Prom Night (1980)

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A group of high school seniors are about to experience an unforgettable night in this Canadian-made slasher film.

In 1974, a group of kids are playing a game of hide-and-seek with a crazy twist in an abandoned building. When young Robin Hammond joins in on the game, the group of kids begin to taunt Robin and back her into a window. However, Robin ends up falling to her death as the result of being scared. The other kids, who are Jude, Nick, Wendy, and Kelly, vow never to mention the incident again and Robin’s death is blamed on a pedophile.

Flash forward six years later. Robin’s fraternal twin Alex and older sister Kim are preparing for prom night after attending a memorial on the anniversary of Robin’s passing. Kim is dating Nick while Wendy, Jude, and Kelly are all preparing for prom night. Wendy, still embittered over the fact that Nick has dumped her for Kim, plans to cause trouble at the prom. However, this all will begin the least of everyone’s problems as a mysterious masked figure is in town and begins to go after the teenagers. Will they be able to survive this night?

In what can be said to be apparent to continue her streak as a scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, fresh off her groundbreaking performance in 1978’s Halloween, returns with an underrated horror film. While she is not involved in the film’s opening, the catalyst of what is to transpire, Curtis once again brings on both the screams and acting chops as Kim, the older sister of the young girl killed in the opening as the result of a freak accident. The second connection involves the fact her character is dating one of the kids who accidentally caused said death.

Slightly before making the transition from drama to comedy, Leslie Nielsen makes the most of his screen time as the father of Curtis’ character and siblings. The supporting cast, notably those of the elder versions of the accidental perpetrators do quite well either being victimized or showing a sense of keeping secrets, bringing more of the dramatic tension before the inevitable is set to occur. Of course, the film had the potential to bring some more “scream queens” into the mix but it is clear that the film truly belongs to Jamie Lee Curtis, whose character makes the most of what to look forward to despite still having a sense of sorrow for the death of her sister.

The killer, who of course isn’t revealed until the end, is quite interesting in which it starts out by calling those who plans to kill until at the right moments, in the case of all slasher films, strikes. The special effects are pretty interesting and with the exception of a decapitation, aren’t as graphic as expected but do make quite an impact. If you think Carrie’s famous prom scene is interesting, this film melds the disco beats of perhaps Saturday Night Fever with the inevitable of everyone running for their lives when said decapitation has the victim’s head rolling on the stage for everyone to see.

Prom Night truly helps solidify Jamie Lee Curtis’ legendary status as one of the original “scream queens” along with Halloween. Some nice twists in the story all make this an underrated slasher film.

WFG RATING: B+

Avco Embassy Films presents a Simcom Limited in association with the Guardian Trust Company. Director: Paul Lynch. Producer: Peter R. Simpson. Writer: William Gray; story by Robert Guza Jr. Cinematography: Robert C. New. Editing: Brian Ravok.

Cast: Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens, Anne-Marie Martin, Antoinette Bower, Michael Tough, Robert Silverman, Pita Oliver, David Mucci, Jeff Wincott, Mary Beth Rubens, Joy Thompson, Tammy Bourne, Sheldon Rybowski, Rob Garrison.

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