Virginia Wainwright is proud that she belongs to a clique with the best students at a private school. But before her 18th birthday, a grueling series of murders take place and her friends ... See full summary »
J. Lee Thompson
Melissa Sue Anderson,
For six long years, Hamilton High School seniors Kelly Lynch, Jude Cunningham, Wendy Richards and Nick McBride have been hiding the truth of what happened to ten-year-old Robin Hammond the day her broken body was discovered near an abandoned convent. The foursome kept secret of how they taunted Robin - backed her into a corner until, frightened, she stood on a window ledge... and fell to her death. Though an accident, the then-twelve-year-olds feared they would be held responsible and vowed never to tell. But someone else was there that day... watching, and now, that someone is ready to exact murderous revenge on prom night. Written by
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Take a dash of Brian de Palma's "Carrie," blend in a hint of John Carpenter's "Halloween," sprinkle in a healthy pinch of "Saturday Night Fever" and you may end up with a concoction very much like 1980's "Prom Night," a mildly effective thriller that just narrowly manages to get the job done. In this film, an ax-wielding maniac targets four high school students who had inadvertently caused the death of one of their friends six years before. One of the unlucky quartet, Nick, is the boyfriend of prom queen Kim, played by Jamie Lee Curtis; what a shame, then, that the anniversary of the tragedy coincides with the night of the big school bash.... Anyway, this film really is a mixed bag at best. It rarely goes far enough in terms of excitement and violence, is filled with false shocks and red herrings, and has a slow buildup that is barely paid off in the picture's final third. With the exception of the plight of Wendy, the bitchiest of the four, whose pursuit by the killer throughout the school and in an underground garage IS quite suspenseful (probably because Wendy is the only one who lasts long enough to show any sign of fear!), and a bravura final five minutes that are memorably off the wall, the picture generates little in the way of thrills. (PERSONAL NOTE TO ASPIRING FILMMAKERS: If a character in a horror picture is not afraid, the audience won't be either. Imagine the shower scene in "Psycho," if "Mother" had merely killed Marion Crane while her back was to him. How less effective that scene would have been, without Janet Leigh's classic scream and the fear that was so well conveyed! Sure, the scene would still have been suspenseful, but not nearly as memorable and harrowing. Fear is communicable, and without that identification on the part of the viewer, there are no scares; just buildup and butchery.) What's worse, a side issue regarding Kim becoming aware of Nick's involvement in her sister's death is never resolved, and the talents of both Leslie Nielsen and Antoinette Bower (who will always be "Star Trek"'s Sylvia the witch woman to me!) are squandered in teensy roles. Still, there are compensations. The picture looks great and is well acted by its mainly young cast, and the identity of the killer (virtually every character is suspect) will most likely come as a surprise; I felt sure that I had guessed it for a change, but was wrong, as usual. Director Paul Lynch has given his film some interesting touches also (love that slow dissolve into a blood-red punch bowl!). Thus, "Prom Night" isn't TOO bad a teen/slasher flick; certainly better than some I've seen. If anything, the film demonstrates that disco music is good for something after all: It makes an impressive backdrop for watching a psycho go berserk!
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