Thursday, 21 July 2011

Prom Night [1980]

PROM NIGHT is a Canadian slasher film that was directed by Paul Lynch and originally released in July 1980.  It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Casey Stevens and Anne-Marie Martin with supporting turns from Robert A. Silverman and Jeff Wincott.  With a plot that will surprise absolutely nobody who has even a passing interest in horror films, a bunch of students trying to organise the prom night dance are terrorised by a masked killer.



This, like the previously reviewed HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, is an example of a big budget sensibility being applied to an essentially low budget genre.  All the usual elements are there: flashback pre-credits sequence (alhtough this one actually extends through the credits and out the other side); necking; dancing; shagging; and stabbing.

In the opening flashback we witness the accident that will provoke all the future mayhem...

...of which this is one example.



Sadly, apart from one brief sequence this is a remarkably bloodless and curiously uninvolving slasher which plays out like GREASE [1978] without the songs.  There's too much high school mucking about and not much fright or suspense to make this work as a slasher should.  Even the big reveal, when it finally comes, provokes not much more than a 'meh' and a puzzled scratch of the head as you try to figure how the killer managed to be in several places at once.

Believe it or not, these two stills are from the final showdown...

...that's the killer on the left and Jamie Lee Curtis on the right.


In the end it's worthy of attention chiefly for the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, playing a variant on her HALLOWEEN persona, and the late Leslie Nielsen who as a comic actor was so good that you can't now take his straight roles seriously.  Of minor interest are Anne-Marie Martin about whom you can read more in my review of THE BOOGENS here, Robert A. Silverman about whom you can read more in my review of SCANNERS here, and Jeff Wincott older brother of the marginally more famous Michael.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Kim

Leslie Nielsen as Principal Hammond


Director Paul Lynch is an Englishman who crossed the Atlantic for opportunities in the film business and found them, largely in genre pictures and TV.  Several of his films, including this one, were made in collaboration with the script writer William Gray.  The composer was Paul Zaza who also provided the score for several Canadian pictures including the interesting Sherlock Holmes / Jack the Ripper film MURDER BY DECREE [1978], the coming of age sex comedy PORKY'S [1982], both directed by Bob Clark incidentally, and the excellent slasher MY BLOODY VALENTINE about which you can read, you guessed it, here.  The cinematographer was Robert New and I must say his photography is extremely fuzzy, as if shot through gauze.  I may be doing him a disservice by having only seen a ropey print but the lack of sharpness is alarming.

Anne-Marie Martin as Wendy Richards (no, not that one)

Robert A. Silverman as Sykes
On the left, Jeff Wincott as Drew


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