Prom Night (1980)
Today we have a movie that is regarded as yet another classic. Truth be told, it may be the first on screen version of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” although, I will probably have to do some research to confirm that.
There really wasn’t a whole lot of substance to this movie though. I did think that because it was starring Jamie Lee Curtis, the ULTIMATE SCREAM QUEEN in my opinion, that we would get more of her being scared and traumatized but, it just didn’t happen that way.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
We start in 1974 with four kids playing some twisted version of hide and seek called ‘The Killer Is Gonna Get You’ (or something close to that, we aren’t told the name of this child’s play so, I’m guessing). They are chasing each other around an abandoned building (as I’ve said before, kids are SO SMART in horror movies, insert massive eye roll here). There’s Wendy (the apparent spawn of Satan wrapped in the guise of a little girl, who also happens to be the apparent leader of the group of friends, Jude, Nick and Kelly (who all appear to be regular average kids, well, except for this game they choose to play).
These eleven-year-old children are enjoying their play when ten-year-old Robin Hammond and her two siblings, Alex (brother) and Kim (sister) walk by and Robin wanders into the building and tries to join in. Unfortunately, all alone because her siblings continued walking, she quickly succumbs to relentless bullying and while trying to flee from her tormentors, falls out of a window to her death.
Instead of calling the police or an adult, these geniuses decide to make a pact between the four of them to never mention the incident to anyone ever…and move on with their lives. They leave the scene thinking that no one knows what has happened but, WE see a shadow over little Robin’s body, letting us know someone knows the truth.
Fast forward six years to 1980. These kids are all in high school now. It’s the day of the prom. During the day and the events of getting ready for the prom, these four teens (Wendy, Jude, Nick and Kelly) get taunting phone calls from someone with a sad attempt at a creepy voice, warning them that something will happen to them on prom night. All of them get the call and somewhat blow if off except for Nick, he’s not home when the call comes in. (For you younger folks, this was a time when there were no cell phones.)
We finally get to prom. Wendy is all pissed off at Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) because she is going to prom with Nick (Wendy’s ex-boyfriend) and they are Prom King and Queen together. (Wendy has a major attitude problem…with everyone.)
Everyone has a date to the prom. While the event is going on, Jude and her date are killed in his van after having sex and smoking pot (rule breakers!). Kelly and her boyfriend Drew are in the gym changing room making out during the dance and when she refuses to go all the way through with sex he storms out and she gets attacked and killed.
So now, the only ones left from the original group are Nick and Wendy. Wendy has decided to go to the prom with the school douchebag and they are plotting a revenge to embarrass Kim and Nick as they get crowned. Wendy takes a break from the festivities to go to the ladies’ room to touch up her makeup (which I will say, happens way more than it should in this movie, all these chicks do is apply makeup).
While in the bathroom, Wendy is confronted by the killer and is chased through the school and eventually killed after finding her friend, Kelly, deceased and stashed in a storage room that she chooses to hide in (again, dumb).
Now it’s just Nick. He and Kim are getting ready for their crowning as King and Queen when the school douchebag whacks Nick over the head and knocks him out while the couple is separated, waiting on opposite sides of the stage for the processional.
Then, our killer, who mistakes King douchebag for Nick, approaches him and chops his head off with an axe and jerk boy’s head goes rolling down the stage into the crowd, causing horrified teens and teachers to run panicked everywhere.
Here is when Kim finds Nick and helps him to “freedom” …but it’s not freedom. The killer finds them on the dance floor and attacks Nick…the last of the four from the childhood incident. Kim, who is incredibly in love with Nick, runs to his aid and wallops the killer on the head with his own axe, which has been thrown aside in the scuffle. Kim and the killer lock eyes and Kim instantly recognizes that she knows this person.
The killer flees and runs outside to where the police are waiting. They have guns drawn and Kim, running out after this perpetrator, screams out not to shoot the killer. She kneels down next to them, removes their mask and we see her brother Alex, dying from the head wound she inflicted upon him.
He explains that they were all guilty and that he was trying to avenge his little sister’s death. He then screams her name, Robin, and dies. Kim is heartbroken at the loss of another sibling and cries.
Whew. Okay. So, really the only redeemable quality about this movie was the chase scene between the killer and Wendy. This killer is one acrobatic runner, I’m talking like a very basic version of Parkour. This guy can jump and twist and leap and avoid so much. It truly was the most entertaining part of the movie.
There is a horrible (and I do mean horrible) disco dance scene with Jamie Lee Curtis and her prom date…thank goodness disco died. That is something no one will ever be able to unsee. And it seemed to go on forever. I didn’t realize songs were that long. Come to find out, Curtis wanted this movie, so I am inclined to believe she CHOSE to do that dance scene…OUCH.
They give top billing to names such as Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis but, we see very little of them in the movie. I expected so much more of Curtis, the kind of screaming we got in Halloween maybe. But, she isn’t even a target in this movie. Even in Scream in 1998 when they gave Drew Barrymore a part in the beginning of the movie, it’s true we didn’t see a lot of her but, they KILLED HER in the first ten minutes. So, really, come on…this is a scream queen…and we get nothing.
Furthermore, these taunting phone calls…please (another eye roll). There are so many scarier things to say to a teenager than what is said in this movie. It all seemed so PG. I don’t watch horror movies for a PG rating. This stuff is supposed to have more mature content than that (and I don’t mean just nudity, which is a staple in a lot of classic 80s horror movies). Give me rated R at least.
The kids at the beginning playing their sicko little game was creepy. I’ll give them that. Any time you have a group of children with angry looks of contempt on their faces gathered around a smaller child who is obviously engulfed in fear and they are yelling “Kill! Kill! Kill!” ...yeah, that’s gonna be unsettling.
Still, this isn’t a movie I will be watching again…unless it’s to show an example of what a PG-13 horror movie would be like. (I only say PG-13 because there is some nudity.) The reveal of the killer was something I called in the first minutes of the movie, seeing the incident and how it took place. There were no good shocks, scares or surprises and it was overall just a flat movie.
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