Prom Night (1980)
What’s It About: Due to a deadly accidental prank 6 years previous, a killer is out for revenge targeting the same kids involved with the prank. The anniversary of the young girl’s death falls on the same day as the senior prom and the older sister of the victim, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, is going to be crowned prom queen.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Jamie Lee Curtis has 3 movies released in 1980, all horror movies — Prom Night, Terror Train and The Fog. Before this she did the original Halloween and then she did Halloween II in 1981. She really did get typecasted huh?
- It’s going to take a lot of concentration to take Leslie Nielsen seriously. I’ll have to think a lot about baseball err I mean his role in Creepshow.
- What’s a “Senior High School?” A high school for seniors? Like the elderly?
- The killer keeps calling the kids who accidentally killed the little girl with a bad, deep, threatening voice. Every kid basically ignores the caller or thinks its a prank and after they hang up the killer crosses off the name on his list in pencil. It doesn’t make that much sense actually. I’m assuming the killer knows the kids killed the girl so why is he crossing off names? Every kid who answered the phone dismissed the call so the killer didn’t get anything from the call to eliminate the name. Seems his list is a bit unnecessary especially since its only 6 names. Does the killer have a bad memory of who he/she’s calling?
- There’s now a deranged and disfigured psychopath on the loose. So we have an escaped lunatic and an accidental death caused by prank with a 6-year secret. That’s pretty much the two main plot points in any slasher flick.
- And the film is trying to imply that the creepy, awkward janitor could possibly be the killer too. Is it possible to have 2 red herrings?
- Why is there a KISS banner hanging in the school cafeteria?
- All the music at this prom is 70’s disco. This is 1980. Disco was dead for a few years now. They should be knee-deep in New Wave and Post-Punk by now. It’s actually surreal how they’re dancing to this garbage. And seeing Nielsen awkwardly dance to it is gut-wrenching.
- Whenever there’s a prom in a movie it’s always, ALWAYS, held in the school’s gymnasium. I don’t know of any school around where I grew up that didn’t rent a hall for the proms. But even in an affluent neighborhood or town in a movie it’s still at the high school. Why?! Cheaper to keep filming in the school I guess.
- I just realized that I’m an hour in to this 90 minute movie and finally there’s a kill. A whole hour!!
- A minor horror movie pet peeve of mine is when someone is driving trying to flee a killer, the driver never tries to stop the car but drive faster. And in this film, the killer is inside the van, trying to kill the driver and the driver never stops to think that maybe he should stop the van and jump out.
- I always love seeing vehicles race off a cliff and explode before it reaches impact. Always makes me chuckle.
- Wendy’s chase scene is way too long for someone who is a nemesis to Jamie Lee.
- Why does the killer keep saying “Now!” when he kills someone? When the young girl died in the beginning the kids were all yelling “Kill!” Which scared her enough to cause her accidental death. So I’m lost to why he is saying “Now.”
- This disco music really is making this fight with Jamie Lee, her boyfriend and an ax wielding killer look ridiculous.
- If the brother knew who killed his sister, why didn’t be tell anyone? He was fine with just waiting 6 years to enact revenge? All these years he went to school with them and endured his other sister even dating one of them.
Is It Actually Scary: The first kill isn’t an hour into the picture and the tension building up was minimal up to that point so no not scary. The disco soundtrack was scary though.
How Much Gore: The gore is minimal. There is a decapitation at the prom causing panic when the head rolls on the stage although it could’ve just been Panic! At the Disco music. (sorry)
Best Scene: This movie wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. For a slasher flick it did take way too long before any kills happened but I will say I think it has two decent scenes. The first was the girls’ locker room scene where Jamie Lee and her friend hear shattered glass and find a broken mirror. After they investigate the locker room they return to the mirror and notice a huge shard missing from the mirror. Later on, this shard is used to kill Jamie Lee’s friend. Added bonus, Seeing Jamie Lee in a bra. The second scene is the finale where Jamie Lee and her boyfriend fight the killer in the gymnasium. While the disco music makes it a bit silly, its worth noting that the last two survivors are actually fighting the killer and not fleeing. A major difference from your common slasher fare.
Worst Scene: The chase and kill of Wendy is way too long compared to rest of the kill scenes. Plus the first two kills happen in 10 minutes and then Wendy perishes 10 minutes later. So her chase is 10 minutes long. And her kill is done off-screen so we have to sit though her being pursued, her running and hiding and panting in fear only to see her last gasp of air before a quick-cut.
Any Nudity: Jamie Lee in a bra is the best you’ll get.
Overall: It is very tough to sit through a mediocre slasher film where there’s zero kills in the first hour. The fact that Jamie Lee is in this helps a lot. It pales in comparison to both of her John Carpenter collaborations but still not the worst slasher flick ever. It spanned 3 more sequels, all which is just a Prom Night in name only and each one its own story involving a prom (maybe I’ll review the second installment next year!). While it is odd that there are no kills before the prom, I guess this makes sense for realism. Think about it, if there was a murdered student at your school in real life, this would make security tight as well as merriment for a prom tough. And most slasher flicks can’t stop at one, then that prom would be canceled quick. So I guess it was intentional for realism to only have the murders happen on the anniversary of the death of the sister. It still is tough to sit through since the red herrings are super weak and most of the acting is sub-par (I’m looking at you, serious-Leslie Nielsen!). However, any fan of 80s slasher flicks should make this a required viewing in my opinion. I should’ve watched this years ago.
Score: 6 Red Herrings (out of 10)