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Cliche Through and Through, ‘Prom Night’ (1980) Still Manages Nostalgic Fun (Review)

Written by: Matt Molgaard

Directed by: Paul Lynch

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Michael Tough, Mary Beth Rubens

Prom Night isn’t a great movie. It sorely neglects the participation of Jamie Lee Curtis (seriously, she just blends right into an assortment of young attractive cast members), the killer is awfully predictable, it’s extremely cliche and there isn’t a lick of quality gore in the entire film. The acting in general is sub-par, and story is loaded with hokey dialogue and loose ends. It’s just a dreadful film, all around.

So why do wierdos like myself enjoy it? Because it takes us back to a different time, when horror didn’t necessarily have to be overtly complex. When a little T&A, a shiny blade and a mask of just about any sort entertained. When Jamie Lee Curtis still ruled the horror roost. It’s called nostalgia, and sometimes it blurs the lines reality has illuminated.

While the lines are quite clear for me, I have no qualms in admitting I’m a fan of the film. It’s still good for a night alone with a cold 12-pack. It’s still a blast watching Jamie at the height of her genre buzz, during her peak output years. Leslie Nielson is in the movie, for goodness sakes! There are more than enough unintentionally humorous scenes to get me through it all. Prom Night is, in short, a true guilty pleasure.

The story opens with a shot of a handful of children playing hide and seek in an abandoned building. Things go south when a new player welcomes herself into the game. She’s teased and badgered until she falls out of a second story window, directly to her death. Fast forward a handful of years and the kids involved in the “accident” are gearing up for senior prom. As are Kim and Alex (Curtis and Michael Tough, respectively), who just so happen to be the siblings of Robin, the girl who was killed in the films opening frames. As soon as the prom gets underway, those involved with Robin’s death begin dropping like flies. Someone in a ski mask is slaughtering them mercilessly.

Yeah… I’d say that qualifies as formulaic. There’s no true mystery here, and the attempts at creating red herrings are little more than cringe worthy misfires. No one believes the creepy custodian at the high school is the killer. Sorry. Not buying it. No, viewers just use their common sense and reach an immediate conclusion: Either Mr. Hammond, or Alex is responsible for the murders. This is clearly a case of murderous vengeance, and there are only so many plausible suspects to finger. It’s too bad director Paul Lynch didn’t choose to go with one of those red herrings, it would have ultimately proven more shocking.

If you’ve never seen the original Prom Night (I recommend you never see the remake, as it’s a disaster and a half), you’re probably not missing a heart stealer. Again, this is the kind of flick that really appeals to the “older” fan who has some form of attachment to it. By today’s standards it’s a flat, basic picture. By all standards, it’s pretty underwhelming. That said, if you have seen it, and it does hold a special place in your heart, cheers. I’m with you.

Rating: 2/5


About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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