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‘Prom Night’ (1980) Does Death & Disco Hold Up 34 Years Later?

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Here’s another classic, or perceived classic from the never-ending horror machine known as the early 80s. Jamie Lee Curtis, still riding the horror high from Halloween, Halloween II, and The Fog, stars in director, Paul Lynch’s tale of childhood trauma meets revenge. A group of young friends are playing at an abandoned convent when tragedy occurs. During normal, if not mean-spirited play, Robin backs out of a second story window as she’s taunted by the rest of the group. The kids decide that even though the death was an accident, they should clam up and never again speak of Robin’s unfortunate death. Despite their sudden pact, someone else is there that day, someone who sees everything. Queue DUN DUN DUN music.

I loved Prom Night when I was a kid. It’s a fun, creepy movie with an above average score, but how does it hold up? I still enjoy it for the sake of nostalgia, and I love the warm, grainy appeal of 35mm film, but the entry is not a true horror classic in my opinion. Remember, before you write nasty comments, the word “classic” refers to an agreed upon genre standard, not your 30-year-old memories of seeing it at a sleepover. There is plenty to like about Prom Night. Leslie Nielsen was great in his short role, as he often was when portraying a serious character. Paul Zaza’s ominous score makes the bland film a little spicier, otherwise, Prom Night might not have made it this far. The films marketing appeal and presentation was great, unfortunately, better than the film. With that, lets look at some of the movie’s air balls.

The exposition sucks. After the opening minutes of the kids, the next hour of the film is a boring, painful push though the first and second act. Filled with bloated character “development”, padded character traits do nothing for the already boring script. Subplots go nowhere, limp dick attempts at misdirection help even less, and there isn’t an ounce of tension or scares except for a weird string of creepy phone calls.

Suspense and mystery be damned, the movie doesn’t mind showing too much of the killer before the time is right. So much for mystery. What’s up with the world’s tiniest male killer ever? If some 5’5″ maniac floundered in my direction, I would seriously reconsider not kicking them in the balls. Stature isn’t everything in horror, but it is something. I found the kills uninspired, even more so with the tiny killer dressed in black street clothes.

Then there’s the disco. I think I speak for everyone when I say a non-ironic disco breakdown to the tune of premeditated murder might be one of the lamest horror segments of all time. I have to admit I feel a little guilty bashing Prom Night, just not mad enough to not click “publish”. Save your hate mail for the 2008 remake.

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About Fister Roboto (2231 Articles)
Just ring it up with the dong tea...

2 Comments on ‘Prom Night’ (1980) Does Death & Disco Hold Up 34 Years Later?

  1. I actually enjoyed it. Call me a nostalgia nut, but I loved the ending with disco music in the background. The first hour was kind of lame, I agree, but the lead up to the kills was pretty good. I’ll call it a “guilty pleasure”.

    • I know the feeling. I think every horror fan has a few guilty pleasures. I shouldn’t announce how many times I’ve seen Trick or Treat. Or Idle Hands.

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