Finger on Fast-Forward

The best part of The Prey involves the discussion of a cucumber sandwich and subsequent eating of said sandwich. That’s by default. The Prey doesn’t hold another conversation as involved – or really, any conversation at all. It’s bit pieces of dialog patched together, at best.

Draw a comparison to Friday the 13th because of camping and campfires, but The Prey was shot in 1979, a year before Jason Vorhees. To some credit, The Prey uses visuals in a unique way, sending city-raised kids into a Californian forest, scenes intercut with nature footage, primarily of predators on the hunt. Clever for the first few minutes. Dreadful for the next 70.

The Prey is a total realization of the genre’s thinnest qualities

In its original form, The Prey runs a few seconds under 80-minutes and feels like two hours; it’s a lot of nothing. Kissing couples and a splash of nudity provide the cliché (if not a cliché at the time) while the rest wanders.

The Prey developed a cult following over the years. Slasher fans know what they like even if no one else can figure out why, like this case study. The Prey is a total realization of the genre’s thinnest qualities, where the characters never matter, the plot is devoid of substance, and what counts are the corpses and how they got that way. Even that though doesn’t offer much. A snapped neck, a sleeping bag suffocation, slit throat, cliff fall, and crushed face cover the lot.

What sticks is the ending. After the burned-as-a-child killer finishes his rampage, he takes the final victim as his own. In the last shot, a baby cry echoes from a cave. That’s dark. Take it, because that’s the lone motivation for this disfigured mongrel. Of course, that final image only happens after a few more minutes of nature imagery, because The Prey has consistency. Sure, the mountains look stunning. But no, they do not a movie make.

Video

In safe hands with Arrow, the 2K restoration of The Prey is dazzling, top-end stuff for a movie that hasn’t seen light in decades. The print’s color saturation is something of a miracle, making those overlong shots of trees tolerable given the level of greenery on display. Brightly colored clothes dump incredible primaries, while flesh tones stick with natural tones.

It’s detailed too, with enough texture to better some 4K masters. Mountains and rivers display sharpness to an extreme, no edge enhancement required. Facial texture breaks free from decades of low res materials. Grain structure holds firm, relaxed by the careful encode. This isn’t a stock of limited grain, carrying enough to near 16mm; it’s 35mm though. Fantastic compression work, Arrow.

Excusing opening shots that pan past a fire, damage holds back. Clean-up handles dirt and/or scratches with few exceptions. Nothing reaches severe. Overhead sun powers brightness, more so than black levels help when sitting in a medium gray. Depth keeps up however, giving The Prey enough weight as to not sour shadows.

Audio

Rough and raw dialog holds every bit of age. Every line is audible, just coarse. Skips and pops intrude too, the audio seemingly in worse damage than the video.

A key element is a heartbeat, that delivered with clean lows, miles better than the companion treble.

Extras

Four cast members sit down for interviews, all clearly having a blast reminiscing (or regretting) their roles. Together these run well over an hour, and make for far better entertainment than the movie itself. Two additional audio-only interviews show up further down the menu. A return to shooting locations runs 14-minutes. A post-screening Q&A runs 17-minutes, and in a cool addition, you can watch the movie with the audience reaction track from that screening. There’s also a commentary with slasher fans Edwin Cant and Amanda Reyes.

But wait – there’s a second disc. Two additional versions of The Prey show up here. One is 90-minutes, including footage inserted by producers. Second is a cut that combines the extended and theatrical cut from disc one. Plus, 40+ minutes of unused footage resides here, in case all of this wasn’t enough.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Prey
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  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

With a cult following, The Prey rises from a VHS grave to earn this incredible Blu-ray release, even if the movie itself is a dud.

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