There are countless movies that exist in the lexicon that we just don’t catch up with for a variety of reasons. While “Prom Night” exists almost solely to cash in on the success of movies like “Halloween” & “The Fog”, it still works as a unique little time capsule of the time that plays less gory and more dramatic that I had initially expected.
It’s time for some Disco Madness as Hamilton High School is getting ready for their prom, but four seniors are hiding a terrible secret. Years earlier they bore witness and were responsible for what happened as a terrible and mean spirited game turned into a horrible tragedy. They swore to themselves to secrecy to never talk about what happened, but little did they know, someone saw what they did and they’ve been waiting all this time to get their gruesome revenge. Donning a black hood and carrying an axe he hunts down his prey one by one at the prom and when the spotlight shines on the newly crowned prom king and queen it will be time for him to play his deadly game.
I’ll admit, it isn’t the best movie but there is something about “Prom Night” as it ramps up to its Disco Madness it manages to keep a solid charm to it as these surprisingly mature looking high school teenagers go on their sexual adventures and try not to get killed in a narrative that is more than a bit of a mess.
One of the early features in the career of director Paul Lynch, it had a decent enough flow to it all and while the story and premise of it all is just pretty ridiculous it makes for a fun build as if riffs and borrows from many many horror films that have come before it and will come long after it. As it tries to tell the two stories of the kids getting ready for Prom and the maniac on the loose, things can get a little muddled from time to time, almost to the point that it tries to do too much and a little bit more simplicity could have helped the narrative a lot at the end of the day. The character development is pretty nonexistent but we still embrace it all as the lives of these teenagers as they know it is about to come to a head so it is not only relatable but it logically makes for a perfect time for a killer to exact revenge. The scenes in the prom actually looked pretty damn good and the entire experience was the right balance of sexual energy that bristled right on the surface (as it does when you are that age) and thrilling kills and spills.
Playing off her scream queen fame, Jamie Lee Curtis at the ripe old age of 22 at the time just had to carry herself well and look good in a low cut top, but it did fall short of some of the great work that she has done in other movies (particularly the John Carpenter ones) before and after this one, as she wasn’t so much the heroine, just the one who didn’t end up getting killed. I quite honestly don’t know why Leslie Nielsen was cast in this movie because he just didn’t do that much and actually ended up being a distraction from the rest of the movie. The rest of the cast is actually fairly faceless other then Jeff Wincott in one of his first on screen appearances.
Picture and sound quality are OK, but I can imagine the original camera negatives may not have been in the best shape so under the circumstances it all looks pretty good. The special features include a feature length audio commentary track from director Paul Lynch and screenwriter William Gray, a making of documentary, additional scenes that were shot for the TV broadcast, exclusive never before seen outtakes , a motion stills gallery, original radio & TV spots as well as the original theatrical trailer.
At the end of the day, is “Prom Night” a must own movie in the slasher genre…probably not but it successfully maintains a very aware sense of self and makes for a fun little time capsule to kick back and laugh with.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Prom Night” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all major retailers.