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.
8 thoughts on “Prom Night (1980)”
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I saw this when I was a kid, but don’t remember much about it, but I liked it at the time. Wasn’t Leslie Nielson in it? As the principal or a teacher or something? I like the HD pic you found!
Haha, the quality of pictures online wasn’t great 🙂 I might replace it with a better screenshot of my own doing in the near future.
I could imagine it being enjoyable if you hadn’t seen many other slasher films (ie. as a kid) but, like, *everything* that’s good about it has been done better by other films both before and after it.
And yeah, Leslie Nielsen was around in it (as the principal I believe but don’t quote me on that), before he embraced his comedic side.
I actually had seen a lot of slasher films at the time. Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street. lol. But I guess I didn’t like Prom Night enough to ever watch it over again, so I must not have been too crazy about it. For some reason I can’t remember anything about it. But I remember images from Dawn of the Dead – like when that zombie walks too close to the helicopter and has his head taken off by the propellor! lol. And the mall raid. The mall raid. lol.
Nice post, Dave! I see you posted about Prom Night 2 too. I’m heading over to read that next, but I thought it was tons of fun and better than this. The best part about this movie was the disco scene you captured in your screen shot : )
Thanks! It does seem like I’m the minority not being a big fan of this film (though I do recognise its charms!), but all it really needed was a bit more blood and boobs to succeed.
Also I updated my screenshot to a slightly better one, but man, the quality of the DVD – particularly during that scene – is not great. I’d wanted to talk more about the unintentional hilarity of the disco dancing scene but had to edit it out to fit 200 words.
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