Deep Cuts #6: Disco Prom

For some reason, I have never seen Prom Night. I bought a 4 pack of the Prom Night franchise on DVD a long time ago, and remember really loving Hello Mary Lou, Prom Night 2 when I saw it on TV many moons ago, so that was the only one I watched at the time. It was a little dark and blotchy and the pack just got dumped on my shelf to be forgotten. Then I got some gift cards from Amazon and picked up Synapse’s Blu-Ray of Prom Night and THAT copy sat on my shelf for over a year, doomed to be forgotten. But thanks to a YouTube channel that covers shooting locations for famous movies (malfuncsean – check it out), my interest was renewed.  

Which brings me to the present. A day off with a classic 80’s horror film. But will I get down and boogie with it? Or will I take my baby blue tux and walk out the door? 

First things first, it is so incredibly odd to see bowl legged Detective Frank Drebin in a serious role. Yes, I know he had a long career before Naked Gun and Airplane and all those terrible 90’s and 00’s spoof movies he appeared in. But it’s still jarring to my middle-aged brain. He just played them all so perfectly, it’s hard to take him seriously. 

Secondly, it’s always good to see Jamie Lee in her youth. She’s still got it, don’t get me wrong, but that’s because I’ve always been a MILF kind of guy. Here, I’m not too sure about her hair, it’s a little too retro, but I still enjoy her with a short ‘do over long ‘do. And she’s only 22 here, which is off putting considering she looks 30. 

Sidebar. I always have issues watching movies like this. It’s 43 years old. Any girl I think is attractive, is pushing 70 years old now or dead. Therefore, it’s awkward seeing her boobs knowing they’re all wrinkled and low hanging in the present. 

So, we have the standard kid dies by a terrible accident, and someone is going to exact some slasher goodness on the now teenagers who did the killing. It’s a typical bully revenge plot, one that probably was pretty original in 1980 when this came out. Director Paul Lynch didn’t make any other films of merit, but he did go on to a pretty successful TV career. Lynch purposefully kept minimal gore throughout the film until the distributor demanded they put the beheading in the finale. 

There are red herrings, of course, which include some sex offender, the weirdo gardener, and the uni-brow. Sidebar. Who the hell thought dude with the uni-brow was photogenic? At times, I feel like I Know What You Did Last Summer stole from the same source material as this movie. I have to remember that this film did it all FIRST. All the slasher films I know and love more than likely copied THIS film. Prom Night and Halloween made all of them possible. 

“It’s not who you go with, it’s who takes you home.”  

Eventually, all these “kids” (ignore the fact that a lot of them look in their late 20’s or early 30’s) go to the prom and get massacred. It takes a while to get there though, which means we get some suspense along the way, but we don’t have our first murder until a few minutes past the one-hour mark.  

Prom Night reminds me so much of Carrie. They’re both undoubtedly classics of the genre. Both are incredibly iconic and influential. But they haven’t aged well. The disco dancing. The crazy perms. The uni-brow. It’s kind of painful and embarrassing to be honest. AND THERE ARE EXTENDED SCENES OF THE DISCO DANCING!! They just go on and on! Is this Saturday Night Fever or a slasher film? JLC sure knows how to get down though.  

The movie is a little slow going. It’s very dated. The killer in a ski mask is a bit ho hum. The kills themselves are decent but lack gore. You get the after shot but no action shot. The killer reveal is underwhelming and somewhat confusing.

The standard slasher film troupes are present, albeit in their original form, which is fun to see their origins. JLC and Leslie Nielson are always a pleasure to watch. It also seems to have some giallo influences that are a pleasant welcome. There is a fun stalking scene with Wendy, but the other murders tend to just happen out of nowhere and very suddenly.  

All in all, a fine film. Definitely a classic. One I would recommend to slasher fans eager to see the humble beginnings of the genre. But not one I would necessarily watch again.  

5.0/10 Stab Wounds 


About RetRo(n) 21 Articles
I like the 80s, slasher films, Italian directors, Evil Ed, Trash and Nancy, Ripley and Private First Class Hudson, retro crap but not SyFy crap, old school skin, Freddy and Savini, Spinell and Coscarelli, Andre Toulon, and last, but not least, Linda Blair.