4.30.2008

Prom Night (1980)

Director - Paul Lynch

Starring -
Leslie Nielsen - Mr. Raymond Hammond
Jamie Lee Curtis - Kim Hammond
Casey Stevens - Nick McBride
Anne-Marie Martin - Wendy Richards (as Eddie Benton)
Antoinette Bower - Mrs. 'Vi' Hammond
Michael Tough - Alex Hammond

Year - 1980

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4


Prom night - a magical time for any teenager. The limos, the music, the corsages, the tuxedoes and dresses, the spiked punch, the anticipation of getting laid after the night's over - prom holds a special place in many a teenager's heart. It's a night you'll never forget...unless some killer was out for blood by making threatening phone calls and hunting your ass down at prom itself. Then maybe, you'd like to forget prom night. Fortunately, I never had that problem. Can't say the same for the characters in this film though.

PLOT

In 1974, young Robin Hammond is accidentally murdered after four children (Wendy, Nick, Kelly, and Jude) corner and scare her during a game of KILLER (tag mixed with hide-and-seek) and she ends up falling to her death out of a two-story window. The kids, scared that they'll be in trouble if someone finds out, decide to keep it to themselves. They run away from the scene, but someone watches from a distance, witnessing the entire act.

We move 6 years later, where the kids [having moved on with their lives like nothing happened - those bastards] are getting ready for their prom. Apparently, the kids are in the clear as a pedophile was convicted of Robin's murder years ago. But like I wrote before, someone knows the truth and begins calling the four players, threatening them. They pay no mind to it and continue on with their prom activities. Robin's older sister Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) is dating Nick to Wendy's jealousy. Wendy, the bitch of the school [and a hot bitch at that] begins dating the school bully Lou [who looks like he was leftback a few times] to get revenge on Kim and Nick. Kelly is questioning losing her virginity to her boyfriend, while Jude loves nerdy obese guys [that wasn't sarcasm]. With the main story, we also have another side-story with a police detective who's hunting down the man thought to be responsible for Robin's murder years ago. Could he be the caller? Or is it a red herring? You decide.

Anyway on the night of prom, the caller's intentions are made clear when he arrives and starts picking people off one by one slasher style. Who lives? Who dies? Do you even care? Why is the killer so obvious within 30 minutes of the film? How come I find bitches hot as hell? Did that ski mask have glitter on it? And what's up with that disco sequence!?

REVIEW

I don't know why I like this film. I really don't. But I do for some perverse reason. Released during the beginning of the slasher era, Prom Night is a cheesy 80s horror film that hasn't really stood the test of time. Maybe that's why I find it so appealling. With its disco score [and dance sequence!], clumsy ass killer [motherfucker was tripping all over himself - amateur], and the oldest looking teenagers on film, Prom Night is one of those horror films that needs to be seen to be appreciated.

I thought the direction of the film was pretty decent. I liked the flashback sequences and moments of subjective views [robbed from Black Christmas & Halloween]. The beginning sequence when Robin dies is shot in a way that creates tension and suspense. When the kids gather around Robin before her death, you get a sense of clustrophobia as the shots of the kids take up more of the screen each time you see them. I thought the best shots were during the last half hour of the film [where the film actually picks up and feels like a slasher film] with the low-key lighting and chase sequences that were done flawlessly - so flawlessly that you're caught up in the killer's murder spree without missing a beat. Very suspenseful and satisfying scenes. Job well done.

The acting is also pretty decent for a slasher film. Jamie Lee Curtis is great here as usual, bringing her charisma and attitude onto the screen. She's beautiful, she's tough, she can scream, and she's a great disco dancer lol. Prom Night was Curtis' third or fourth film, but it's like she's been acting for years. She a pro and I admire her for it. Leslie Nielsen is okay as patriarch of the Hammond family and school principal of the high school. He doesn't really get much to do and it's odd watching him not do slapstick comedy. He's barely a presence actually. Casey Stevens as Nick is decent, though his 'fro seems to have more charisma than he does. He had a moment where he showed signs of torture over dating the sister of the girl he had a part in killing years earlier. But that was pretty much it. He was the token boyfriend role, but he played it well. The rest of the cast was okay as well [meaning no one annoyed me to the point of wishing they would die], but my favorite actress was definitely Anne-Marie Martin as Wendy. What a bitch she was, and boy did I love her for it. She and Curtis had some scenes where they'd fight over Nick's affections, making me wish they would have a catfight that would result in their clothes being ripped off. I wanted to slap her and have sex with this woman at the same time. Yes, I may be sick and perverted, but dammit if I'm not honest about it! Plus, she had the best chase scene with the killer in the entire film. Almost 10 minutes long, it just got better and better as it went on. And no one was worthy of the stupid bitch award - a rarity in a horror film!

There were some things that bugged me though. The pedophile/detective interludes weren't really needed. I know they were meant to add another suspect to the killer's identity, but they kinda slowed down the movie and didn't really interest me at all. If these scenes were edited out, I wouldn't miss them and they wouldn't really affect the film. And that janitor dude...he was also thrown in to be a suspect but I found him pretty much useless. They already had a pervert in the film - that 28-year-old high school student Lou [who makes fat John Travolta look like he's on Jenny Craig - he took the 'sweat' part of sweathog a bit too seriously]. And then...the pacing of the film. After that awesome beginning, it really slowed down until the end. I like character development as much as everyone else, but even after an hour, I still didn't really get a sense of who they were. I mean, some things didn't make sense. Why were Kelly and Jude friends with Kim? They must have been truly evil for befriending the sister of the girl they killed. At least Nick felt bad about it and Wendy didn't give a shit about the whole thing. But the other two girls had no hearts or souls. Talk about sociopaths. And the killer...so obvious with this small cast. Was not surprised by the reveal [even when I was younger], but at least it works for me. Just wish I was thrown off from the truth a bit more.

And I can't continue without mentioning that dance sequence again. It's just such a cheesy moment of horror history that I can't help but smile at the whole 3-minute scene. It's so bad, it's great.

THE FINAL HOWL

Prom Night is a treat for those who want a good laugh. It's not a very good mystery and it's not at all scary. Don't expect blood or nudity either - there's barely any of both. But something about the film is charming enough to be watched every once in a while. Everyone deserves to laugh at the disco scene. Worth the price of a rental alone.

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