Prom Night (1980) Review

Prom_night_film_poster

I just got back from dinner and the comic book store with my hubby. There’s a great Mexican restaurant near our house that serves great food and very large margaritas. I only say that here because I’m totally buzzed right now so it’ll be interesting to see how this review goes.

Prom Night (the original, thankyouverymuch) has been playing on cable for a while now. Seems once a movie gets stuck in cable’s craw it takes a long time for them to pick it out so they just show it over and over and over. The original, though 34 years old, is still SO much better than the lame ass remake. But then again, originals usually are.

Prom Night begins six years prior to the main story. A group of kids are playing “Killer”. It’s like Hide & Seek with psychotic undertones (hey, I used to play Ghosts in the Graveyard so who the hell am I to judge?). In the days where abandoned buildings filled with rusty metal and broken glass were the playgrounds of youth, these four kids in particular have chosen an empty convent in which to play. The Hammond children, oldest Kim, and 10-year old twins Alex and Robin, happen upon the twisted game. Kim forgot something at school and returns. Alex thinks the other kids are stupid and walks home leaving Robin alone with her innocence and curious nature. When Robin interrupts the game, the four kids turn on her, shouting ‘the killers are coming’ until she is backed against a window in terror then crashes through the weak structure to her death.

awwww_craaaaap
My bad. Sorry little dead girl!

Immediately the ring leader of the group, Wendy, tell the other three (Nick, Kelly, Jude) to keep their damn mouths shut about this or they’ll all go to jail. So they promptly abandon Robin’s corpse. Unfortunately for them, a shadow looms over Robin’s broken body indicating that someone else witnessed their crime.

Flash forward to all our young people grown into high school Seniors on the day of Prom. Our grown up murderers are getting creepy phone calls from a breathy unknown weirdo. I think WE all know what’s up but each of them blows it off as nothing, even though the caller says to each of them, “I’ll see you at the prom”. Personally I wouldn’t have left the house all day after something like that but then I was never all that tough.

The Prom seems to go swimmingly until, that is, everyone starts to die. At the last moment, just after it’s too late, Kim figures out who the killer is, no thanks to the police who were chasing Red Herring #2 all through the movie.

Do you hear that? It's the sound of me never escaping the title of Scream Queen.
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of me never escaping the title of Scream Queen.

(I MIGHT END UP SPOILING SOMETHING HERE SO FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS, STOP READING NOW AND THEN SOAK IN MY STARE OF UNADULTERATED INCREDULITY)

This film tries to build a lot of atmosphere with creepy music and dark lighting. Doesn’t always succeed but there is a definite tension in the air throughout the whole flick. For me I felt it mostly because the Hammond family suffered a huge loss but never learned the truth and so no one ever gets a sense of closure or peace. One of the kids responsible, Nick, feels the burden of unconfessed guilt that he’s carried for 6 years. The cops are on high alert from the recent escape of a pedophile they believe committed Robin’s murder and might try to kill again.

Unfortunately the writers try to throw in too many red herrings (there are at least 3). Also there’s a lot of “Carrie wanna be” with the dance set up, the coupling of Wendy and loser asshole Lou to take revenge on Kim and Nick, though Wendy is not as vicious as Nancy Allen’s character. Not to mention the Saturday Night Fever dance sequence at the Prom. Light up floor, stiff white people moves, and disco fashions. Wow. Can’t you guys just be original instead of incorporating a half a dozen elements from other horror movies? I also had a bit of problem with Kelly, Jude, and Nick being friends with Kim, knowing they were the ones responsible for Robin’s death. How could they look her in the eye every day? How could Nick date her, for cripes sake?

Though this fails on the fronts of originality and some believability, the entire feel of the film is genuine. I like those films where someone did wrong years earlier and it comes back to bite him in the ass. All evil doers get their comeuppance eventually. The acting is also fairly strong, even from the no names or lesser known actors.

And now for our interpretive dance!
And now for our interpretive dance!

My favorite moment, though, is the big reveal. Kim realizes, after bashing the killer in the head with an axe, that it’s her young brother, Alex, who saw what really happened to his twin sister, Robin, and has been twisted and tortured for the past six years until he could exact his revenge. You can see the grief and regret in Kim’s eyes as her heart shatters.

Not the best horror film of the era but I always enjoy watching it.

3 Hatchets (out of 5)

6 thoughts on “Prom Night (1980) Review

  1. I’ve been wanting to catch this film since I saw the horrible remake. I should really make it a priority. And you know what else has a horrible remake? My Bloody Valentine. I saw the original, and then the remake, and I thought to myself, “Why did they try to remake something that was already so good?”

      1. Yeah, it made more sense to me as well. Sometimes I like to pretend the remake simply never happened. (I hear Anne Rice does that with the movie version of Queen of the Damned, which considering how bad it was isn’t too hard to believe).

  2. Your review is great (especially buzzed!), which is all the more impressive considering I think Prom Night is a bit of a snooze. But I’m sure I’m in the minority on that one. Anyway, great read!

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