Despite being released during the early slasher boom of 1980, Canadian film Prom Night still manages to be a cliché of the genre with particular reference to Carpenter’s seminal genre breakthrough ‘Halloween’ amongst others.
Featuring an escaped mental patient, bent on returning to a town for revenge, sinister phone calls to intended victims and a creepy janitor, the most impressive homage director Paul Lynch manages is actually getting the star of Halloween and soon-to-be certified scream queen, Jamie Lee-Curtis, to be the lead girl in this movie, also for fans of cinema you will notice Leslie Nielsen appears in this film, but don’t expect laughs as this was before he became known for comedy and his part in this film is minimal.
Ironically for a film which borrowed so much it has also influenced slashers, in particular films such as ‘I know what you did last summer’ and ‘House on Sorority Row/ Sorority Row’ so has at least helped contribute to the genre in some way.
Opening with a children’s game gone wrong, resulting in the accidental death of ten-year-old Robin Hammond, the four bullies make a pact to never speak of the event again, and a local paedophile takes the wrap for the crime and ends up imprisoned. Six years later, Hamilton High School seniors are gearing up for that special night – Prom, but our four brats start to receive sinister calls as someone is out for revenge, could it be just to ruin the event for the Prom Queen or something more dangerous.
Despite a very long set up, and sub-plots including clique wars and love built on lies, many of the important scenes are short on suspense which detracts somewhat and doesn’t help the movie age well. Thankfully however, the film is pulled through from some fine performances (in particular Lee-Curtis), fun disco music and the odd decapitated head. Playing more like a teen-comedy-drama in parts than a horror, this is emphasised by the general lack of decent, graphic kills, even if the body count of eight is still pretty average for an 80s slasher and the mystery killer element certainly adds some interest to the film, even if it could be better executed.
Appearing slightly dated now, this run of the mill slasher doesn’t stand out or really provide much in the gore stakes but is still an enjoyable watch for any fans of the genre, with the cast raising its profile higher than it really deserves. If you are just starting your investigation into 80s slashers then go for something like The Burning or Pieces instead.
About Marek Zacharkiw
An aspiring horror writer and screenwriter, I have been a horror film fanatic since I first saw a pair of heaving bosoms squeezed into a corset during a taped from TV version of The Plague of the Zombies, from then on I was hooked graduating my way up through genres and levels of extremity. As well as being contributing to several web and blog sites I also run zombipedia.com