Prey (1978)
By: David Michael Brown on September 21, 2010  | 
Salvation | All Regions, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 78 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Norman J Warren
Starring: Barry Stokes, Sally Faulkner, Glory Annen
Screenplay: Max Cuff, Quinn Donoghue
Country: UK
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The 70s were an interesting time for British horror. US films like Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had studios like Hammer and Amicus running scared. The movie going public had lost interest in gothic horrors and anthology films. Hammer tried to peak interest with a splattering of grue and lashings of naked flesh but the writing was on the wall. To the Devil a Daughter and The Monster Club marked the death of an era. Things were not all lost however, as a new breed of horror director began to emerge. Pete Walker came from a background of sexploitation and gritty thrillers to produce such anti authoritarian chillers as The House of Whipchord and Frightmare while Norman J. Warren produced an eclectic array of low budget horrors like Satan's Slaves, Terror and Inseminoid.

Prey is a slow building tale of alien invasion as a dog-faced extraterrestrial lands in a picturesque forest in England, takes the form of a human being and shacks up with a couple of lesbians in a beautiful mansion. So far so good, but when we say slow building we really mean it. As we gradually learn the truth about the alien and his flesh eating tendencies, we have to sit through numerous scenes of ponderous exposition as the trio discuss this and that while the alien looks on lovingly at the lesbian's tasty pets. After the initial landing next to nothing happens for most of the movie - the alien chomps on the wildlife but the lesbian's soap opera theatrics do not hold the interest.

The performances are uniformaly good; Barry Stokes does well in role of the alien and Sally Faulkner and Glory Annen are convincing as the bickering lesbian couple who adopt the alien. The make-up, while a bit silly, is effective and the gore scenes are suitably gut wrenching. There is one scene, when the alien falls into a lake that goes on for what seems like hours. He thrashes about the water in interminable slow motion. Even the director now admits that the scene goes on for too long. When the film does deliver, a vigorous lesbian tryst and the brutal, gory finale - the film perks up but it isn't really enough to save it. Prey is a valiant effort and retains a quirky Britflick ambience but the aforementioned pacing kills it stone dead. Gore hounds will love the inevitable ending, as the alien feeds on its benefactors, which is alarming to say the least and possibly one of the most graphic scenes ever shown in a horror film from Blighty, but for the rest, the lethargic storytelling will not hold the interest.
The luminous 4:3 image is clear if grainy. The film looks better than it deserves to. There is evidence of dirt and print damage but as most of the film takes place during a pleasant British summer, the film is summery and bright to look at. The full screen framing looks a bit cramped compared to the trailer but doesn't hinder the enjoyment.
The audio is adequate at best. It's a cliché but the sound belies the films low budget, there is next to no background action in the surround. It's easy to listen to but nothing much else to report.
Extra Features
Aliens, Lust and Terror! features three of the filmmakers in three separate, informal, interviews. Warren chats happily and is refreshingly candid about his career and making Prey in 10 days. He has never been a director to get on his high-horse and preach about his movies. He has always known exactly what he is making, low budget exploitation films for the masses, and doesn't apologise. Editor Alan Jones and Sally Faulkner also discuss their part in the making of Prey and look back with much laughter. The director also provides an exhaustive running commentary and a stills gallery and the hyperbolic 'X' certificate, letterboxed, trailer round things off.
The Verdict
An interesting effort with a rip-roaring finale that soaks the screen in plasma, the OTT moments just about make the long slog through rest of the film worth it.
Movie Score
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