A group of campers fall prey to a disfigured monster in this 80’s cult classic which has a connection to a certain family.

In the forest area of Northpoint in Keen Wild, a fire broke out in 1948. Flash forward three decades later. Six people are heading for the area for a weekend of camping and fun. Made up of three couples, the group consists of Nancy and Joel, Bobbie and Skip, and Gail and Greg. Upon their arrival, the girls meet park ranger Mark O’Brien, who wants to make sure everyone is safe and to watch out for bears.

However, it is not just the bears the group needs to worry about. A mysterious disfigured man with an axe has appeared on the campgrounds to unleash mayhem. As the campers are picked off one by one, Mark hears the story from his boss about the fire of 1948, which left a Gypsy boy disfigured as the sole survivor of the fire. Could it be that the monster killing off the campers is the Gypsy boy?

Shot in 1979 but not released until 1983, this is quite an interesting film as it came from former adult film director Edwin Scott Brown and his wife Summer, who co-wrote the script and served as producer. The film marks their first (and only) non-adult film and what’s intriguing is that the film has the feel of a horror film, but it also has scenes depicting nature, balancing out the setting as to lengthen the runtime, which is clocked in at 78 minutes. And yet, the company behind the film would shoot without Brown’s knowledge some extra footage that would bring the requisite T & A used in horror films, something that Brown was actually trying to shy away from as his version has very little nudity if any.

The cast of potential campers are mainly comprised of newcomers, including Debbie Thureson as Nancy, the most innocent of the group whose boyfriend Joel is played by Steve Bond, who appeared a few years earlier in an underrated horror film, Massacre at Central High. Lori Lethin, who would later appear in Bloody Birthday and Return to Horror High, makes her film debut as Bobbie with Robert Wald as her prank-loving boyfriend Skip. Rounding out the cast are Gayle Gannes as Gail and Philip Wenckus as Greg. Jackson Bostwick, who played Captain Marvel in the 1970’s Shazam television series, plays ranger Mark, who gets in on some banjo work and learns about the incident from his boss, Lester, from 1948 that opens the film.

The monster itself is played by Dutch-born actor Carel Struycken, who had a brief role prior in the ensemble bomb Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band. Struycken would later play Lurch in the 1990s Addams Family films and speaking of Addams playing Mark’s boss Lester is Jackie Coogan, who played Uncle Fester in the original 1960s series. It would be Coogan’s final role before his passing in 1984.

With make-up by future SFX legend and genre director John Carl Buechler, we don’t get to see the full look of the monster until the final minutes of the film. There is minimal gore in the film, mostly involving throat slashings and one decapitation. The leadups into the kill scenes as well as seeing them from the point of view of the killer works quite well as instead of a Darth Vader breath, we get a rising heartbeat and if that wasn’t enough, the ending is quite a shocker!

The Prey is a by-the-numbers horror film but it does minimize one particular trope (if you see the original version) and the ending is jaw-dropping. Definitely worth checking out at least once.


An Essex production. Director: Edwin Scott Brown. Producer: Summer Brown. Writers: Summer Brown and Edwin Scott Brown. Cinematography: Joao Fernandes (as Teru Hayashi). Editing: Michael Barnard.

Cast: Debbie Thureson, Steve Bond, Lori Lethin, Robert Wald, Gayle Gannes, Philip Wenckus, Jackson Bostwick, Jackie Coogan.