Friday, October 2, 2009

HORROR EPICS: Prom Night (1980)

I’ve known about this Canadian slasher for a good while, but never got around to seeing it until a sealed VHS copy somehow materialized in my own apartment. Not sure how that happened, which is sort of creepy. But I guess the Horror Film Gods decided that it was imperative that I own a copy of Prom Night so I could bring it to you, my lucky readers. Since I didn’t actually go to my high school prom, you’d better believe that I’m down to watch a movie that’s supposed to be about one gone horribly wrong. And it does exactly that, although like a lot of older horror movies, it takes its sweet-ass time to get there. Do you thirtysomethings remember an old hide-and-seek game called “The Killer is Coming”? I sure do, and Prom Night starts out with a group of asshole little kids playing the game in what appears to be an old, abandoned school building. When a younger girl wanders into the building, the rest of the kids team up and chase her through the halls. Scaring the shit out of the poor girl with talk of the killer coming, these obnoxious brats chase her to the end of the hallway and through a broken window. If plummeting to the ground wasn’t enough to kill young Robin Hammond, being crushed by the broken window frame certainly did the job. The kids vow to keep the accident a secret, promising that no one would ever know what happened. Little do they know that there was a witness to the whole thing. There is ALWAYS a witness, even when the premises are abandoned. Six years later, our obnoxious little villains are high school seniors, maturing into the kind of rich preppy teenagers that you would love to see on the business end of an axe. You know the type. You harbored fantasies of their premature deaths too. With the secret still kept intact, most of them are actually good friends with Robin’s older sister Kim, played by a young Jamie Lee Curtis. And it just so happens that one of them is even DATING the oblivious broad! You read that right: not only did he cause a little girl’s death, but the no-good sonofabitch is trying to get some trim from her sister years after the fact. Man, the audacity of some people, I tell ya. The funny thing is that Kim could probably handle the truth. After all, she can tolerate the school sleazeball hitting on her relentlessly. Kim can even deal with her boyfriend’s flirting with his slutty ex-girlfriend (who was responsible for Robin’s death as well). Who’s to say that Kim couldn’t also deal with her boyfriend’s past as a pre-teen murderer? The most important day in any teenage preppy fuckhead’s life is coming up shortly, and our happy couple-with-a-secret has already been picked to be the prom king and queen. But a couple people have their own ideas for a memorable occasion. One is the slutty ex-girlfriend, whose plans to ruin Kim’s good time and get her boyfriend back aren’t made abundantly clear. The other is Robin’s witness, a raspy-voiced psycho out to make Kim’s friends pay with their blood. Which plan do you think comes to fruition first? Sounds good, but the problem is that Prom Night is one of a number of older horror flicks that doesn’t age particularly well. And I happen to like a lot of these older low-budget movies. Jamie Lee is always a cutie pie and Leslie Nielsen’s presence is always welcome. Things like the music score and a girl’s facial reaction to getting her throat slit also kept Prom Night going for me. But after a decent buildup to the brutality, it often doesn’t pay off in a particularly memorable fashion. And what’s with the overly long dance scene with Jamie Lee and her boyfriend? It’s 1980, and the “Disco sucks” battle cry is lost on this crowd. Bring on the dead teenagers already. I suppose if you’re a horror film aficionado in the making, you might as well add Prom Night to the list and get it out of the way. The rest of you should probably just wait until tomorrow for dead teenagers at the prom. Not planning on checking out the sequels Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, or Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil either. And to think that if I still had NetFlix, I actually would’ve rented the remake and reviewed them both as a double feature.

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