Horror, Slasher, Thriller

Prom Night (1980)

0 Comments 15 September 2014

prom night blu

Studio: Synapse

Theatrical Release: July 18, 1980

Blu Ray Release: September 9, 2014

Director: Paul Lynch


Review by James Klein

If you took Halloween and mixed it with Saturday Night Fever and sprinkled it over Carrie, one would get Prom Night, the disco/slasher film from 1980 starring the legendary scream queen at the time, Jamie Lee Curtis. And Synapse has put out once again a blu ray that celebrates this particular gem of a horror film.

Maybe my favorite aspect of Prom Night is the opening, a spooky intro of our characters as young children playing a mean-spirited hide and seek type game. As the children corner the weak Robin inside an abandoned building, she backs up to a window and falls through it, falling to her demise. The children all make a pact and vow not to tell anyone what has happened to Robin in fear of going to jail, leaving the dead child alone outside (with a huge piece of glass protruding from her neck I might add). When her father (Leslie Nielsen) finds his daughter, he fears it could be a child molester, feeling guilt for what has happened to her.

The film jumps six years later as the eldest daughter Kim (Curtis) and younger brother Alex (Michael Tough) are with Nielsen still mourning the death of their sister/daughter. As the rest of the children who made the pact are getting ready for school, each one gets a phone call from a stranger asking if they still “like to play games”. It’s never really clear why the killer does this aside from introducing the viewer to each child and who they are now. As the teens experience strange situations like glass breaking in the girls locker room or hearing about an escaped convict on the loose or being creeped out by the scary looking janitor, the movie is just a build up to the prom, which is when each of the teens are taken out by a ski masked killer in black.

Prom Night doesn’t focus much on the blood or the kills and relies heavily on suspense as the teens are stalked and chased inside the school until they are dispatched by the unseen stalker. Is it the escaped convict? Is it Robin’s father? Is it the creepy janitor? Who is the killer exacting the revenge on what had happened years ago? Maybe I’ve seen too many horror films but if one doesn’t know who the killer is before the revelation, I would be surprised as it is quite obvious. And that is where Prom Night fails. It tries so hard to be a mystery when one with an IQ of over 90 could figure out. And the viewer has to sit through long ridiculous dance numbers at the school’s disco ball to find out.

While Prom Night is quite ridiculous and un-intentionally funny, it does have a certain charm and innocence that I happen to like. It is a fun film once the killer starts to go after the victims and while the build up is drawn out, the movie thankfully doesn’t fall apart thanks to the strong performances by the cast. While what these teens did as kids was bad, most of them have changed for the good and when they are killed off, it doesn’t have the same feel like a Friday the 13th or Halloween film; these teens aren’t annoying or cliche caricatures. What is also odd but yet sweet is the rather downbeat, depressing ending. This may be one of the few slasher films from the 80’s where one leaves the theater feeling sad.

Simply put: the blu ray for Prom Night kicks ass. I used to own the old Image laserdisc and while that looked better than most VHS tapes, the film still looked rather foggy and dated. The blu ray looks crystal clear yet the fog filtered opening and film grain still remains prominent. There are many sequences that take place at night where it was hard to even see what was going on at times. All that is now fixed. And Synapse has now given the option to listen to Prom Night in 2.0 or 5.1, both sounding full (I actually jumped a little when a mirror breaks, blasting from my speakers behind me as if in the distance). Fans also get the deleted scenes that used to be shown on TV when it aired back in the day, never before seen outtakes of the filming of Prom Night (this was enjoyable, the highlight being the marker almost clipping Nielsen in the face, with the date of August 1979 written on it). There is an audio commentary track by Paul Lynch and screenwriter William Gray. A rather detailed featurette on the making of the film and the theatrical trailer and radio spots rounding out the rest of the special features.

While Prom Night is rather dated (it’s still ten times better than the atrocious 2008 remake) and quite silly, it still makes for a fun late night viewing which has now been enhanced thanks to the folks at Synapse.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★★½


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