• Prey



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 27th, 2018.
    Director: Norman J. Warren
    Cast: Barry Stokes, Sally Faulkner, Glory Annen
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    A couple are out in the woods on the make. When the male of the pair hears something stirring outside their car in the brush nearby, he gets out to investigate only to find that the ‘thing’ he heard was actually an alien. It attacks him and vanishes. We think he’s dead, until he gets back up, the wound on his throat now gone… and with his eyes now red and his face taking on a more feral shape, he goes after the girl he was just making out with.

    From here we meet Jessica (Glory Annen) and her lesbian lover, Josephine (Sally Faulkner). They live nearby in the massive old home that Jessica has inherited from her deceased father. While out for a walk, they encounter the man hiding out in one of the estate’s outlying buildings. He’s limping. Josephine thinks they should get him out of there by whatever means necessary but kind-hearted Jessica, seeing that he’s injured, invites him back to their place for some rest. When he’s asked his name, he tells the that it’s Anders Anderson (Barry Stokes), though he seems unsure of this.

    As time goes on, Jessica becomes clearly attracted to Anders while Josephine finds herself unable to control her possessiveness and her jealously. All the while, strange things happen around the house and when some of the livestock starts to turn up dead, the wheels very quickly come off.

    Prey is an interesting mix of really well-done character development and the power struggle that ensues between them and standard horror tropes. It is, for that reason, quite a bit more interesting and unique that you might expect it to be. There aren’t a lot of scenes involving Anders hunting his prey, rather, it’s his mere presence that sets things off between the two women. To be fair, the cracks were starting to show before he became the issue that he becomes, but he’s certainly the catalyst for what happens in the second half of the film. It’s also interesting to see how the two women essentially emasculate Anders during a patently bizarre scene where they dress him in an evening gown and full makeup for a dinner party. He doesn’t seem to notice, let alone mind, as he’s pretty much a nonsexual being, at least regarding his interactions with these two human women.

    To the cast’s credit, throughout all of this each of the principal leads does very good work. There are a few moments when it all hits the fan later on where Sally Faulkner’s hysterics come dangerously close to going over the top, but given the situation she finds herself in, we can at least understand why her character might react this way. Otherwise, she scores full marks. Lovely Canadian born Glory Annen, best known for her turn in softcore classic Felicity, is as cute as she is likeable in this film. She just comes across as a genuinely nice person, which endears the audience to her rather effectively. Barry Stokes does the ‘distant’ thing very well. His character is supposed to be off, different than everyone else, and he’s able to communicate this not only with Anders’ minimal dialogue but with some effective body language as well. He can also be quite intimidating at times as well.

    Production values are decent. The estate location has some interesting architecture both indoors and outside that makes things nice to look at, while the scenes that take place in the woods are also well shot. The score works nicely in the context of the story, enhancing both drama and tension like a good score should. Some of the makeup effects are a bit rudimentary but they’re strange enough that they still manage to create some creepy imagery.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Prey arrives on Blu-ray ‘newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm negative’ and framed properly at 1.66.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks excellent. Color reproduction is very strong and detail is excellent. There’s great depth to the image while skin tones look nice and natural. There are no noticeable issues with any edge enhancement or visible noise reduction and the picture is free of obvious compression artifacts. There’s very little print damage here at all, just the odd small white speck now and again, otherwise the picture is very clean while still retaining a nice, film-like quality.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track on the disc is also fine, save for some minor sibilance in a few spots. Levels are balanced properly and there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion. The score has good range and depth to it while dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow. Optional subtitles are available in English only.

    Extras on the disc begin with a feature length commentary track with director Norman J. Warren and actress Sally Faulkner. This is an interesting track that covers a fair bit of ground. They talk about what it was like on set, confirm that yes, the pond used towards the end of the movie really was as filthy as it looked, what it was like working with Annen and Stokes, the locations that were used for the film, some of the effects work, collaborating with the live animals used for certain scenes in the film, where some of the story ideas came from, overall thoughts on the film and much more.

    Up next are three featurettes, the first of which is Directing The Prey which is a twenty-two-minute interview with Warren in which he covers some of the difficulties encountered in shooting the film while still working on the script, different elements that are worked into the film to make it different, locations, cast and crew and more. In Becoming the Prey we spend fourteen minutes with Sally Faulkner as she talks about her acting career, her thoughts on the character she played in Prey, her experiences on the set and her thoughts on the film. Last but not least, in Producing the Prey producer Terry Marcel speaks for eight-minutes about collaborating with Warren and what it was like getting the film completed on a modest budget. There’s a fair bit of crossover here with what’s covered on the commentary track but enough new ground to make these well worth your time if you’re interested in learning more about more specific aspects of the film’s history.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie containing a standard definition version of the same restored transfer and extras. The two discs fit inside a clear Blu-ray case and also come with some nice reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Prey is a seriously cool slice of late seventies sci-fi, horror and sleaze. Warren keeps things moving at a great pace while the cast all deliver fine work. Vinegar Syndrome has done an excellent job bringing the film to Blu-ray completely uncut with a great transfer and a nice selection of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





























    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      I'm looking forward to this one. Will throw away my full screen dvd-r when this arrives.