Prom Night (1980)

prom night poster 1980 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Good set-up

Rather boring, very dated

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Prom Night

Studio:  Avco Embassy Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  July 18, 1980

MPAA Rating:  R

prom-night-child-accidental-murder

We’re totally going to get grounded…

An accident between children leads to the death of Robin Hammond and a promise from Wendy Richards, Jude Cunningham, Kelly Lynch, and Nick McBride to never tell anyone that they were involved.  When a pedophile is captured and blamed for the death, everyone assumes the horror is over.  Ten years later, prom is approaching and Wendy, Jude, Kelly, and Nick are receiving strange calls from a man who seems to know them.  Meanwhile, Robin’s sister Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) and brother Alex (Michael Tough) are preparing for prom and Kim is set to be prom queen with Nick…and it is going to be a prom night they’ll never forget.

prom-night-killer-disco-ending-beachhead-g-i-joe-gi

The killer from Prom Night’s audition for G.I. Joe’s Beachhead

Directed by Paul Lynch, Prom Night is a slasher mystery thriller.  The movie was panned by critics, but became a surprise hit.  The movie did well at the box office and became a cult hit which helped solidify Jamie Lee Curtis as one of the biggest “scream queens” of the slasher period.

Prom Night has a really promising set-up.  With a classic accident that kills a classmate, the horror movie has a bunch of directions it can go.  It takes an interesting path, but it takes too long to get there with not enough happening until the final act.

prom-night-disco-beheading-kill-ending

Lose your head, lose your life!

The story of Prom Night just crawls.  I like that they keep the killer a bit of a mystery (though there are only a couple of choices), but it needed to be a bit more balanced with horror happening a bit more in the middle of the film to keep a pace of terror…the plans of prom night revenge by Jamie Lee Curtis’ and Nick’s enemies just seems like rehash of Carrie and aren’t very interesting.  A lot of the short movie is also devoted to the police looking for the suspect, but that really leads nowhere.  I also like how Leslie Nielsen’s character disappears to draw suspicion but doesn’t show up at the end during the bloodshed despite being the school’s principal.

prom-night-1980-leslie-nielsen-jamie-lee-curtis-disco-dance

Sgt. Frank Drebin…getting down!

Despite being a Jamie Lee Curtis film, Leslie Nielsen gets top billing.  This was back when Nielsen hadn’t really switched to comedy so you had great movies like The Day of the Animals where he really tries to act…and Nielsen wasn’t really a good actor to begin with.  Jamie Lee Curtis really does hold the movie together however, but the nice girl role she’s played in this, Halloween, and Terror Train is a bit old…It would have been fun if she had somehow been the killer (or if casting had gone differently and Eve Plumb…aka “Jan Brady” had gotten the role).

prom-night-1980-nick-and-kim-disco-dance-jamie-lee-curtis-casey-stevens

Giving new meaning to the song “Stayin’ Alive”

The visuals on the movie are very dated.  There is a soft focus style to the film that was common to the ’70s (once again see Carrie for an example or Burnt Offerings).  The disco themed prom probably was already dated by the time the movie was made.  It also lacks a very distinctive killer…though the basic “guy with an axe” theme is always good.

Prom Night is a classic slasher film, but not the best of the slasher line (though it did have a great movie poster).  The movie was popular enough to start a series of films.  Prom Night was followed by Prom Night II:  Hello Mary Lou in 1987Prom Night was also remade in 2008 and once again met with poor reviews.

Related Links:

Prom Night II:  Hello Mary Lou (1987)

Prom Night III:  The Last Kiss (1990)

Prom Night IV:  Deliver Us from Evil (1992)

Prom Night (2008)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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