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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Prey - The Prey(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2019]

From Arrow Video hereís a classy bells Ďní whistles reissue of The Prey- one of the more contentious films of the golden age of the slasher. The early 1980ís film is a backwoods slasher- which finds a group of teens going out into forest, and eventual getting killed off by a tall, lumbering & burnt killer. The films decidedly slow, and laden down with way too much nature footage, though on the positive side the campy teens are likable enough, when the gore comes itís good, and there are some creepy stalking scenes and a nicely downbeat ending. This new reissue is a double-disc Blu Ray set- bringing together a new commentary track, a good selection of new interviews, outtakes, a longer international cut, and a host of other stuff.

The Prey came out in 1983, though I believe itís filming dates back to 1979/ 1980- so it stands as one of the early backwoods slashers. The film was the fifth film directed by Edwin Brown- whose other output seems to be mainly in the sexploitation/ adult film side of things with titles like 1982ís A Thousand & one Erotic Nights, 1983ís Naughty Girls Need Love Too, and 1994ís Sexual Outlaws. The Prey is filmed, produced & scoped well enough- though itís clear from both the over use of nature footage, and lots of slow-mo shots that the film run much too short.
The film starts with two flashbacks- first, we get a forest fire footage from the 1940s, then we move forward to 1980ís finding a middle-aged husband & wife couple camping- theyíve just finished their evening supper, sheís cleaning the dishes in the river & heís lighting his pipe. She comes back from fire find her decapitated husband, starts screaming then gets killed her selfÖ.so it starts off very promising indeed. Then we move into our main/lead characters- a group of six young & big-haired couples- who are going out into the woods for sex, hiking and rock climb- before they set off into the woods they meet-up with stubbly park warden Mark O'Brien(Jackson Bostwick).
The Prey unfolds at a very slow, considered & at times downright boring pace. This is mainly due to the overuse of stock nature footage- sure a little of this type of thing sets mood, but here itís stretched to truly ridiculous levels- we get footage of bears, lizards, centipedes, snakes, spiders, frogs, birds & pretty much every animal that could live in the forest. Each of these segments last between half a minute, to several minutes- and more often than not they are jarringly placed with little or no reason or sense, and in one key campfire story scene they are very awkward & frustrating. The teens are likeable enough in their late 70ís/ early 80ís campiness, and the young warder & his older Sheriff boss are ok too- so when we do switch back to the story your interest is rekindled. The horror elements are effective & worthy when they do appear- we have the already mentioned decapitation with a blood spurting stump, a throat-ripping, and a few bloody neck breaks. The killer  is not fully shown until the last ten or so minutes of the film- so we get some tense-to-creepy stalking scenes, and when the burnt Ďní big hand killer is revealed it really is quite unsettling. Been a big fan of the slasher genre, Iíve been aware of The Prey for more than a few years now- but due to lack of proper release Iíve never got to see it. So now finally seeing it, I find it a fascinating- yet- frustrating watching experience, with the good stuff often over weighed by the padding- so there is a great top shelve slasher trying to get out here, itís just buried somewhat- so  itís depending on one patience/ tolerance on how much youíll enjoy thisÖthough Iím certainly glad Iíve seen it.
Moving onto this new reissue, and Arrow  Video really have pulled out all the stops giving slasher fans a ultimate edition of this film- first off we have a 2k restoration of US theatrical print of the film, this looks great- with the lush greens & browns of the forest setting coming out well, as does the creepy night shots & often spurting gore-apparently the guys over at Vinegar Syndrome had something to with the print, so you know you going to get a classy job.
Moving onto the extras, and boy is this two-disc set truly packed-to-burstingÖfirst off we get a new audio commentary, this is from Amanda Reyes- respected genre commentator & made for TV film expert, and Arrow Videoís Ewan Cant- who is a uber fan of the film- the tracks both chatty, informative & at times amusing. The pair start off discussing their personal history with the film, and why they like it- before moving onto discuss the cast and director Edwin Brown. Before moving onto comment on key scenes, the use of nature footage, and some of the films possible subtext- all told itís a very enjoyable track.
Next on the first disc, we get four stand-alone on-camera interviews- these run between ten & nearing thirty minutes apiece, and these are with the films actors. We get an around hour-long audio-only interview with the film's director, and another hour & twenty-minute audio interview with the film's producer Summer Brown. We have a thirteen-minute featurette that sees Ewan Cant, with one of the actresses from the film, revisiting locations from the film today. We get an around twenty-minute Q&A from last years Texas Frightmare with the cast, audience reaction track from the films playing at Frightmare.
Next moving onto the second( I believe limited) disc in the set- this takes in 2K restoration of the International Cut-which features around twenty-five minutes of footage that was added in on the mid 1980ís- this focuses in on the gypsies who lived in the woodland, and got set fire to by local people. There's a fan Composite cut- that runs at one hour & forty-two-minutes- this takes in the elements from both the US & international cut. Lastly, we get forty-five minutes of outtakes. The finished version of the release apparently features an ltd booklet taking in a write up about the film from Ewan Cant- but as we were just sent screener discs I canít comment on this. So all in all a very impressive, through & truly ultimate edition of the film from Arrow Video.
Itís great to see Arrow putting out The Prey- and no matter my personal feelings on the film, itís an important part of slasher history. And really Mr. Cant, and everyone who worked on this disc for Arrow Video have done a splendid job on this two-disc set. If you're a fan of the slasher genre, and it's golden age - this really is a must have release!.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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