Saturday, 10 September 2011

Aliens vs Lesbians

Norman J. Warren was never the world’s greatest film director, but he was certainly a trier. Graduating from sex dramas like ‘Her Private Hell’ and ‘Loving Feeling’ in the sixties, Warren became a prime mover in the ‘New Wave’ of British horror films that began to appear in the wake of Hammer, Amicus and Tigon. Distinguished from the Old wave by its young and trendy protagonists, contemporary settings, freewheeling approach and lashings of Kensington Gore and the old in out, the New Wave was a short lived phenomenon, but it produced some interesting films while it lasted.

‘Prey’ was released in 1978 and, for what it’s worth, is Warren’s masterpiece. Sometimes compared to Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’ (!), the plot concerns an unhappy lesbian couple whose uneasy rural isolation is interrupted by the arrival of a mysterious young man whose presence prompts a whirl of heavy drinking, fox hunting, cross dressing, emotional recrimination and sexual intrigue. Where the film departs from Pasolini, however, is that the young man is actually a dog faced alien scout, sent to earth by his hungry dog-faced masters to find a renewable source of protein...

Warren’s ‘masterpiece’ is not a great film, by any means, but it’s very interesting and, in comparison to some of his other work, surprisingly restrained and coherent, with well drawn characters. Unfortunately it suffers from obvious economies of production and some amateurish performances but then this is hardly surprising given that Warren had ten days and a £50,000 budget to complete his magnum opus, and couldn’t afford more than three takes on anything.

Occasionally gory, ‘Prey’ is extremely watchable, and serves as a great gateway drug to the rest of Warren’s highly addictive oeuvre.


  1. My best friend's dad wrote the screenplay for this. Unfortunately I never got to talk to him about it properly before he died. He got totally screwed over by Warren and Terry Marcel and so he refused to discuss the topic. For the limited budget and shooting time (which I think involved union strikes at Shepperton) I always thought it was a pretty decent film.

  2. Good grief, what a deranged video cover.

    I realise pretty much everyone of my generation has memories of being traumatised by lurid artwork at the local video shop, but christ, imagine seeing THAT lurking on the shelves at an impressionable age...

    Anyway, I very much enjoyed Warren's "Satan's Slave" a few months back, and have been meaning to track down the rest of his delightful output, so thanks for the informative run down.