Monday, May 15, 2006

Prom Night (1980)

I caught Scream on TV last weekend and was inspired to watch some classic slashers that I had never seen before.

One of these is Prom Night, an 80s slasher flick that stars Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis. It begins with four kids bullying a young girl in an abandoned building until she falls to her death. The four children vow to never speak of the incident again and just walk away...only, someone saw them do it and is out for revenge.

Fast forward six years, and those same kids are all seniors in high school. Jude, Nick, Wendy and Kelly are joined by Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Alex, who are the siblings of Robin, the girl that was killed. Nick and Kim are to be Prom King and Queen, while Jude and Kelly are Kim's friends. Wendy is the queen bitch of the school and is trying to woo Nick back.

The date of the prom coincides with Robin's death. That morning, Jude, Nick, Wendy and Kelly all receive creepy phone calls asking them to "come out and play." None of them take it seriously, but we see the shadowy killer sitting by the phone, crossing off each of their names after each call. We learn from the police that the man that was arrested for Robin's death has escaped from a mental institution. He was a child molester and the #1 suspect in Robin's case. When the police attempted to arrest him, he led them on a chase that resulted in a fiery crash. He was horribly disfigured and spent the next six years in a mental hospital.

Now it appears he is out for revenge on the four kids he blames for his incarceration and disfigurement...and the killer is planning to strike on prom night!

Kim and Alex's father (played by Leslie Nielsen!) is the principal of their high school, and it seems like he and their mother have never really recovered from Robin's death. The mother appears highly unstable, misplacing items, lingering a long time at her daughter's grave, getting overly excited...could she be the creepy caller?

At school, it seems Kim has issues with sleazeball loser Lou. He keeps harassing her, even attacking Kim in the cafeteria while wearing a ski mask. Alex steps in to defend his sister and does a pretty good job against Lou's goons and Lou himself. Alex is a pretty scrawny kid, so it's a bit unsettling to watch him take out three guys much bigger than himself. Lou is suspended because of his disgracefulness, but that doesn't stop Wendy from hatching a plan with him to ruin the prom.

Wendy is really pissed at Kim, who is the coolest girl in school. Wendy confronts her while Kim works on her sweet disco moves in the prom-decorated gym. Wendy tells Kim that after prom, it's over for her and Nick and that everything will go back to normal. Notice this exchange between the two:

Kim: You seem a little anxious, Wendy. By the way, who are you going with tonight?
Wendy: It's not who you go with, honey. It's who takes you home.


It turns out Wendy does have a date, with none other than our dear sweet Lou who shows up in his rusty car, alcoholic beverage in hand and two of his goons in the backseat. Kim and Nick are already boogeying the night away with Jude and her "It's Pat!" lookalike date and Kelly and her overly-libidous boyfriend.

Kelly and date sneak off to a supply closet, as she's decided to lose her virginity. She discovers it's simply not that easy and stops her date. He storms off to find someone else to get jiggy with it, and she's left all alone...well, not quite. The killer joins her and slits her throat. The killer then finds Jude with her date, who I like to call Pat. Pat and Jude are parked in his van on the edge of the bluffs. Jude is killed first, while Pat is just with the wrong girl at the wrong time. He tries to drive away, but the killer causes him to drive right off the cliffs.

Soon after, Wendy is attacked by the ski mask wearing killer. She manages to escape and runs all through the school, finding more and more locked doors...she gets farther and farther from the dance and finally gets put out of her stupidity with an axe.

Back at the dance, Kim and Nick await their crowning as Prom King and Queen. Wendy is missing, but Lou tells his goons to go ahead with the plan to ruin prom. When Nick and Kim are backstage, the goons attack them and tie them up. Lou stands in for Nick as Prom King. While he waits for the curtains to open, the killer, thinking Lou is Nick, sneaks up on him with his head! Lou's head rolls out into the spotlight and the prom-goers panic. Kim rushes over to Nick to help him, but as they both try to escape the killer blocks their path. A scuffle occurs, as cheesy disco music plays in the background. Kim finally hits the killer in the head with his own axe, only to realize that the killer is...well, you'll just have to watch to find out!

This movie was made in 1980, and looks like it could have been made for TV. It doesn't show any gore and the film quality is pretty poor. There is a good close-up shot of the phone the killer uses to place the first calls, but the rest of the shots are pretty rudimentary, as if from a first-time filmmaker.

Beside the poor quality, it was an ok slasher. It's one redeeming quality was Jamie Lee Curtis, who (as usual) gives a great performance. She's the carefree, popular and independent girl everyone wishes they were in high school. I loved her character, especially when she had to confront Wendy over and over again.

Prom Night didn't leave me too impressed, but it's worth a looksie for its cult status and cheesiness.

Order it on Amazon!

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