VHS collectors seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately. What many thought was a dead format seems to be making a major resurgence, similar to the way vinyl did. We wouldn’t dream of telling you that the quality of a VHS cassette provides superior picture, sound, or anything. But it is certainly a lot of nostalgic fun to revisit some of the more obscure VHS only titles by way of your VCR.
Be Kind, Rewind is your one-stop destination for all the information you could ever want about VHS exclusive horror films. We will give you the low-down on the VHS only title we are re-visiting; including where to find it, the going rate, a review of the film, and we will even provide an expert recommendation as to whether the title is worth the money. We will be examining more VHS-only titles in the upcoming weeks, so tell your friends and fellow lovers of antiquated technology.
Year of Release:
New World Pictures (filmed in 1978 but didn’t receive distribution until 1984)
Lori Lethin (Bloody Birthday)
Debbie Thureson (this was her only film)
Steve Bond (Gas Pump Girls)
Robert Wald (Summer Camp)
A group of teenagers trek to North Point for a relaxing getaway, filled with marijuana, drugs and premarital sex. But, in turn, they are hunted and killed by a subhuman baddie with an axe to grind.
The pacing in The Prey is a little off-kilter. It sort of stops and starts a few times. One of the strange things about The Prey is that in its short 80 minute run time, there are probably fifteen cutaways to wild animals. All of a sudden, we see a close up shot of a raccoon or a snake. The camera will just pan in on the animal for a good thirty seconds and then the film goes back to whatever was happening before. It seemed like very unnecessary filler that didn’t really add anything to the film.
Though slightly two-dimensional, the performances aren’t bad, considering the film was shot over the course of about seven days. The always-enjoyable Lori Lethin is the most likable as the tomboyish Bobbie. Lethin always brought an undeniable charm to her characters. She was a delight as Joyce in Bloody Birthday and brought depth to the multiple roles she played in Return to Horror High.
A lot of the death scenes are fairly tame, due to budgetary constraints. But, there are a couple of kills that stand out as above average for a low budget production.
It wasn’t a terrible shock to learn that the director, Edwin Brown, had only directed adult films prior to The Prey. While his direction wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, there were definitely some tell tale signs that the film was helmed by a first time director.
There is nudity in The Prey. However, not as much as one might expect from a director known for such classics as Naughty Girls Need Love Too.
The VHS transfer of the film is so dark in some places that several of the scenes are difficult to make out. A lot of the movie takes place at night, so that is a problem. The Prey could definitely benefit from a DVD/Blu-ray transfer that lightened the picture to make some of the indiscernible frames come to light. As of this point, however, there are no plans to reissue the film on a contemporary format.
The Prey is worth seeing, at least once. I can’t really say that there is a lot of replay value, though. It’s a bit of a one trick pony.
Going Rate/Where to Get It:
$49.99 on eBay (original box)
As of this writing, eBay is the only retailer offering the film with the original box. Amazon has copies of the film that have been cut to fit a plastic case, but that really detracts from the main reason we collect VHS tapes – the cover art. I was able to pick up a copy on Amazon with the original case for under $30.00, about six months ago. However, copies are becoming more difficult to find, given that a finite number were produced and VHS-only titles are rapidly getting snatched up by collectors.
Is It Worth the Price?
For the devout collector, it is absolutely worth it. The tagline ("It’s not human and it’s got an axe") is delightfully silly and the cover art is quite clever. As we mentioned in the review, the film itself is not really top notch. So, non-collectors may want to take a pass on this one, unless you are able to find it for a more attractive price point.
Tips from a Former Video Store Clerk:
Don’t forget to have your VCR professionally cleaned, periodically. This will protect your tapes from being eaten by your machine. A dirty player is the most common reason for damage to VHS tapes. Most locally owned electronics and television repair stores still offer VCR cleaning. As an alternative for those without such services readily available, there are DIY options for purchase on eBay or Amazon, but the most effective and reliable method is still having your machine professionally cleaned.