Prom Night is a pretty cut and dry slasher movie, clearly trying to play off the success of Halloween and use Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Neilson to draw an audience. With that said, there is still some merit to the movie, like the great deaths and the unbelievably cringy dance scene. The plot of it was pretty interesting but I feel like they didn’t have to include the prom at all. The prom had literally nothing to do with anything, it just served as a place for them all to end up at the end of the movie but it could’ve easily been a house party or even just at the school. It felt like they chose prom as the center piece in order to be a bit more like Halloween. In my opinion, I think I would’ve liked this movie better if it wasn’t trying so hard to live up to some image.
The characters were pretty good for a simple slasher. They had some depth and personality and weren’t boring to watch. Jamie Lee Curtis is as wonderful as ever in this movie, so if you’re a fan of hers I would recommend watching it. I love Leslie Neilson but I wouldn’t watch it just for him, if I were you, since he doesn’t have a ton of screen time. As I just said, the deaths are pretty inventive and are, at the very least, fun to watch. The movie does try to lead you in a dozen directions as to who the killer is, but if you stop and think about it for more than thirty seconds and if you were paying attention, you can put it together fairly easily. I think that’s actually why they try so hard with so many red herrings. Overall, I’d say that if you’re not a slasher fan then this one is worth skipping (unlike some others that are required watching for any horror fan). However, if you like slashers, Jamie Lee, and have 92 minutes of your life to spare, then check out Prom Night.
*spoilers from here*
As I said above, the plot of this movie is actually rather interesting. However, the story does leave pretty little room for any suspense as to the identity of the killer. Basically, what happens is these kids are playing a game like hide and go seek in an abandoned school or hospital type building. It ends up that one girl is left hiding and when the other kids find her, the four of them start antagonizing her, saying real creepy shit about killers. They end up backing her against a wall of windows and she falls out of one of them onto a pile of broken mirrors and other sharp things. (I think they did this to avoid having to find a particularly tall building, the building they shot at was maybe three stories tall so a fall from that height might not have killed the girl and that doesn’t fit with the story). The four children take a pact to never tell anyone what happened. One of them, a girl who is clearly the leader of the group, convinces the others that they’ll all go to jail if anyone were to find out they were there. The children run away and when the police come, they decide that it was most likely a man in the area who’s a known child molester.
The child molester (they never actually named the character) is found guilty of killing the girl and sent to jail. Several years later, the kids are all in high school and the child molester gets out of jail. The story from here mostly is about that same group of kids getting ready for prom. We are introduced to Jamie Lee Curtis’ character here; she’s the older sister of the girl who was killed in the beginning of the movie. She’s actually the same age as the other four teens in the group, conveniently enough, so they’re all getting ready to go to prom together and they’re all friends/enemies/frienemies. Lots of silly teen drama stuff happens during the middle of the movie. It’s the anniversary of the little girl’s death, so Jamie Lee and her younger brother and family are in mourning.
Not much else happens until people start dying. There’s a little drama with the police trying to find this child molester and discovering new things about his whereabouts. Leslie Neilson is the father of the little girl who died and is also the school principle or something similar. He gets involved with the investigation and kind of tries to do a revenge vendetta thing. He’s actually one of the film’s many red herrings.
Once they get to the prom things start to really pick up. First of all, we get this unbelievably terrible dance scene with Jamie Lee and her prom date. I don’t know how many of you went to prom or even to a high school dance, but no one – and I mean NO one – does a choreographed dance in the middle of it. Now I’m not saying that the dance was choreographed by the people making the movie (though obviously, it was) but I mean that in the movie the characters choreograph a dance together to do at the dance. Who does this?? I’m pretty sure everyone working on the movie had never actually been to a prom. Jamie Lee’s character creates this whole dance to show up the ex-girlfriend of her current boyfriend, who’s the same girl who convinced all the other kids not to tell the cops what happened. It’s some real high school drama. Secondly, the kills are really just excellent. The killer gets pretty inventive with his weapons. The final duel between Jamie Lee Curtis, her boyfriend, and the killer is pretty great as well. The whole ending of this movie is just simple, fun slasher stuff.
Like I said, if you like slashers then definitely check this one out. However, if you aren’t interested but still want to experience the awe and majesty that is the prom dance scene, here it is in all it’s three and a half minutes of glory: Prom Night (1980) Disco Dance