Deadly Prey (1987)
By: Devon B. on April 7, 2013 | Comments
Analog Man can not live on DVD and Blu-ray alone. In this ongoing column we blow the dust off our VCR's and travel back to an ancient time where VHS tapes ruled the earth. Our mission? To re-discover those forgotten gems that are yet to receive the digitally enhanced 7.1 channel surround sound treatment...

Deadly Prey VHS Cover Art
Credits
Director: David A. Prior
Screenplay: David A. Prior
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Troy Donahue, Ted Prior, Fritz Matthews
Country: USA
External Links
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In the early 80s David A. Prior decided he would make the world a little bit worse by filming Sledgehammer, a God-awful shot on video movie that makes Violent Shit look like a cinematic triumph. In my review of Sledgehammer I said the movie had about 45 worthwhile seconds, but I was probably being generous there. The only really positive thing that came out of my viewing Sledgehammer was that in the extras I learned about a later Prior film called Deadly Prey. I did a little research on Deadly Prey, and when I saw the cover, with its toned and mulleted hero looking more homoerotic than the cast of Lord of the Cock Ring, I decided it was a must see. Deadly Prey, I mean, not that Cock Ring one. That's still in my "to watch" pile.

When I started Deadly Prey, it took about 20 seconds for it to completely win me over, as star Ted Prior (David's brother), walks on screen then hoists his gun for no apparent reason. The story, such as it is, revolves around some mercenaries who have been abducting people to use for training purposes. The abductees are pitted against the new mercenary recruits, who must hunt down and kill the hapless victims. I guess this training method makes sense because mercenaries are normally hired to stealthlessly track one unarmed guy in a forest. The mercs, both trainee and more established, get more than they bargain for when they kidnap Prior, who turns out to be a super soldier. He quickly turns the tables on the group, but their leader is obsessed with getting his man so won't accept defeat no matter how many of his men he sacrifices.

Deadly Prey is a low-rent combination of The Most Dangerous Game and First Blood with a few hints of Commando thrown in for good measure, but what sets Deadly Prey apart from its bigger budgeted brethren is its wackiness. Prior is released for the hunt wearing nothing but some stylish, for the 80s, jean shorts, but he doesn't worry about covering up for most of the movie. He doesn't think to steal clothes, or even shoes, from any of the mercenaries he dispatches, so he must've had some great sunscreen on because I would've thought running around like that would've left him terribly burnt. It gets stranger, because it seems like Prior is within walking distance of his house the whole time, and even though he clearly doesn't feel the need to get more clothes, I would've thought he'd at least head back for a snack. Instead he eats a worm (for real) and then a rat. This must have something to do with the sort of military training that enables soldiers to eat things that would make a billy goat puke. In Prior's case, the military training has made him such a good soldier that it's almost like he's magic. His booby traps are not as convincing, or hidden as Rambo's, but they still catch the bad guys off guard, with magic being the only plausible reason they worked. I also suspect that Prior's character has some sort of invisibility ability, because sometimes when he's hiding it's in a highly visible position, like two metres off the ground in a sparse tree, none of the mercenaries spot him. A mercenary also misses him from point blank range, so I assume it's because he couldn't see Prior clearly thanks to the invisibility ability.

One thing everyone can see clearly is that Deadly Prey is one zany film. It's got intentional humour, like having a character named Colonel Hogan, but its biggest laughs come from its hokiness, like when Prior slams a mercenary into a tree with about as much power as Stephen Hawking would muster up in a pillow fight. The wacky bits aren't restricted to the action scenes, because there's also crap like an incredibly heavy handed scene with Prior's wife reporting his abduction to, not the police, but her father. Her father, credited simply as "Jaimy's father", is played by Cameron Mitchell, who doesn't look very well. Aside from him the only other remotely noteworthy cast member is Troy Donahue, but most of the rest of cast do okay by the standards of a low budget 80s actioner, though some of the cast are admittedly awful. The most enjoyable performance is from leading man Ted Prior, who is campy fun as the hero, and for once the video box didn't exaggerate things because Prior really was that fit.

Respect must go to David A. Prior for going from unwatchable dreck like Sledgehammer to thoroughly enjoyable trash like Deadly Prey. The movie even has some genuinely good/cool imagery, and there are a few surprises in store when the film deviates from the usual action movie clichés. The first half of the film is almost perfect craziness, but the movie does start to drag a bit here and there at about the halfway mark. I would say the second half isn't as good as the first, but the ending, or at least the final image, boosts the ridiculousness right back up. Then the theme song kicks in and it's a wimpy ballad that's incongruously about never giving up, so by the time the credits finish the movie seems like a comedic masterpiece again. I probably always would've considered it a comedic masterpiece as it has a guy getting beaten with his own severed arm, a gag that never gets old as far as I'm concerned, but this theme song certainly didn't hurt the film's esteem.

The big question now is will lightning strike a second time? The Prior brothers have reunited, along with some other cast members, for a sequel that's scheduled to be released this year. I anxiously await Deadliest Prey and hope that it might even be released doubled with Deadly Prey, since currently the only DVD version of Deadly Prey is a DVD-R, and if that's not tragedy I don't know what is.

Movie Score

Thanks to Australian Video Covers for the vintage VHS artwork.

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