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Prom Night

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PROM NIGHT opens in 1974 at an abandoned convent, where four young kids, Nick, Wendy, Jude and Kelly, are playing "Killer," a version of hide-and-seek.

When a younger girl, Robin, wanders in to see what the older kids are doing, they turn on the girl. Trying to run away as they scream "Killers Are Coming!," Robin finds herself trapped. She leans back and falls out of a window to her death. The kids are terrified, but Wendy, the meanest of the group, makes everybody swear to never, ever tell. They all promise to never tell, afraid of going to jail. They ride off on their bicycles just as a window falls from the building and smashes down on Robin's lifeless body.

It is now 1980, the six-year anniversary of Robin's death. The audience is introduced to her family as they visit her in the cemetery: Mr. Hammond (Leslie Nielsen), the principal of Hamilton High; Mrs. Hammond (Antoinette Bower), emotionally drained; and Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Alex (Michael Tough), her siblings. It just so happens that The Hamilton High Senior Prom is later in the evening, where Kim has been named Prom Queen and Alex is running the DJ booth.

The four teens responsible for Robin's death are all grown-up now and they all receive menacing phone calls before leaving for school in the morning. A creepy, hissing voice that asks "Do you still like to play games?" and warns "I'll see you at the prom." Wendy (Eddie Benton) is gorgeous and wealthy, driving a slick orange corvette. She's mad because Nick (Casey Stevens) broke up with her and is now going to the prom with Kim. To ruin Kim's night, Wendy decides to go to the dance with Lou (David Mucci), the school trouble-maker, where they plan on an elaborate prank during the crowning. Nick is Prom King and of the group, he feels most guilty about Robin's death, especially since he is dating her sister. However, he can't bring himself to tell her. Kelly (Mary Beth Rubens) is nervous about the prom because her jock boyfriend Drew (Jeff Wincott) wants her to "go all the way" and she's having second thoughts. Jude (Joy Thompson) is dateless at first but asked to go by the nerdy Slick (Sheldon Rybowski) and she excitedly accepts.

At Hamilton High that day, there's teen drama aplenty. While in the gymnasium practicing her disco dancing, Kim has a confrontation with Wendy, who tells her: "It's not who you go with, honey. It's who takes you home." Lou harasses Kim in the cafeteria, resulting in a fist fight between Alex and Lou. Kelly and Kim are in the locker room when somebody shatters a mirror and the girls are scared when they notice that whoever did it took a long shard of glass with them. Then, the guilty teens all find yearbook pictures of themselves with tiny pieces of broken glass attached to them. You'd think they'd put two and two together, but if they did, there would be no movie. Somebody obviously knows they are responsible for Robin's death and they're planning on revenge at The Prom.

The theme of The Prom is "Disco Madness," giving Kim and Nick the chance to show off their bravura dance routine. However, lurking in the shadowy corridors of the school is a killer, dressed in black and wearing a ski mask. Wielding a shard of glass and a lethal axe, the killer waits in the darkness until his intended victims wander off alone. As the prom continues, throats are slashed and faces are axed. Soon, it is time for the crowning of the King and Queen and without giving too much away, somebody loses their head! In the frenzied climax, Kim finds herself fighting off the killer in order to save Nick.

PROM NIGHT was very successful upon it's release in 1980, as the teen horror genre was becoming very lucrative thanks to the success of films like HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH. However, unlike many of it's ilk, PROM NIGHT succeeds in that it also has an actual story and motivation for the killer. It takes it's time in building it's characters so that the audience identifies with them and sympathizes with them before the mayhem begins. Even though these teens did a bad thing as tykes, you still don't want to see them get murdered. The finale where the killer is mortally wounded and revealed is effective and even poignant for this type of movie.

Verdict?

I would like to give PROM NIGHT a 10 since it's my all-time favorite film of any decade and any genre. Lots of similar movies don't have solid characters, they are just simply introduced to be murdered and have no personalities. With PROM NIGHT, the characters are built nicely and you really care about what happens to them.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: The performances are first-rate, especially Jamie Lee Curtis as the ever-plucky Kim and the gorgeous Eddie Benton as the bitchy Wendy.

Weaknesses? The major flaw that bothers me concerns a sequence where the killer is pursuing a victim through out the halls and classrooms of the school. The intended victim runs upstairs where the killer follows her. She manages to elude her stalker and runs back downstairs. This would give her the opportunity to run back to the gymnasium for help. Instead, she seeks refuge in the school auto shop!

Our rating: 9.3 out of 10


Review Written by Dave Grubka:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Dave Grubka
Prom Night