Director Joseph Zito wasn't exactly going for new territory in the slasher genre when he made 1981's The Prowler. The plot mirrors that of My Bloody Valentine, released six months prior, wherein a mysterious figure returns as they seek retribution during the first celebratory dance in decades. In the case of My Bloody Valentine, it was a miner returning after 20 years to wreak havoc during a Valentine's dance, whereas The Prowler has a G.I. slaughtering during the first graduation ball in 35 years, but aside from that, they're basically the same film.
In terms of scoring, however, Richard Einhorn took a different tack than that of Paul Zara. Zara's My Bloody Valentine score features traditional orchestral pieces, complimented by synth work as well as a helping of country and bluegrass to reinforce the rather more rural setting of the film. In Einhorn's case, the music for The Prowler is far more orchestral with a sensuous use of strings throughout. Given the titular slasher's motivation vis a vis romantic rejection, the music is a mixture of heartache and dread.
As director Zito writes in the included essay, the message he conveyed to Einhorn was this: "I need you when I fail. When I've failed to deliver what I was going for, that's when you have to help me, help the audience, and otherwise don't do what's already done in images." Essentially, he wanted the musical score to avoid being redundant in terms of mirroring what's already been conveyed onscreen. The end result is a score which really manages to succeed on its own in bringing to life a tale of jilted romance gone wrong.
The music is a bit reminiscent of the work done by Harry Manfredini on the original Friday the 13th, but then again, there's little in the slasher world which doesn't remind the listener of another score. The strings make everything quite a bit more robust than just electronic work would have, and nicely tie the "modern" 1980 setting to that of 1945.
Waxworks' relentless ability to seek out these heretofore unheard complete scores is nothing short of impressive, and it's really a delight to hear the music on its own. As the label states, the music "was mixed [and] constructed into a cohesive soundtrack listening experience," meaning that, rather than having a set of distinct tracks, there are instead four sets of suites, each of which takes up a full LP side.
Much as was the case for My Bloody Valentine, Waxwork Records brings the score for The Prowler out for the first time ever, in a deluxe gatefold double LP on 180-gram vinyl. It's packaged in a deluxe foldover Japanese style sleeve, but one which is far more robust than the usual thin poly plastic, giving the whole collection a nicely solid heft even before it's been opened.
The vinyl is "Army Green Swirl with Rose Petal Red Splatter", and while it's interesting to look at, it almost would have been better served visually by making the first LP, with "The Prowler Suite" and the "Stalking the Grounds Suite", entirely an army green swirl, and the second LP, with "Dormitory Intruder Suite" and "A Rose to Remember You By Suite" as a disc with rose petal splatter.
THE PROWLER / COMPOSER: RICHARD EINHORN / LABEL: WAXWORK RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW