Film Review: Prom Night (1980)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prom Night is probably the stand out from the 80s slasher boom which followed the runaway success of Halloween.

The story is basically a Halloween ripoff, with the added ‘whodunnit’ mythology mixed in to perfect effect.

A young girl is accidentally killed a group of children (being knocked out of a window), and now 6 years later someone wants to revenge. Is it the disfigured sex offender who has just escaped the local mental asylum? Is it the odd looking school gardener? Or is it someone else?

On first watch Prom Night keeps you guessing right until ‘the big reveal’.

The film’s strength relies in its casting of ‘Scream Queen’ Jamie Lee Curtis, and Leslie Nielsen as her dad and the Headmaster, who really carry the narrative without becoming the focal point of it.

The killer is also a vicious little bugger, in his simple all black outfit and balaclava. It just goes to show by keeping it simple, you can actually scare people. When the deaths come they are suitably brutal (it is a slasher after all), with tension built up beforehand. Something that many slashers jumped the gun on.

As  I have mentioned in the past Prom Night was one of the influences behind Scream; and if you dissect the film you can see its blueprints all over it. Menacing phone calls, the ‘whodunnit’, set in a high school etc.

Director Paul Lynch also employs the flashback technique to excellent effect, with instant shots used throughout to identify the teenagers as the children who committed the crime at the start; call it an idiots guide in case your mind wanders.

There were three sequels made to Prom Night in subsequent years but none bear any resemblance to this film.

If you’re looking for the perfect pretender to Halloween’s crown, hire Prom Night today it won’t disappoint.

 

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