Friday, 20 April 2018



Yet another example of the eighties slasher ripoff: after Halloween and Friday The 13th came a whole string of weak duplicates and very slight variations of very familiar themes. A few were actually pretty decent and managed to find something in the subgenre's bag of tricks; more were just incredibly dull and unrewarding despite a level of technical competence (remember that some didn't even have that). The weird thing about this 1980 slasher is that while it's mainly notable as one of Jamie Lee Curtis' immediate run of post-Halloween horror movies (along with Terror Train and The Fog) much of it owes less of a debt to Halloween than to Carrie, only without the telekinetic fire and fury, the dazzling filmmaking skill, the brilliantly orchestrated set pieces or the high level of acting and writing.

Six years after a young girl died in an abandoned convent after a game of hide and seek went very badly wrong, the four now-teenaged perpetrators start receiving mysterious phone calls from an anonymous heavy breather. A sex offender who was (wrongly) convicted of the girl's death six year ago has now escaped from the asylum and may be in the area. Meanwhile, the school's bitchy Queen Bee Wendy (one of the four) is planning to humiliate Prom Queen Kim (Curtis) because Wendy's boyfriend has dumped her....

Prom Night is a sub-standard assemblage of slasher tropes that's frankly no better than Final Exam and a long, long way behind something like Rosemary's Killer or even Happy Birthday To Me (which was rubbish). After the opening set-up sequence, there's no slashing for almost an hour as the film instead focuses on the most thumpingly obvious of red herrings and the achingly uninteresting soap opera of high school romance and petty idiocy leading up to the big dance. No-one cares about your squalid love lives and relationships: we bought tickets (or clicked the Watch Now button) for a high school slasher movie and for far too long that's not what we ended up watching. Granted, in the end the killer gets down to some proper slashing and we do get a half-decent severed head out of it, but that's nowhere near enough. And the big reveal of the Mystery Mad Axe Murderer has no effect because their identity is pretty obvious (admittedly I've seen it before, but that was over thirty years ago and I'd long forgotten who it was: I usually can't remember where I left my car keys half an hour ago).

Prom Night really isn't any good: it's one of those titles that has somehow survived the years, with three in-name-only sequels (none of which troubled the inside of a British cinema) and an absolute nothing of a remake, an entirely forgettable teenslash with not enough slash, never interesting enough to become worth watching, never shocking or grisly enough to become memorable. Even the mighty Leslie Nielsen in a straight role as the school Principal can't elevate it. Made in Canada by Paul (Humongous) Lynch.


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