM fame (if you haven’t gotten her book ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? yet, I suggest buying as many copies as financially feasible because they make great Christmas gifts and the holidays are just around the corner!). Let me tell ya, I have experienced the joy of watching a movie with Amanda firsthand on several occasions and it’s always an unmitigated treat. I can’t think of anyone who is as knowledgeable and entertaining at the same time. Here’s she’s joined by fellow THE PREY super-fan Ewan Cant and their rallying adoration for the flick is infectious. You’ll also find some informative interviews with cast members and crew, a return visit to some of the locations and a slew of never-seen-before outtakes.

Since my first viewing, I took THE PREY to be sort of a lovable underdog but this package has kindled new respect in the movie for me. Even though it will forever suffer from amateurish editing and dubbing issues, it has a genial heart that many of its better-made cohorts lack. It’s really too bad this early to the gate (filming started in 1979!) slasher got tangled in distribution woes and didn’t hit the track until interest in what it offered was beginning to wane (1983). I’m guessing it’s more influential than its given credit for as WRONG TURN (2003) features a scene that seems lifted straight from it (although the concept of a deranged mutant cutting a climber’s rope so that they fall to their death was surely a cinematic inevitability). In any case, THE PREY will always be the one and only movie to feature my childhood heroes Shazam! (JACKSON BOSTWICK) and Uncle Fester (JACKIE COOGAN, in his last film) discussing the merits of cucumber sandwiches and for that alone, I must stand and give it some long-deserved applause.

Tags: Amanda By Night · Blu-ray Review · General Horror

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Oct 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Ah yes, the band ‘Talk, Talk’ with their hit ‘Talk, Talk’. Ironically, the lyrics to ‘Talk, Talk’ are ‘Talk, talk, talk, talk’.

    For the animals, though, ‘It’s My Life’ is their best:

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 2, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    I had a rough time choosing between “It’s my life” and “life’s what you make it” to illustrate TALK TALK’s love of nature but the latter won out because it has a centipede sequence that exactly mirrors one in THE PREY.

    TALK TALK were genius IMO and I was so sad when Mark Hollis died recently… I really need to get used to this death thing… I guess it’s going to keep happening.

    Also, I have to reiterate to all… these PREY images are taken off of my TV w/my ancient phone- the Blu-ray looks even more amazing.

  • 3 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Oct 2, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Oh, man, that’s insane. I never saw news that he died. Every day I feel more and more like my grandparents when I’d see them lament the passing of another symbol of their youth. Rick Ocasek, Eddie Money, Mark Hollis, Rip Torn, Tim Conway, Peter Mayhew, Keith Flint, Luke Perry, Peter Tork. Heck, even Grumpy Cat. We’ve lost a lot of cultural icons this year.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 2, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Tim Conway! A bunch of years ago a friend of mine got us both tickets to see Conway and Korman perform CB skits live, we were the youngest people there (I hope) and it was the greatest/funniest thing ever. I’ll never forget it.

    Also Tim Conway always reminds me of my cousin who died too soon because of a freak accident. It’s so important to have people who make you laugh in your life. There are never enough.


  • 5 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Oct 3, 2019 at 12:09 am

    Just to make you smile. My favorite Carol Burnett skit where Tim Conway makes the usually stoic Lyle Waggoner lose it (who wouldn’t with that prop?)

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 3, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Haha! That puppet is the best!

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