Prom Night


[Listen to our discussion of Prom Night and its remake on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]

“Killers are coming! Killers are coming! Killers are coming!”

Prom Night is a trip down memory lane, not so much for the prom (skipped that with the girlfriend to ante up insufferable indie cred) but for the setting: the suburbs of Toronto, where the writers of this site grew up.

Ontario in this case is a surrogate for another expanse of geography that begins and ends with “o;” Ohio. But it’s clearly and undeniably Toronto of the 1970s, complete with Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus stops, local schools, accents and even stars (Leslie Nielsen).

Along with Halloween, Prom Night was an early blueprint for slasher film archetypes. There’s harassing phone calls, a virgin, a geek, silly period dialogue (“Sit on it, ape!”), an escaped mental patient, a bully and his henchmen, a creepy school custodian/maintenance man…and of course, there’s an authority figure who says there’s no need to spread widespread panic and a masked axe/glass shard killer who certainly does!

prom-nightWhat sets this apart is that it’s paced like the shifting of tectonic plates (the city morgue isn’t inundated with high body counts like in every subsequent slasher and there’s loads of yakking). Also, the killer is stalking victims he feels were complicit in the falling death of a classmate six years prior (Robin, who fell out a window after being chased by kids sinisterly repeating the line that begins this review).

Timelines are a funny thing. This reviewer pegs the age of the kids at about 10-11 but fast-forwarding chronologically has weathered every protagonist, especially Jamie Lee Curtis as Kim, who looks like a grad student! In fact, as she wanders the halls one wonders if she isn’t faculty.

It is damn-near impossible not to think Frank Drebin when chaperoning school principal Mr. Hammond (Leslie Nielsen, Naked Gun) dons a tux and hits the dance floor on prom night.

There’s scarcely any nudity but there’s period drug-taking and a guy who carries weed in a hollowed out book about American history and has a badass van with cool decals.

There’s a terrific dance sequence featuring everyone’s favorite scream queen sashaying across the dance floor, Studio 54-style and some unique comic relief as the killer isn’t the most sure-footed of psychopaths.

Worth a look for horror buffs but doesn’t have the pace, harrowing atmosphere or scares of a Halloween. And it didn’t make the jugular cut in our list of the Top 7 Toronto Horror Movies.

*** (out of 5)

Published by Really Awful Movies

Genre film reviewers covering horror and action films. Books include: Mine's Bigger Than Yours! The 100 Wackiest Action Movies and Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.

3 thoughts on “Prom Night

  1. I like Prom Night, but I would easily put it on the lower end of the early 80s slashers. Don’t like the music or dancing and there’s too much of it.

    Several of the scenes are so dark I have a hard time figuring out what was going on. This was the case in a lot of slashers from that period, but this one seemed especially bad. Synapse does such an amazing job with blu rays that I’m tempted to pick it up just to see if I can make more of it out.

    It’s not a complete dud though. That opening with the kids is incredible. It has almost everything I love about early 80s horror.

    For me, the bottom line is, I have to put more work into enjoying Prom Night than I should. I really only enjoy it because I can’t get enough of that particular genre.

    By the way, “sit on it, ape!” is no longer contemporary? I wonder how many other phrases I use have fallen out of style…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! If it’s any consolation, we feel there’s nothing wrong with “sit on it, ape!”

      Prom Night is a B-list slasher to be sure, but there are definite elements to enjoy. Synapse’s Blu is a revelation – definitely the best the film has ever looked.

      Liked by 1 person

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