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October horror movie marathon: Prom Night

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Before you delve into this review, be sure to take a look at the rest of the Halloween marathon

Prom Night

October 25th, 1978. A day that would change horror movies forever: John Carpenter released his masterpiece Halloween. The birth of the slasher film. A few had come before it, but Halloween is where it truly came to life and was met with a wave of copycat movies soon after. Some of which blatantly copied the film but changed it enough to be their own and some who took the genre in new directions. Either way, the slasher movie was the talk of the town.

Not too long after Halloween, a small Canadian movie was released: Prom Night. It starred Jamie Lee Curtis of Halloween fame and may have been one of the first slashers to have used a big name at the time, most tending to create stars rather than use them.

The film opens in an abandoned high school, where four kids are seen playing a variation of hide and seek. When Robin and Alex walk by the school, Robin decides she’s going to join in, but Alex heads home. Once the other children begin to tease Robin for joining in without being asked, she falls out of a broken window to her death. The four children who pushed her to the incident promise never to reveal the secret to anyone. 

Six years later, on the anniversary of Robin’s death, her brother Alex (Michael Tough) and sister Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) are preparing for the school prom that very evening. 

When the bodies start dropping, it’s revealed that a paedophile had been framed for Robin’s death and was arrested on sexual assault/murder charges. If the framing wasn’t bad enough, the perpetrator ended up with nasty burns all over his body due to his car catching fire – a pretty interesting backstory for why the killer is killing in the first place.

It’s a good idea that could have given the movie a pretty cool edge, along with a few other things: the school principal (Leslie Neilson) being Alex and Kim’s father could have added an interesting dynamic and the accidental killers of Robin associating with/around Alex and Kim could have led to some extremely intense scenes. 

Prom Night goes down the typical high school cliques route for the majority of the movie. More Mean Girls than Halloween. There still could have been a way for the director to make this blend to work, but the movie simply doesn’t have the charisma or good writing. 

Prom Night does have some good things going on –  a spontaneous dance scene reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever comes to mind, as does the film’s disco soundtrack. But it isn’t enough to push past the boredom that clouds over the film for its first hour of runtime, leaving it to be nothing but wasted potential.

Rating = 3/5 flicks

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