When one thinks of scream queens, one usually finds themselves at some point, thinking of Jamie Lee Curtis. How could you not? She set the bar for many women to follow with one of the most iconic performances of all time in Halloween. Not only that, she would follow it up with a role in The Fog as well as a few more horror slashers, most of them Halloween sequels, as well as this one, Prom Night. Perhaps during those first few years as she was breaking into Hollywood, especially with that breakout role in Halloween, she knew where her bread was buttered and just wanted to ride the gravy train a little longer before she branched out into roles that required a little less screaming and the absence of blood. Whatever the case might have been, she would star in another little slasher film about some kids going to prom and a murderous killer out to give some of them not only a lasting memory, but a final one.
While the movie is usually looked upon fondly by many, and most of those by fans of the genre, Prom Night is not the best slasher that has ever been released. Even as the pace of the film is extremely measured, there are in fact times when it gets just a little bit boring. Near the end of the movie when the various cast members start to get killed off, it does tend to move along a little more briskly, but the buildup to that took a long time in the coming. It is not to say that the film was bad though, it simply could have shaved a few minutes off here and there and maybe made things a little bit more exciting to gauge the viewer’s interest. Paul Lynch who directed the film, did a fine job of it and he managed to create a nice, slow suspense throughout the film as the magical night got closer, but it just seemed that at times, it was a little too slow.
Offsetting this was the cast which included the aforementioned Jamie Lee Curtis as well as Casey Stevens, Eddie Benton, Michael Tough, Pita Oliver and more. There was also a strangely out of place Leslie Nielson. Before Nielson was ever known for his comedic roles, he was a dramatic actor, but even so, to see him in a horror film of all things was just a little strange, a good strange because it was so surprising, but strange nonetheless. Working from a script by William Gray and Robert Guza, Jr. which would be one of the better things to come of the movie, Neilson and the rest of the cast would do quite a good job with it even though some of the characters would be a little cliché. It is interesting to note to that while this was a horror film, most of the people were fairly happy-go-lucky types, even sickly-sweet at times. The worst offender was Curtis’s character and that of her family. It could have been chalked up to the loss of her sister when she was young in the film, which is the whole instigating factor for the killer to be going around and butchering various students, or for the fact that Kim, the character Curtis plays, has never had a real boyfriend and everyone is so happy for her. More than likely it was a combination of both, and it paints a picture of a family that you do not really see anymore. What it ultimately ends up doing is portraying the conflicting aspects of the film, those of nicety against the horrific acts, quite expertly.
The funny thing about this movie, was that even though it was successful and would go on to generate three sequels, those sequels would have nothing to do with this picture or anyone in it, merely keeping the setting of the film and the title of the movie. The film does feel dated of course, with all of the crazy hair and the disco-dancing and whatnot, but do not let that deter you from watching a classic of the genre, even despite the slow pace. At least watch it for Jamie Lee. If you liked her in Halloween or in anything really, you should at least watch this to check out one of her earliest roles. At the end of the day, it might not have been the best film, but it was a good one.
3 out of 5