It plays like an 80s slasher staple, but “The Prey” actually predates “Friday the 13th” in production, thus feeling ahead of its time.
This week’s recommendation is a film that you might watch and think, “Well this is just a ripoff of Friday the 13th.”
Considering the film was released in 1983, you wouldn’t be wrong to think that. However, this film was actually made in 1979, a year before the first Friday film, so it’s merely a coincidence that this slasher’s villain looks exactly like Jason.
Similarities aside, 1983’s The Prey still has a lot going for it that makes it worth a watch, which is why it’s this week’s Tubi recommendation!
The movie opens with a flashback to 1948 and a California wildfire that destroyed a rural village and killed a family of gypsies that lived in a cave in the forest. Flash forward to 1980 and an old couple is murdered at their campsite late at night.
Flash forward again, this time only a few weeks, and we meet a group of young co-eds getting ready to have premarital sex and do drugs in the woods.
The film throws a lot at the viewer in the opening sequences, preparing for a wild ride of slasher mayhem in the woods.
But instead of capitalizing on the promising opening, we are treated with nature footage for most of the first half or more of the film. That’s not to say that there aren’t excellent kills in the film, it’s just that most of the film is shots of trees, birds, and rabbits hopping around the forest.
The runtime is only 80 minutes, which makes it confusing why there is so much nature footage. Perhaps the lack of victims is the reason for so much filler.
Whatever the reason, it leads to a dragging pace of the film.
When the killer does appear, he looks exactly like Jason Voorhees.
Abnormally tall, ill-fitting, and tattered flannel shirt, horribly mangled face and wielding a hatchet.
The resemblance is uncanny, especially considering the film was made years before Jason Voorhees made his on-screen debut. Typically, when there is a mega-successful film like Friday the 13th, filmmakers rush to cash in and make a bunch of similar films, but with The Prey, it looks like the studio received a bit of a break as all they had to do was look at their collection of unreleased films.
The movie was filmed in 1979 and was not released until 1983, making it hard to call this a Friday rip-off despite the similarities.
While not the best film, it is a very fun film.
The score is composed by Don Peake who also scored The Hills Have Eyes. That is enough to elevate this tension in the film, especially the wild and crazy third act where the monstrous killer is finally revealed.
If you can tolerate the unnecessary nature shots then check this super fun film out now streaming for free on Tubi.