Ah, prom night, a high school remembrance where we dress up, dance, and…..go to die! Okay, so the last one isn’t so normal on a prom night. It wasn’t normal for mine. I remember going to my prom with a co-worker (No worries, we were both seventeen and worked at McDonald’s.), and had an amicable date break-up in the midst of the prom because, well, I was bored of him. But, I can say that we both came home safely. However, some kids in 1980’s “Prom Night” weren’t so lucky.
Directed by Paul Lynch, “Prom Night” starred Leslie Nielson (receiving top billing despite not being in the film for more than fifteen minutes) and Jamie Lee Curtis (America’s scream queen of the 1970s). The film is about a bunch of kids instigating an accidental death of a young girl back in 1974. Six years later, an unknown slasher targets them on their prom night, which coincides with the anniversary of the young girl’s death. Unfortunately, Kim (Curtis) is the young girl’s older sister and prom queen.
Popular with audiences and not so with the critics, “Prom Night” is a horror film classic no matter how you slice it. Don’t excuse the pun, folks. It’s a mildly passable film. There were some aspects of it that still doesn’t sit well with me. First, the beginning illustrating the death of Robin, the young girl, is just hard to watch, especially now that I am a parent. It bothered me then because, as a kid, I saw the situation has avoidable and foolish. As a parent, though, I see through a mother lion’s glare and I desire to strangle each of the kids myself.
Secondly, there’s too much time setting up red herrings. Yeah, I get that you have to set one up, as with all horror films, to keep the audience on their toes and guessing. But, more than twenty minutes was spent searching for a boogeyman tied to one inconsequential and unrelated scene. Third, as a viewer, you only get about, yet again, twenty minutes of actual slashing. Did the film rolls only have twenty minutes worth for each film chapter? What the hell? Also, the slashing isn’t scary or really suspenseful. You know he or she’s coming as they are picked off. It leaves the viewer to say, “Just get on with it, so we could end this movie.” Well, at least, I felt that way. Finally, Kim goes to the prom with the boy who indirectly killed her sister. Sister, what were you thinking? I’m thinking she was wholly ignorant of the whole ordeal, or suffered some long-standing repression. There’s just no way someone in their right mind would date or hang around with THE CROWD THAT KILLED YOUR SISTER. Yes, people, she still rolls with the same group responsible for KILLING HER SISTER. That was the nail in the coffin with the film. It was a major script flaw to say the least.
I have to go with the critics on this one, which I don’t care to do mostly. Ms. Curtis, I’m not mad at you. You had to pay some bills and get your film experience going. You made it up with “Terror Train” and “The Fog” later on. I guess you were coasting on that “Halloween” reputation or something. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll go with that reason.
This stinker gets 4 of 10 . Yes, I gave it one less than “Sleepaway Camp”. At least with the latter, you get creative kills and the killer (who shall remain nameless) give the bullies what they deserve by the end, not hang out with them as though nothing happen.
Footnote: The remake never happened. Just back away.
Fun Fact About “Prom Night”: Eve Plumb (Jan Brady, “The Brady Bunch”) auditioned for the role of Kim. She was looked over. Trust me. She should thank her sister, Marcia, for failing to get this role.