Prom Night (1980)

promnightcover0220 horror movies for $5; what could possibly go wrong?  Part II.

This movie was one of the reasons I bought this set.  Not that I had any love for it, but I had at least heard of this title; and of course Jamie Lee Curtis gave it some gravitas.

Like every horror movie made in the 80s, this one starts in the 70s.  A pack of brats is bullying one of their schoolmates, Robin, in an abandoned school.  What starts as a hide & seek game devolves into them chasing her yelling, “kill, kill!” like those punks on Triacus.  As always, it’s fun and games until someone puts an eye out.  In this case, the eye and the rest of the body are put out of a 2nd story window.  The kids, wise beyond their years, react just like adults — by fleeing the scene and not telling anyone.

At this point, we can already predict who the killer is going to be, even though he was barely seen.  Of course Alex, the brother of the dead girl, can be expected to have a motive.  But when you are trying to predict who is going to grow up to be the serial killer, a stronger indicator might be the kid who dresses like his sister.  promnightstripes02Cut to 6 years later.  A mysterious caller — OK, it’s Alex —  starts calling the posse from 6 years ago.  But we still have to go through the usual suspects:

  • The groundskeeper – Why are groundskeepers always the first red herring?  The sharp implements?  If this took place today, we would know it isn’t the groundskeeper because the killer speaks English.
  • The Child Molester – Leonard Murch is only seen in bandages, and doesn’t even get a screen credit.  Despite the Lieutenant going all Sam Loomis, he is a no-go; the Screen Actors Guild would never allow it.
  • Lou, the boorish 25-year old high school student in the black ski mask?  Ninja, please!

Finally at the 1 hour mark, we get another kill.  As I am a firm believer in Survival of the Cutest, it is disappointing that it is Mary Beth Rubens.  It takes a mere 7 minutes to get the next kill, so we’re off!  We get a fun pursuit in a van (leading to a great fiery crash), and another good chase with an axe.

Clearly being Advanced Placement students, these prom-goers deduce there might be a problem after seeing a decapitated head on the dance floor.  As usual, JLC comes through, and unmasks the killer.  Surprise, it is Alex!

It was never boring, but the pressure was really on the last 30 minutes to redeem the first 60 minutes.  Overall, it worked for me.  On the Pass / Fail scale: Pass.

Post-Post Leftovers:

  • Released the same year Leslie Nielsen starred in Airplane; and in between Jamie Lee Curtis’ 2 Halloweens.
  • Michelle Scarabelli is here somewhere uncredited.  Sadly I did not see her.
  • Screenwriter William Gray wrote the classic The Changeling starring George C. Scott, also released in 1980.
  • I was stumped as to whether the van crash was an excellent model or a fake looking real van.  No matter, it was a great crash, great shot and great fireball.
  • Actually the opening is pretty effective as the kids really do seem menacing, and the old building is used well.
  • Its sequel title Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou is right up there with Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  Who is naming these things, Jesse Jackson?  Sadly, I know of no rhyming 3rd installments.  Star Wars III: Return of the Jediii?, Back to the Future III: Cowboy Marty?, Godfather III: WTF Sofi . . . uh?
  • Really, this is all we get for our R-rated 90 minute investment?promnightshower01


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