Thanks to the internet there have been numerous low-to-no budget films that have taken on serious cult status. Case in point, Troll 2. Troll 2 is the worst thing ever made but people love it for precisely that reason. It’s an artifact from a bygone era. Granted, that era wasn’t that long ago, but still. People have a serious cast of the 80’s nostalgia currently.
A film that was released to little or no fan-fair but has since gone on to become a cult sensation is Deadly Prey.
Deadly Prey is one part ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ one part ‘Rambo’ and one part an overly sexualized hair metal music video. The actual narrative of Deadly Prey is pretty simple, Ex-marine Mike Danton (Ted Prior) is kidnapped and taken to a mercenary training camp. He is then hunted by the mercenaries in a perverse war game. Inevitable the tables are turned and Danton begins to hunt his hunters. The concept is a pretty standard one. Stories like this have been told for decades. What sets Deadly Prey apart from all the other narratives is that it’s so unapologetically (or possibly unknowingly) 80’s. Danton spends the entire film running around in booty shorts with a mullet that would make Brock Sampson blush.
The film feels like the best and worst of Contra. You remember Contra, right? The side scrolling video game? No? You’re too young? Here: watch this.
Contra was great. It was simple, straight forward, and had tons of action. Which, coincidentally, is exactly how i’d describe Deadly Prey. The narrative is extremely whittled down. You have just enough meat on the bones to be a somewhat satisfying viewing experience but not enough so that you have … oh, I don’t know… any fat? That metaphor went nowhere. Quick.
Deadly Prey is delightfully idiotic. Thankfully the film steers away from Bondian quips and veers more into the silent but deadly area. There’s a lot of scenes where Danton kills someone and then just stares at their dead body, unflinchingly. If the protagnist wasn’t so lusciously adorned with golden locks of mullet, it might even be sinisert.
Ultimately, Deadly Prey is a lean, mean VHS released fighting machine. It’s so of its time that it’s quite enjoyable. From the fashion to the mullets to the awesome 80’s soundtrack Deadly Prey would not be as good if it was make even a few years later.
Even the box art is awesome. Look at this thing, it screams 1982 in all the best ways.
Deadly Prey was created by a two brothers, David A. Prior wrote and directed the film while Ted Prior served as the eye candy/protagonist.
I’ve seen a lot of these purportedly ‘cult’ films and most of them don’t have a script that is as well put together as Deadly Prey. It’s not Shakespeare but there are many action beats that are very well told.
There are two aspects of Deadly Prey that are particularly interesting to me. One, during the third act of the film Mike Danton’s wife is kidnapped and raped. Her character serves no purpose over the course of the film other than to deliver exposition and be abused. It would appear to an outsider that this is indicative of most creator’s mindsets during the 80’s. Specifically in action films, this is an almost inescapable trope. What’s even more intriguing is how the narrative just seems to know that it’s a trope and is ok with it. There’s a scene where Ms Danton is reunited with her father and she exclaims ‘Daddy, I was raped’. The whole picture is a cartoon. It’s a male power fantasy, I get it. But this moment was so cartoony and over the top I was pulled out of the film. This was so alien and so bizarre.
The second element of the film that fascinated me was how Ted Prior was essentially naked through the whole movie. I understand that from a narrative sense this makes him seem weak and gets the audience on his side almost instantly, but there were countless opportunities for him to take the clothes off of the enemies that he had slain. Part of this, I think, is the cultural iconography that permitted the 80’s. From wrestling to hair metal to body builders there were so many aspects of our culture that placed importance on ‘bigger is better’ and ‘Get yoked, bro’ type attitudes. In 2013, these ideas of self and of body image are almost completely gone. Or at least they’re nonexistent in my day to day life. Therefore, when viewing the film I inherently super imposed my cultural identity onto it. This made this element of the narrative really strange.
That may be unfair. Maybe David A. Prior knew that his brother was attractive and was attempting to sell more tickets. Maybe. But due to the fact that the creators are brothers and one of them is essentially naked, I spent half the movie attempting to reason out a logical explanation for why this was happening. I’m not sure what the subtext is of having your brother run around naked for two hours, but there’s definitely some type of subtext.
Deadly Prey is a carnival ride through 1980’s culture splashed with fake blood and adorned with awesome mullets. Anyone who loves 80’s cheese, naked dudes slaughtering people, or firing a machine gun from your hip should totally check it out.
Just watch the first 30 seconds, if you’re not hooked then this movie isn’t for you.
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