Prom Night (1980)
Directed By: Paul Lynch
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Casey Stevens, Eddie Benton, Michael Tough
Synopsis: A killer stalks a group of high school seniors preparing for the Prom, which happens to fall on the anniversary of the death of a young girl.
Thoughts: I know I am in the minority, but I think Prom Night is pretty overrated. The best thing going for Prom Night is Jamie Lee Curtis, who cemented her horror icon role in 1980 by starring in this as well as The Fog, Terror Train. For the most part, Prom Night is boring. Nothing happens for the bulk of the movie.
The story begins with a flashback of a young girl falling out of an abandoned factory window to her death while playing with some other kids. This is the only the death in the first 45 minutes. The movie then jumps to the same kids preparing for their Prom six years later.
The actual Prom night starts with a disco dance off that really has to be seen to be believed. It is straight out of Saturday Night Fever. The fashion of this era is unforgivable, but I imagine they will be saying the same thing about us in 30 years as well.
After the dance off, the movie starts to pick up with some pretty innovative kills. Paul Lynch, the director, was surely influenced by the Italians when designing the stalk and kill part of Prom Night. The killer wears black gloves and the first person point of view is used extensively. Had Lynch sprinkled a few more deaths leading up to the dance, I think it would have helped considerably. For what it’s worth, the final 20 minutes of Prom Night are pretty good.
Like I mentioned, Jamie Lee Curtis is great here, as is Leslie Nielsen. For the most part, this is a very good cast, better than you see in most slashers. The victims follow the usual slasher format as well. The ones that stray from the path by having sex or doing drugs die, while the pure “final girl” survives to confront the killer at the end.
There are a lot worse slashers out there, but there are also a lot better. Prom Night falls somewhere in the middle of the pack for me. Worth checking out, but not one of the greats.