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One of the Halloween follow-ups that would give Jamie Lee Curtis the
title of "scream queen".
Children accidentally cause the death of a little girl, now years later they are in high school and getting ready for the prom. However, it seems someone else is planning on getting some murderous revenge on prom night.
Prom Night is a formula slasher film, with plenty of the slasher trappings, but there are some elements that raise this film above some of the others of it kind. The director gives this movie a truly dark and eerie atmosphere, with the help of Paul Zaza's spooky music score. The plot remains engaging throughout and the creep-factor is kept high. One difference from the slasher "norms" is the fact that we ultimately have sympathy and even sorrow for the film's killer.
While Prom Night is hardly a flawless movie, in fact there are a few scenes where the lighting is way too low and the disco prom dates the film, it does hold it's own. The cast gives good performances, especially Curtis, Eddie Benton, and the late Casey Stevens. There's also a few good rock numbers like "Prom Night" and the mellow "Fade to Black".
Worth a look for slasher fans.
*** out of ****
I first saw Prom Night back when I was 10 years old, but didn't
appreciate it as a film until re-watching it at 19. Watching it a
second time was like discovering a priceless gem and I must say, as a
screenwriter, I still look to this movie as motivation and inspiration.
Unlike most Hollywood horror/slasher movies, it did what most of the
latter cannot, which is provide a combination of good lucks and good
acting, therefor ensuring we care about the characters.
Scream most definitely took a page from this movie as inspiration for its mystery theme. Though the budget was low and this movie was made in 1980 I feel that it still has enough of a story to keep us entertained and also enough of a punch to make us jump a bit. But what really makes Prom Night a success is its actors. Jamie Leigh was wonderful as always, but one character I felt that stole the show was the character of Wendy. As vile and wicked as they made her, the actress portraying her gave her depth. I felt as a viewer that she was more than just the typical bitch character. With killer lines, a beautiful face, and a chase scene that has been the foundation of future horror movie chase scenes, this girl makes the movie worth watching.
If you happen to see this movie on or notice it in a video store I would suggest giving it a look. I would love to see a remake, ONLY if they kept the plot the same, but intensified the horror, much like what was done in TTCM remake. And, of course, to have Edie Benton and Jamie Leigh make an cameo or guest appearance somewhere!
'Prom Night' is a decent little slasher-mystery starring Jamie Lee
Curtis in her third scream queen role. The movie also stars Leslie
Nielsen as Jamie Lee's father and Hamilton High School principal.
Everyone else in it are just bit players, but we must consider that
this film stars one of the wickedest you-know-whats in slasher movie
history. Her name is Wendy, and she is played by Anne-Marie Martin. Who
this actress is, or was, I have no idea, but I know I hated her
character with a passion. One of the biggest bonuses for horror fans in
this movie will be the big chase scene with her and the killer quite
near the end which was deliberately filmed super dark. You can hardly
see what's going on and for me it is the best scene in the whole movie.
Big points for Wendy's chase scene. It works since she plays the role
well, and we've waited so long for this scene and it comes pretty much
near the end, but it delivers.
Anyway, 'Prom Night' opens with a tragedy in which young Robin Hammond, who is Jamie Lee's character's little sister, accidentally falls to her death from a two-story window after being cornered by four brats(Wendy, Nick, Kelly, and Jude)who were trying to scare her. Freaked out that they may be in serious trouble, they all make a pact to take it to the grave, initiated by Wendy, the leader of the brats. Ultimately the blame gets pegged on some serial pedophile and no one ever suspects the four kids. But someone else knows and was there and saw the whole thing. We continue twelve years later. It's the day of the prom and all four of the kids receive raspy phone calls, asking them to "come out to play". It concerns most of them, but eventually their minds stray back to the prom. Some of them have dates, some don't. Jamie Lee ends up going with Nick who just dumped Wendy, so Wendy hooks up with Lou, who sort of serves as John Travolta's Billy Nolan from 'Carrie', and the two of them plan to play a prank on Jamie Lee and Nick since they were voted Prom King and Queen. Pause real quick. Remember, Nick is one of the kids who was involved with the death of Jamie Lee's little sister. Could you really keep a secret that big from someone you are "going steady" with? Also, the two other girls involved, Kelly and Jude, appear to be good friends with Jamie Lee's character. I don't think there is much logic in that, but hey, it's a horror movie. I have to overlook it.
In the end, prom dreams are sliced and diced as the vengeful killer begins knocking each of them off, eighties style. The movie is definitely pretty corny and cheaply made, but that's all part of it's charm. The suspense is there, the score is really creepy, and Jamie Lee does her thing. However, the best part is the mystery. Who is the killer? I'm sure we all know twenty-five years later, but it was fun finding out. Everyone is a suspect in 'Prom Night', as mentioned by Randy from the first 'Scream', and it will keep you guessing right up to the climax. Well, actually, when it gets to that point there are only a couple people left that it can be...but it was still a bit of a surprise.
Honestly, I think 'Prom Night' could use a remake. My VCR copy has such awful quality that it's really quite hard to see what's going on on the screen, and I hear that the DVD isn't any better, so I think we could all benefit from a remastered version, or even a remake at this point.
6/10 is my vote. A decent little slice and dice mystery from days long gone. How I miss them...
Six years ago four kids make a pack to keep a secret, which involved
the mysterious death of child Robin Hammond. They thought that were the
only ones who knew what had happened, but some else witnessed it to.
Now that person strings them along, to eventually plan their revenge
during Prom night.
A real thank-you to the commercial success of "Halloween (1977)" and "Friday the 13th (1980), which saw the influx of slasher films and "Prom Night" was one of the first to step up. Too bad that we have here is an unspectacular so-so, if slick looking slasher effort that got caught labouring along with very little happening and providing us with corny school melodramatics. When it came to the crunch, most of the Prom Night sequences was about getting the groove on and listening to funky dory disco soundtrack. Oh it just makes you want to bogey; well it didn't stop Jamie Lee Curtis from strutting her stuff. However when it came to the good stuff, I thought the novel deaths were soundly executed, and there's a certain unpleasantness about them. When the black hooded killer (who's quite fast on their feet and would make for a good shaker too) is tormenting and stalking the victims (from be it to the phone calls or hanging about in the shadowy corridors) there's an ominous air to proceedings, which director Paul Lynch pulls off rather well. It's just too bad that most of the time is used setting this all up with ineffective red herrings and below par, drawn out script. Too many loose ends creep in, even though the premise is quite slight and you can find yourself laughing at its unintentional goofiness and picking up on it predictability.
Robert New's stunningly vivid camera movements are atmospherically airy and Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer's sorrowfully twisted musical score gets it cues right. The performances from the cast are acceptable with a likable Jamie Lee Curtis (earning her scream queen tag at the time) proves herself as an upcoming talent. Weak character, but well judged performance. Leslie Nielsen looks awkwardly distracted, and seems to duck off in a phone-in performance and George Touliatos gives the film some solidarity. Anne-Marie Martin is a delight as the scheming sexpot Wendy, David Mucci is perfect as the boorish brute Lou and Casey Stevens is modest as Curtis' prom date Nick.
This post-Halloween slasher is familiar and slowly plotted, but its competent technical handling helps.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Prom Night" emerged at the beginning of a decade, which also marked a
decade for the rise and fall of slasher films as we know them. Along
with "Terror Train" and "The Fog", "Prom Night" is one of Jamie Lee
Curtis's most well-known returns to the genre after "Halloween", though
it still remains fairly obscure to many horror fans and general
audiences. The plot centers on Kim Hammond (Curtis), daughter of her
high school's principal (Leslie Nielsen). She's popular, well-liked,
and seems to have it all. Unfortunately, Kim and her family are haunted
by the mysterious death of her younger sister, Robin, who died after
falling from the top floor of an abandoned building ten years prior;
the police blamed a schizophrenic child predator on the crime, but
little do they know, there were four children who were there and whom
were responsible for the incident. Those four children are now high
school seniors, classmates and friends of Kim; it's prom night, which
is incidentally the ten year anniversary of Robin's death. Kim will be
crowned prom queen. Some won't live to see it.
If the "Prom Night"'s plot set-up sounds familiar, that's because it is. Though the film was fresh twenty-some years ago, its originality has been obstructed by the plethora of slasher films that followed in its wake, which may leave some viewers bored and running the numbers; but if you can look past this, "Prom Night" is an extremely fun film. It has a little bit of everything going for it: an elusive killer, odd phone calls, probable motives, sassy high school girls, disco dancing, a ski-mask, and, most importantly, an axe. Team up the carefree high school environment with five teenagers' dark secret, and accompany that with a hellbent murderer on prom night, and you've got yourself a straightforward, suspenseful piece of slasher cinema.
Granted, the film is dated, and the disco dances and funky hairdos of the day may take be distracting to some extent, but the nostalgia of that era is in every frame. Paul Zaza's score is appropriately ominous and ignites a feeling of being under watch by... someone, and at all times. Director Paul Lynch also does a fine job here, showing us just enough, but not too much. Nice establishing shots of the high school's hallways at night set the stage for the action that ensues as night falls and the prom begins, and several impressive instances of cinematography abound (the slow-motion throat slash murder which only shows us a close- up of the victim's facial expression, followed by a fade-in to the red punch bowl being one example). There are several surprisingly artsy shots in the film, and the camera-work is, for the most part, clever. The film has a rather bright, hazy look to it as well, which, whether intended or not, gives the movie another sort of texture.
Performance-wise, we've got a surprisingly decent cast of 20-somethings playing 18-year-olds. Nonetheless, most all involved give commendable performances, Jamie Lee Curtis included. Leslie Nielsen's role is minor, but he's great, and Eddie Benton does a good job as the jealous rich girl of the school (and might I say, she has one of the best chase scenes I've ever seen in a horror film). Though the film takes roughly an hour before all the mayhem ensues, the build-up is worth the wait the final 15 minutes of the film are incredibly fun (almost as fun as the hokey disco dance scene with Jamie Lee Curtis and Casey Stevens, ala "Saturday Night Fever"). The killer himself is eerie and has an interesting choice of weapons (a shard of broken mirror), even though his whispering "now!" upon each murder might sound funny. The revelation at the end of the film may or may not be expected, depending on the viewers' familiarity with these types of films. Either way, it's pretty poignant for a slasher movie.
Overall, "Prom Night" is a wonderful example of slasher prototypes. It was early enough to not be considered a total rip-off, and it's got a lot of interesting things going for it, no matter how by-the-numbers it seems today. It's suspenseful, sometimes spooky, and genuinely fun and lively. Factor in some wonderful murder scenes, a budding scream queen, an eerie score, and a full-fledged disco blood-bash, and you have yourself one of the most memorable slasher films of the 1980s. 9/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Arriving as it did during the early moments of the slasher film
explosion of the 80's, Prom Night was undoubtedly much more impressive
then than it is today. Stripped of historical significance, modern
viewers will probably be disappointed to find this dated offering to be
a relatively bloodless affair with a meager body count and limited
thrills. Certainly, as a horror film, Prom Night doesn't have the tools
to deliver any solid scares. But as a piece of time capsule kitsch,
this movie is a very fun watch, even if the unintentional laughs
outweigh the splatter elements.
The set-up that ultimately launches the film's flimsy revenge plot is silly and awkwardly-staged, with a young girl basically walking out of a window to her death because a quartet of pint-sized kids her own age chant "kill" over and over again. This isn't a particularly terrifying scenario, so things get off to a clumsy start here.
It doesn't help matters that the next hour of the film is almost completely devoid of anything suspenseful, scary, or even interesting, save for a series of phone calls to the film's eventual victims made by a killer who has obviously watched too many Dario Argento films. The rest of the runtime for the first two acts is padded with long-winded character development, needless subplots, and a few attempts at red herring planting that ultimately fall flat.
There is also a lot of screen time devoted to extended Disco dancing sequences, which, predictably, have aged far worse than the rest of the film. Compounding the goofiness, when Jamie Lee Curtis and her date are horrified to see that their nemeses have arrived at the prom despite being expelled, Jamie Lee proclaims, "let's show them what we can do!", at which point she and her partner take to the dance floor and lay down some revenge boogie. Take that, jerks!
The film shows us too much of the killer early on, so even though this is supposed to be a whodunnit, the list of likely suspects is quite short by the time any of the murders start happening. Even worse, the masked, black-clad maniac is the smallest-statured movie psycho of all time, and any menace derived from our mysterious prom-crasher is promptly done away with once we see them and Jamie Lee on the screen at the same time, at which point we can't help but notice that our scream queen star is both taller and more physically intimidating than the killer.
When the slasher movie festivities finally get underway, the resulting murders are downright quaint in their subdued delivery, and only a couple of sequences have any real impact. The payoff is relatively meager considering the extended exposition, and while the killer's surprise reveal at the end makes narrative sense, it is a bit disconcerting to see that the skulking murderer we've been following throughout the film is actually the most benign character in the entire cast.
A horror classic, this ain't. But the glaring markers of the era give the film nostalgic interest, and it's definitely fun to see Leslie Nielsen playing it straight, even if he abruptly disappears from the film without explanation before the climax. Jamie Lee is also a welcome presence, and although she seems to be phoning her scenes in most of the time, we have to concede that she gives the admittedly weak material about what it deserves.
The ancillary elements of the film (including the very cool theatrical poster and its killer tag-line) are actually more interesting than the finished product, and only the most forgiving fans of the genre's boom during this period will gleam much enjoyment here.
It's hard to recommend a film that has such limited appeal, but I must confess that I have a genuine fondness for Prom Night, and I still enjoy myself every time I watch it. 1978-1983 was truly a magical era when the horror genre exploded with low budget delights, and if you hold those golden years in your heart, your chances of forgiving this film's trespasses are much better.
While other slasher flicks of the early eighties involved an
identifiable villain slicing and dicing countless teens, "Prom Night"'s
killer remained a mystery. But like all good horrors, there is a back
story which sets up the reason for the killings, in this case, the
motif is purely revenge.
Four childhood friends who would later grow up to be the school's nice boy, diva, meek girl and geek girl, were all involved in the death of another young girl. That girl is the sister of Jamie Lee Curtis' character, Kim. And, as Prom Night approaches, someone is hunting down those four former friends.
Jamie Lee Curtis is obviously the main reason to watch this film, but "Prom Night" is not without other good points. The idea of a murderer prowling around on Prom Night is great, the music is very cool, especially the song on the closing credits. Oh, and Jamie Lee Curtis sure can dance! The rest of the cast are pretty good. Leslie Nielson's involvement is minimal, though Antionette Bower is wasted. Pita Oliver, David Mucci, Casey Stevens and Anne-Marie Martin as the school diva are especially note worthy.
Another average slasher flick, one of two that scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis
made back to back during her time in Canada fresh from her fame in John
Carpenter's Halloween in 1978. It opens with four young kids in an abandoned
building playing a macarible game when one girl joins them and it leads to
her accidently falling out of a second floor window to her death. The four
kids (three girls and a boy) make a pack never to mention it to anyone. But
six years later, someone knows about the killing and decides to get those
four responsible. As it also happens the anniversary of the death coincides
with the big high school prom which the kids are all attending, making it
convenient to borrow big ideas from movies like Carrie (1976) among others
for the characters, situations and subplots.
Although it has some good qualities and was moderately successful when first released, the movie is bloodless in almost every respect, plus the murders are so murky and dimly lit. Jamie Lee Curtis, playing Kim, the older sister of the murdered young girl, is good as the popular student who wants to be elected prom queen. But she, unfortunatly, is not one of the four students targeted by the masked ax-weilding killer. In fact, she frequently becomes a suspect along with her father the school principal, as well as her younger brother Alex, the creepy school janitor, and the school bully. But the identity of the killer is fairly obvious. But so much time is spent on establishing red herrings that more than two-thirds of the movie pass before any of the killings begin. The production values are also good, but the film is starting to show its age.
Contents: Six killings, scant blood, one decapitation, Jamie Lee Curtis as prom queen, no nudity, no real suspense, no pace, lots of disco music and dancing, sit this one out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Prom Night" is one of the horror films that is highly underrated. What
this film has that most horror films from the 80's generation
(including some from these past two generations) do not take the time
to develop is a strong plot with good character development. Of course
these come with good screen writing.
Having said that, as a consequence the viewer actually has to sit through a building story, which takes a while to build up.
Therefore about 50 minutes of the film is dedicated solely to that. But that's not to say there aren't any moments of suspense or slight uneasiness. But during the prom sequence the film has a tendency to lose track of the fact that it is a horror film, and so there may come a time during the film that you'll ask yourself "what is it I'm watching again?"
There are a few possibilities as to who could be doing the killings and why, but the revelation was a bit predictable and if you pay close attention to the film there are actually intentional hints dropped. This I found to be quite clever. Also, most horror movies don't leave the audience on a sad not but this one actually did, something rare to find in a horror film, and it was nice to see.
Those who are expecting a horror film with excessive gore scenes will not find it in this horror film. For Paul Lynch's "Prom Night" it is mostly what you do not see that makes you cringe.
"Prom Night" runs approximately 89 minutes in length, and should at least be considered as a rental. "Prom Night" is not a forgettable horror movie, and has memorable moments. Roughly 39 minutes of the film will keep you on edge and entertained, especially during Kelly's chase scene. Whilst the other 50 minutes will keep you for the most part intrigued. ***1/2 Stars Out of *****
Prom Night is an excellent Canadian horror/mystery movie from 1980. It
starts with a group of kids playing a game in an abandoned building
that turns horribly wrong. A young girl they were picking on falls out
the top window to her death. The kids decide to keep quiet about their
involvement in the incident. They don't know that someone was there and
saw everything that happened. Fifteen years later, it's prom night at
the high school and all those kids are now grown up getting ready to
graduate. A mysterious, unseen person starts calling all of the people
that were involved in the little girl's death years ago, spooking each
of them. Soon after, most of the teenagers start getting murdered
during prom. Most of the deaths are in the actual school when no one is
around. All of this leading up to a well done ending which reveals the
This is what the 80's were about. This disco music, the dancing, the fashion! It's just a great 80's horror film. The disco/music score is amazing. Prom Night is known as a slasher flick, but I would say it's more of a murder mystery. We actually have to guess who the killer is. There are actually quite a few suspects. The deaths were probably well done, but on the DVD versions, the quality is so poor you can barely make out who is who. Jamie Lee Curtis and the late Leslie Nielsen rock their roles of course. However another actress, Eddie Benton, adds real energy to the film also as the vixen Wendy.
The killer dresses in all black including a black ski mask with cut out eye holes. His main (and only) weapon is a large axe. The one particular chase scene is Wendy's. He chases her around the interior of the darkened school for a good ten minutes. There are some really tense scenes as the killer pops out of everywhere trying to kill her with his wielding axe. The film location of the dark high school at night really add a spooky feeling to the movie. It's amazing.
All of the characters are root-able. You really feel for most of them, even the vicious Wendy. The poor girl gets chased around the classrooms for so long, you almost want her to make it out of the movie alive. This is a very creepy and underrated horror film that should be seen by all. Much better than the sequels and the "remake" which was done a few years ago.
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