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Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 146: Prom Night

Prom Night
Does that mean the limo costs extra?

It's prom season across the country and high schoolers everywhere are spending too much money on fancy clothes and stretch Hummers. What recession? Despite my cynicism and general hatred of most things, I went to my high school's prom and actually had a good time. Go figure. What better way to celebrate girls wearing inappropriate dresses and guys wearing lime green tuxedos with matching fedoras than with a horror movie?

Prom Night is a 1980 cult classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Trading Places) as Kim Hammond. When she was eleven, Kim's younger sister Robin fell to her death after being taunted by classmates Wendy, Jude, Kelly, and Nick. All four swore not to tell anyone what had happened. Police blamed her death on a known sexual predator and pursued him until he crashed his car. He was badly burned and institutionalized. Six years later, Kim is now dating Nick, much to the dismay of Kelly. Prom season is upon them, with Kim and Nick being crowned king and queen. Wendy, Jude, Kelly all receiving mysterious threatening phone calls. Kim is harassed by a meathead named Lou who gets into a fight with Kim's brother, Alex. The school's principal and Kim and Alex's father, Mr. Hammond (Leslie Nielsen, The Naked Gun, Creepshow), suspends Lou. Kelly, still hurting from being rejected by Nick hatches a plan with Lou to get back at Kim. The threats continue, but the girls ignore them and attend prom night. There, a masked figure goes about brutally killing each of the girls while Lou and his cronies tie up Nick and takes his place as prom king. The killer walks up behind him and chops his head off, sending it down a runway. Who is the killer and what will happen to Kim and Nick?

Kids are assholes

Despite occasionally receiving the “classic” title attached to it, Prom Night is anything but. It's a mixed-up late 70's throwback with a confused story and very little horror to speak of. The main character in the movie is presented as Kim Hammond, but it's not really clear why. We know she isn't the killer early on, so why make her the focus of most of the movie? It's not like the killer is going after her because he's clearly going after the people who killed Robin. If anything, more time should have been given to Wendy, Jude, Kelly, and Nick. The movie strings the audience for far too long, trying to misdirect everyone into thinking who the killer might actually be. That's fine and makes for a fun little mystery, but it takes up most of the movie. The killing doesn't start until the last 25 minutes or so. The movie was only an hour and half long, but felt like it was closer to two and half hours. Another major problem was that the movie was incredibly dark. The version I watched was on DVD, but it had not been remastered and looked to be a direct copy from a VHS version. It's kind of like when you listen to a CD from the early 90's that was transferred from a record. A lot of the detail in the movie is missed simply because you can't see anything. Despite being in the dark, you should still be able to see what the hell is happening. There is some blood and violence, but not enough for a slasher flick.

The acting is decent throughout with Jamie Lee Curtis unsurprisingly putting in the best performance. It was nice to see Leslie Nielsen in a serious role, but he wasn't in it enough. The movie is deeply entrenched in the 70's, down to the hideous furniture, feathered hair, and leisure suits. The real horror in Prom Night comes in the form of the prom's theme: Disco Madness. That's like watching a horror movie 30 years from now where Dubstep is the theme. My senses were assaulted with terrible disco music and a light up dance floor. The cherry on this shit sundae was an unnecessary disco dance scene with Jamie Lee Curtis. She's got moves, don't get me wrong, but it served absolutely no purpose and comes across as unintentionally funny through 2012 eyes. 

 What a pointless decade

Prom Night doesn't hold up to the test of time like some other horror movies do. The story is particularly weak and entrenched in 70's culture. The acting is decent and there are some creative camera shots and direction. It might have been the copy I watched, but the movie is incredibly dark and a the action, where there isn't a whole lot of, is missed. For a slasher movie, there isn't nearly enough violence and blood. The ending is pretty predictable and disappointing. The movie is worth watching just to catch a strange glimpse into the past and watch a young Jamie Lee Curtis, but beyond that, Prom Night isn't anything special.


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