In the 80s if kids weren’t been stalked by knife wielding lunatics through the woods they were most likely being chased by axe wielding nut cases through their school hallways. It’s during this time period that Jamie Lee Curtis cemented her title as “Scream Queen” with her starring roles in John Carpenter’s seminal classic Halloween then followed by The Fog, Terror Train and Prom Night with the latter one being of less dubious quality. Somehow director Paul Lynch’s Prom Night achieved “Cult Status” and if someone can explain to me how that happened I’d be eternally grateful. It’s just not that good a movie. Nor is it bad enough to be entertaining ironically.
It begins with your standard “horrible death” prologue where we see a group of kids playing a type of hide and seek game in an abandoned convent where the person who is “it” pretends to be a killer hunting down his/her prey. When 10-year-old Robin Hammond tries to join them she is chased by the group as they chant, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” The poor scared girl backs away and out through a window from which she falls to her death. The four children vow to never speak of this incident to anyone. Unbeknownst to them a mysterious figure has seen it all.
The local authorities assume Robin’s death was committed by convicted sex-offender Leonard Murch who flees from police questioning and ends up in a fiery car crash. Murch spends the next six years comatose in a state mental hospital, but on the anniversary of Robin’s death we learn that the horribly burned man has awakened and escaped with a nurse as hostage. Surely this cannot be a coincidence.
Robin’s now grown-up siblings; Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Alex Hammond (Michael Tough), are readying for Prom while their mother (Antoinette Bower) is still reeling from this now six year old tragedy. Their father (Leslie Nielsen) is the school principal and though having virtually no impact on the story, or much screen time for that matter, manages to get top billing over Jamie Lee Curtis.
What follows is one of the most tedious slasher films I’ve ever seen. The few kills we get don’t really start happening until well after the hour mark and most of them are downright tame even by 80s standards. The movie also seems to be stuck trying to be Brian Depalma’s Carrie with school bitch Wendy (Anne-Marie Martin) teaming up with resident lunkhead Lou (David Mucci) to pull off a nasty prank against Kim at the prom while also trying to be a Halloween rip-off with the killer from the past returning to town scenario.
Do you like Disco? Well if so you are in for a treat because this score contains six knock-off versions of popular disco hits of the 80s. Composer Paul Zaza had only five days to write the songs and was told to, “Make them as close enough to the original songs to get us sued but not close enough for them to win.”
Who could the killer be? Is it the horribly disfigured asylum escapee hell-bent on revenge? Could it be the distraught mother whose grief has turned her insane? What about the creepy new groundskeeper the school just hired? Will police detective McBride (George Touliatos) actually do any police work other than loiter around a high school prom?
If you are the type of person who really enjoys endless shots of a woman running up and down school halls, hiding in dark places, then being found by the killer followed by more running and hiding that goes on for FUCKING EVER then maybe you will get some entertainment out of this film. To make matters worse the movie has barely any nudity or blood in it with only the decapitation of the idiot Lou containing any kind of gore. It should almost have its “Slasher Film License” revoked.
The cast is fine as they give genuinely decent performances with Jamie Lee Curtis actually getting nominated for a Genie Award and the cinematography is top notch, but those are the only positive things I can say about this flick. Of course one has to look past the fact that most of the students of Hamilton High School seem to be in their late twenties or early thirties but what I can’t forgive is how deathly boring this film is. The final reveal of who the killer actually is will not go down in the annals of “awesome twists” like in Sleepaway Camp because by the end of this film you most likely have stopped carrying about anything let alone who the killer is. Also the film cheats, as it clearly shows us the killer’s brown eyes (same as on the poster) but when his mask is pulled off at the end…surprise its ole blue eyes. I won’t spoil who the killer is here but I will say this, he makes the idiot killers from Scream look incredibly competent.