I have a soft spot for ‘80s slasher films. It’s because they remind me of the enticing, illicit possibilities that young adulthood holds when you’re a young teenager. The promise of freedom, fun, forbidden pleasures and, naturally, sex. Paired with temptation is an all-consuming sense of danger, and slasher films generally personify that as some mute hulk with a bladed weapon.
Slasher films of this era are unambitious, the same basic ingredients put together – attractive teenagers hanging out, a bit of sex, a bit of murder, generally some comic relief (sometimes intentional!) – but while the ingredients might only make a decent sandwich, who doesn’t like a sandwich?
Prom Night is composed of great ingredients – slasher queen Jamie Lee-Curtis amongst a decent bunch of actors, a honest-to-goodness mystery to give the murderer a (gasp!) motive – but it never comes together to create a satisfactory meal. The mystery is kind of a damp squib, for one, but I think the main problem is that it never creates that sense of danger or desire that a half-decent slasher requires. There’s rarely an atmosphere of fear, and slasher mainstays like gratuitous nudity and gore are nowhere to be seen: my inner twelve-year-old was unimpressed.