It’s March 1945 and the sleepy little coastal town of Avalon Bay is calm, peaceful and serene (the film was actually filmed at Cape May in New Jersey).
A young woman called Rosemary Chatham (Joy Glaccum) breaks up with her boyfriend who is overseas fighting in WWII, by way of a “Dear John” letter.
Three months later, after graduating, Rosemary sneaks off to the gazebo with her new boyfriend, Roy (Timothy Wahrer) – the richest kid in town – for a little post-graduating celebration. While the two are locked in kisses and embraces, a mysterious prowler dressed in an army combat uniform sneaks up on them and jams a pitchfork through the couple, leaving behind a rose.
Fast forward to modern-day 1981. A whole new generation of students are about to graduate and college senior Pam MacDonald (Vicky Dawson) is making last-minute arrangements for that night’s graduation ball, the first to be held in 35 years (all graduation celebrations had been forbidden by the town since the unsolved 1945 murders).
Helping Pam are her friends Lisa (Cindy Weintraub), Sherry (Lisa Dunsheath) and Sherry’s love interest, Carl (David Sederholm).
Sheriff Fraser (Farley Granger) heads out of town on a fishing trip and leaves his inexperienced Deputy, Mark London (Christopher Goutman, pictured at left) – who also happens to be Pam’s boyfriend – in charge of things.
While preparing for the graduation ball, Carl is attacked and killed with a bayonet. The killer then impales Sherry with a pitchfork in the shower.
Meanwhile, Lisa goes to a nearby pool to cool off and encounters the killer, who slits her throat. Miss Allison (Donna Davis) goes to find Lisa but is stabbed and killed also.
Deputy Mark and Pam are convinced the attacker is the same prowler from 1945 and go to investigate the home of wheelchair-bound Major Chatham, the father of Rosemary Chatham, the victim from 35 years earlier.
Mark is attacked and as Pam is pinned to the ground by the Prowler, she manages to unmask him, revealing none other than Sheriff Fraser . . .
The Prowler was not a commercial success when released in 1981, grossing less than $1 million and receiving mixed reviews from critics. It has since gained a cult following and is often cited as one of the greatest slasher films of all time.
Released in some markets as Rosemary’s Killer and The Pitchfork of Death.
Sheriff George Fraser
Francis Rosemary Chatham