Director: Paul Lynch
Writer: William Gray
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Casey Stevens, Eddie Benton Michael Tough, Antoinette Bower
Prom Night is a cult classic slasher film from 1980. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis (in one of three horror films of the same year, with The Fog and Terror Train) as Kim Hammond, whose sister, Robin, dies in an accident at an abandoned convent. Robin tries to join in with a game of hide-and-seek, which turns nasty as the rest of the children start to tease her, chanting ‘kill!’ over and over at her, while backing her up against a window. She falls backwards, dying and the rest of the children run away promising to never speak about it again. Six years later the group are getting ready to go to prom, and it becomes clear that someone knows their secret and intends to get revenge.
The opening sequence, where the group of children mock and tease Robin and eventually cause her to fall to her death, is the best part of the film. The children are completely unhinged and it’s really unsettling. It’s darker than most of the rest of the film and is the closest it becomes too actually being scary. It also leaves you wondering who you should be rooting for throughout the rest, the bullies who made a mistake of the person who wants to kill them for revenge. It’s a good angle for the story.
Not including the death in the opening scene, which is an accident anyway, it takes over an hour for the first kill to take place. If you miss the opening, then you could mistake it for a high school drama, that just has a dark tone. There’s a little bit of suspense being built, but it’s not a lot, with more focus on dates, pranks, and prom itself. There’s a potential killer on the loose, but it takes a while for the threat to truly become real.
Once it does though, the pace really picks up. The kills are quick, and the ending is brilliant. There’s a twisted darkness to the finale that’s powerful and memorable. Surprisingly, there’s not that much gore and the violence is pretty tame. It’s more implied, which doesn’t really work because there’s not a lot of tension to it. When Wendy (Eddie Benton) is being chased by the killer around the school, it does start to become suspenseful, but it’s all ruined by the stupid decisions she makes. Prom is literally happening in the same building, and yet she finds every place to hide and run to, except the party. It goes on way too long and just becomes annoying.
Prom Night is considered a slasher classic, and it is worth watching, if only to see Jamie Lee Curtis in another horror film. It’s not horrific, but it’s not brilliant either. The opening scene is brilliant and creepy, the finale is great, it’s just everything in between is weaker.
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