With The Prey, we're dealing with a rather lame, low-tension and unspectacular backwoods slasher from the US, which was produced in the late 70's, but only released in the States by New World Pictures in the mid 80's. The story is kept relatively simple: A group of young people camps in a forest area and they tell each other a legend that happened many years ago at exactly the same place where they are now. This legend says that a boy became the only survivor of an act of revenge, in which his entire gypsy clan was killed by a fire. Completely disfigured by the fire, the boy is now said to live in the woods, marked by hatred and a desire for revenge. The group considers this legend to be an invented horror story, but soon they are proven wrong and the first murders occur.
Even though the movie is a flop, it at least has an interesting story to offer. In the US, The Prey has been tightened up by a few minutes for cinemas and on video, so that the running time of 80 minutes isn't exceeded. The 25-minute story of the gypsy massacre and the resulting background story of the vengeful and murderous gypsy boy was removed. Alternatively, the US version has re-inserted almost 10 minutes, which consist mainly of animal footage. The version with the gypsy massacre was released outside the USA, including in Germany. Meanwhile, the label Arrow Video has released the film for the first time on Blu-ray in Great Britain and the US. On Blu-ray, there are a lot of extras and three versions on it. Besides the US and international version, a composite cut is also included. This version consists of all additional scenes from the US and international versions.
The US theatrical version was compared to the international version. Both versions are included on the British BBFC 18 Blu-ray by Arrow Video.
9 additional scenes in the US version = +9 minutes and 35 seconds.
In the US version, there are more shots of Mary and Frank having dinner around a campfire.
The US version shows a bear running around. There is also a view of a woodpecker and a snake.
US version: A millipede crawls along a branch.
In the US version, you can see the group sitting around the campfire longer. In between, there is a variety of animal footage.
In the US version, you see Skip eating a bite while Joel shows his girlfriend a constellation in the night sky. In between, an earthworm is shown, which is eaten by ants. In the international version, there is instead an alternate shot of someone secretly watching the group around the campfire from a distance.
US version: 20 sec
International version: 3 sec
This is the most significant difference between the two versions. The US version has a sequence of Joel telling the other campers a horror story about the scary monkey paw that gives you three wishes. In the international version, Joel instead tells the old story of a gypsy village that was completely set on fire in revenge, killing several people. Only a small, deformed child survived the fire and was left alone in the wilderness afterwards.
US version: While the campers sit around the campfire and talk, Greg points up to the sky and explains the different constellations to the other campers. Joel later interrupts the astronomy lesson and tells the campers the story about the monkey's paw:
Joel: "Okay guys, are you ready? I won't tell you a curious story, happen about 40 years ago in England. An old soldier visited a friend of his that he hadn't seen in about 20 years. He had been in Far East and Jerusalem and he came back with many many souvenirs. One of his souvenirs happened to be a very old mummified monkey's paw. Now there was something very curious about this monkey's paw. It allowed three people to have three different wishes. The soldier gave him the paw and the old man didn't know what to wish for. His son and his wife suggested he wished for $50,000. So he took the monkey's paw in his hand and then he screamed. I said move, the farm move now they didn't really believe him but somehow a weirdness came one night the woman was pulling on a sleeve was late at night, she woke him up and she said I want my son putting me I want my son, getting my son in the paw so he got the ball and he wished he took the paw in his hand and he said I wish for my son to be alive. Two hours later, there was a knock on the door. He got louder, and louder, and louder The wife ran downstairs and the old man went to the window and he saw this banging door was a son the old woman ran to the door and she opened it. He cut the monkey's paw and he had his last and final wish."
US version: 3 min 40 sec
International version: Here, Joel tells the story of a gypsy camp that existed 30 years ago in the very area where they are now. In a retrospective, we now get a glimpse into the crowded gypsy camp.
In the camp, we see Marco standing around with Micha, Pandora and Sasha. They talk a little bit about an old story that happened here in the camp. Marco says goodbye to the others and drives away with his car. A little later, he drives past a ranch. The ranch owner Jake and his buddy Dave, who are standing outside at the paddock, take a dismissive look at Marco. Dave begins to disparage Marco, saying that gypsies are thieves, rapists and a danger to their families. Jake is not particularly convinced of this and tells Jake that he is exaggerating a bit and that gypsies are basically harmless. Dave replies that gypsies are anything but harmless and asks Jake what he would do if a gypsy gang attacked his wife one day. However, Jake is still not convinced by Dave's hostile words against gypsies.
Dave's accusations proved true as Marco dared to make a secret date with Jake's wife Mary one day. Marco is keen on Mary and wants to finally win her over, but Mary decides to go home again because her husband is expecting her for dinner and if she doesn't show up in time, he will beat her up. Marco shows his charm and after a short discussion he can persuade Mary to stay with him after all. Mary is quite taken with Marco and so it happens that they both kiss passionately and have sex afterwards.
When Mary is back home, Jake is really freaking out because he found out that she's been cheating on him because of the hickey on her neck. He yells at her, drags her back and forth and wants to know who the guy is that she cheated on him with. Afraid of being beaten up by Jake, Mary doesn't tell him about the amicable affair with Marco, but instead tells him a lie in which she pretends to have been raped by a gypsy. Jake calms down and is relieved that his wife hasn't cheated on him, as he had previously suspected. He hugs Mary comfortingly. In the gypsy camp, a woman is seen dancing to music in front of the other residents. Micha and Sasha are also present and flirt a little bit. In the end, they disappear together.
The next scene goes on and you see Jake and Mary sitting at home. Dave is also present and he tells Jake that he warned him about the gypsies but that he did not want to believe him. Jake recounts some of the details of Mary's rape, which enrages Dave even more, and then pulls out a revolver. He vows to take revenge on the gypsies with a few other people. Mary is now plagued by a guilty conscience, as she wasn't actually raped and it was just a made-up story to save her own home. She tries to keep Dave from his revenge plans and thinks that the gypsies will probably move on again soon, as they always do. But Dave won't be convinced and tells her that he and his people will make sure that the gypsies will soon disappear forever.
Back in the camp, we see Micha and Sasha making out. Sasha then tells him that she can dance, too. Micha asks if she can do it as well as the other woman at the campfire. Sasha confirms this and demonstrates her dancing skills in front of him. The camera fades back to Jake and Dave. Dave is still talking about his plans for revenge, but Jake can't really get himself into the mood. It is only when Dave continues to talk to him and he makes it clear that the gypsy raped his wife, that Jake agrees to go along with his plan.
In the camp, you can see Marco lying in the tent with Pandora and having sex. Also, Sasha and Micha have made themselves comfortable in the back seat of the car and have sex. Meanwhile Jake, Dave and some other people sneak through the camp with canisters and spill gasoline everywhere. In the end, they light the gasoline and leave quickly. As the camp burns, Joel narrates off camera that the fire spread very quickly throughout the camp, killing all the campers and Jake and his friends. Only one person survived the inferno, albeit with severe burns, and that was a boy named "Leo" who, after the massacre of his clan, was hell-bent on revenge.
International version: 25 min 34 sec
In the international version, the complete scene in which Mark sits in his room and plays the banjo is missing.
You see Mark briefly sitting in his rocking chair with his banjo in his hand, thinking.
In the morning, the camera pans down from the mountain to Joel and Nancy, who have been camping at the foot of a cliff and are now sleeping there. In the next scene, we see Mark sitting with a young deer. He tells the deer the story of the wide-mouthed frog.