Where in the Horror are they Now? Friday the 13th/Prowler helmer Joseph Zito

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

joseph zito friday the 13th the final chapter the prowler missing in action where in the horror are they now


When you think great horror directors, there's no shortage of legendary filmmakers to choose from. You have Craven, Romero, Carpenter, Cronenberg and then there is Joseph Zito. What? Now that’s a name you don’t hear enough when talking genre. Strangely, the filmmaker made some of the coolest and craziest horror and action flicks, even though his resume is quite slim when it comes to feature films. But he’s sure done a few flicks worth remembering. In fact, the man gave us one of the very best – and most underrated – slasher gems from the 1980’s. So let’s take a look back at the wonderful and warped world of Mr. Zito.

joseph zito friday the 13th the final chapter the prowler missing in action where in the horror are they now

Joseph has a clear love for horror, and that is exactly where his career began. In 1975, the director took on a familiar subject for Craven fans with ABDUCTION – see THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. You know, the whole kidnapping of a teenage girl. However, Zito’s take also borrowed from the real life story of Patty Hearst who was kidnapped as a student in Berkeley. Much like what was happening in the news at the time, his lead character in trouble in this flick also sympathizes with her attackers and joins their cause. Looking back at this film all these years later, especially with its historical context, it was a risky choice to take on a story about a kidnapped newspaper heiress – especially in a movie with a sort of grindhouse vibe.

Next up for the director was something a bit more sleazy. And when I say sleazy, I say it with a bit of respect. BLOODRAGE was a 1980 feature, one that IMDb offers up this not so subtle plot description, “A sexually frustrated young man kills hookers.” This one is one I may need to see again. Either way, this little slice of slasher fun must have brought the director a little attention because he soon took on arguably two features that resonate for most horror fans. Having a couple of cool genre flicks under his belt seemed to sharpen his talent for slasher movies.

In 1981, Zito teamed with the legendary special effects master Tom Savini, and gave audiences something special with THE PROWLER. This is not a film that received a huge mainstream following. Yet I reckon that nearly every single one of you reading this here knows about this awesomely gory flick. With a creepy killer dressed in WWII Army fatigues, and an abundance of gore and nudity, this was one hell of an awesome slasher entry. And similar to HALLOWEEN and a small handful of other flicks from that era, Zito managed to bring in a couple of respectable actors. The very talented classic Hollywood thespian Lawrence Tierney joined in for the gruesome fun and it was fantastic – the actor also appeared in BLOODRAGE and ABDUCTION.

If THE PROWLER wasn’t awesome enough, how about his next offering. With the impressive work he put into THE PROWLER, Zito was soon enlisted to do something nobody had done before… kill Jason Voorhees. In what is perhaps considered one of the strongest sequels, FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER (it clearly wasn’t) is easily one of my personal favorites when it comes to classic scares. It may have one of the most idiotic leading ladies – don’t go down the stairs when you know a psycho just killed a dude down there – but this flick is awesome as f*ck. And frankly, that moment when Corey Feldman shaves off his head and faces against the hockey masked maniac… now that is one of the most iconic moments in horror period.

missing in action joseph zito friday the 13th the final chapter the prowler where in the horror are they now

After the success of FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPER, Zito started a bit of a career relationship with action staple Chuck Norris. This included the badass MISSING IN ACTION in 1984 and then INVASION U.S.A. in 1985. And then, he took Dolph Lundgren on an adventure in 1988 for RED SCORPION. Following that, he gathered the offspring of classic actors and gave us the cheesy war picture DELTA FORCE ONE: THE LOST PATROL in 2000, following that up a couple years later with the 2003 indie feature POWER PLAY starring Dylan Walsh, Alison Eastwood and Tobin Bell. And that was it for Zito as a director. The man who gave Jason perhaps his greatest sendoff was apparently finished with directing.

joseph zito friday the 13th the final chapter the prowler missing in action crystal lake memories where in the horror are they now

NOW: Over the past few years as the slasher genre has found a lot of love thanks to nostalgia, Zito’s THE PROWLER has become a bit of a cult classic. And of course, FRIDAY THE 13th still carries a massive fanbase. So it’s no surprise many genre fans are well aware of Zito and his contributions. Notably, you can find the filmmaker in the documentaries GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM (2006), His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (2009) and the in-depth Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013). He is always interesting to watch in interviews, and frankly, I never tire of F13 history.

Thankfully, the 71-year-old Zito has been involved in a few other projects as a producer. He worked as a producer on the TV-series Critical Moments from 2007 to 2013 as well as a video game in 2015 called Media Wars. And according to IMDb, Joseph is a frequent lecturer at universities and colleges around the country. And he is seemingly involved as a producer on “a large-scale hospital” TV-show – also according to IMDB. I guess we will have to wait and see. You know what I’d love? It would be pretty amazing to see a sequel to THE PROWLER with Zito producing! Come on! Wouldn’t that be badass! Either way, even with only ten director credits, Joseph Zito made a couple of the the most memorable slasher flicks ever made – and a cool Chuck Norris flick. So cheers to you Mr. Zito!

Source: AITH

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.