Prom Night

PROM NIGHT is one of the early slasher cash-ins. It has a 2008 remake, though, so it’s a classic. It kind of seems like there’s not alot going on, because the body count is pretty low and the killings don’t start until 2/3 of the way in and there’s a surprisingly long uninterrupted disco dancing scene. But at the same time there’s a couple movies’ worth of things going on.

1. There’s the whole HALLOWEEN plot. A killer (also child molester) has been locked up (and burned up) and now it’s the anniversary of the murder of a little girl and he’s escaped and kidnapped a nurse and the police are trying to find him and I hope he doesn’t come after Jamie Lee Curtis (this time playing prom queen Kim, whose little sister was the murder victim).

2. Also there’s the CARRIE plot. A mean popular girl named Wendy (Eddie Benton, DR. STRANGE, HALLOWEEN II, Sledge Hammer!, married Michael Crichton and co-wrote TWISTER with him) is jealous of Kim getting to go to the prom with her ex-boyfriend Nick (Casey Stevens, THRESHOLD) so she gets a thuggish gum-chewing neanderthal lookin guy named Lou (David Mucci, “Quick Mike” in UNFORGIVEN) to help her with a cruel prank planned to take place when the king and queen are being crowned.

3. But more importantly the escaped lunatic mentioned in #1 was innocent of this particular crime and we know it because the prologue showed how a group of little kids playing a creepy variation on tag cornered the poor girl and she fell out a window and they vowed never to tell anyone but now someone is making BLACK CHRISTMAS style creepy calls to them and crossing their names off a list.

So one weird thing is that Kim seems to be the lead, and yet she never seems to be in danger because the killer is going after the kids who got her sister killed and got the child molester blamed for it. There’s no reason to go after her. Incidentally her dad (Leslie Nielsen, SOUL MAN) is the principal. He seems like a good suspect because he has motive and he disappears at convenient times and he confiscated a shiny ski mask just like the killer’s from a student and he’s seen chopping wood with an ax. But wait a minute what about this groundskeeper Sykes (Robert Silverman, RABID, THE BROOD, SCANNERS, NAKED LUNCH, WATERWORLD, EXISTENZ, JASON X)? I mean the kids all think he’s creepy and a pervert and a girl moons him and he stands there looking horny why aren’t we arresting this guy?

Oh yeah, because we’re not dumb, he’s an even more obvious red herring the the dad, and Paul L. Smith plays basically the same character in PIECES and that guy didn’t do it either.

Since nobody takes the phone calls seriously nobody actually knows to be scared until pretty much right before they’re attacked by a man in a ski mask who usually has an ax. So for the most part the movie is about trying to get prom dates and preparing for the prom and stuff. Actually there’s less effort put into preparations than there is in CARRIE, but Kim has to go to a run through for her coronation and Kelly Lynch (not the co-star of ROAD HOUSE, but the fictional character played by Mary Beth Rubens [FIREBIRD 2015 AD]) is nervous because she’s a virgin but her boyfriend Drew keeps pressuring her to have sex and she’s thinking of “letting him,” which is very romantic. I would never have recognized him, but Drew is played by future DTV king Jeff Wincott (MARTIAL LAW 2, MISSION OF JUSTICE).

This is a Canadian film, filmed in Toronto with a mostly Canadian cast and crew, but I think it’s supposed to take place in the U.S. since they go to Alexander Hamilton High School. I don’t think Canadians would name a high school after our famous rappin’ treasurer.

It’s kind of funny (and probly accurate) that four years after “Disco Duck,” three years after SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and Meco’s Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk album and a year after “Disco Demolition Night,” Alexander Hamilton High School has “Disco Madness” as their prom theme. Kim and Nick are mad that Wendy and Lou show up at the prom and give them the stink eye so they decide to “show them” by performing a Travolta-esque disco routine in the middle of the floor. Director Paul Lynch’s sister Pamela Malcolm choreographed the scene which has Curtis (and to a lesser extent Stevens) earnestly doing pretty fancy moves. The dancing scenes were shot with popular disco songs that Lynch was angry to discover he couldn’t afford. Composer Paul Zaza (MY BLOODY VALENTINE, PORKY’S, THE VINDICATOR) says he had “Less than a week to create six disco songs as good as these hits,” and presumably with the same BPMs. He imitated the original songs closely enough that they got sued.

This is of course one of those proms where there are numerous dark and quiet places in and around the school where kids can sneak off to have sex and/or get murdered without anybody else noticing.

One such sequence was impressive to me in an unusal way. It’s about as cliched as you could possibly make it: they’re having sex in a sex van, they’re smoking joints, he has to take a piss, he hears a twig snap, his glasses are broken so he can’t see who’s there. But the two characters are so unexpectedly dorky that I got to like them and not want them to get killed. Jude (Joy Thompson, SKULLDUGGERY) and Seymour (Sheldon Rybowski, SPRING FEVER) just met this morning when she was walking to work and he drove his Don Juan van up on the sidewalk to offer her a ride, which made her laugh. He’s a little comically nerdy dude who claims that people call him “Slick.” They’re trying to act cool but admit they were both virgins until now and they are just very excited about this having sex thing. It’s cute. It’s a bummer when she says “I’ll remember this night for the rest of my life,” because you know what that means.

Seymour was not on the death list, but I guess witnesses gotta go too. I have mixed feelings about how he goes out while driving his van. On the negative side, he does that ridiculous movie thing where you’re driving and suddenly realize you’re about to crash and instead of yanking on the wheel you let go and put your arms in front of your face in terror. And it makes even less sense than usual because they’ve gone out of their way to establish that he can’t see without his glasses.

On the other hand he puts up a respectable fight, punching the killer hard in the face, then blindly driving around doing donuts and trying to back over him and shit. Earlier there were multiple mentions of not falling off “the bluff,” so it’s fair game when suddenly there’s a cliff to drive off. Most importantly the van is such an important part of his identity and what turned out to be his life’s work of getting laid one time that it makes sense for the captain to go down with the ship. (I’m not sure if he’s the captain or the ship.)

Wendy, although kind of the bad guy, is the one who gets the most extensive chase. It’s pretty well executed, but I’d like to register one complaint. She’s chased through the gym and runs past two trampolines and what the fuck kind of loser is this killer that he jumps over the small trampoline? Doesn’t he know how awesome it would be if he did a trampoline jump during a chase?

I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that when the killer is unmasked it’s kind of a sad story and you have some sympathy. Luckily his tragic situation doesn’t stop him from having a flair for the dramatic in his psychopathic rampage. I’m thinking specifically of how he waits for the whole school to be gathered for the coronation to lop off a character’s head backstage in such a way that it flies out onto the ramp. I enjoyed the shot with the back of the severed head sitting in the foreground as if watching while all the prom-goers scream and run away.

Curtis is good enough to elevate the movie, and it’s nice that she plays a character completely unlike Laurie Strode. Laurie is tough and resolute in the face of danger but socially she’s shy and awkward and afraid to ask out a boy (who gets run over by cops in part 2). Kim wears cool clothes and fights for her man and has the balls to do a fucking unsolicited disco number in front of the whole school (although she’s embarrassed when Wendy sees her doing moves when she thinks she’s alone in the gym).

Actually this is kinda good. I don’t rank it high, especially in the originality department, but after you’ve tried out enough of the truly shitty ones you gotta respect the ones that are well constructed and have good performances and decent production value and music and stuff. And I kinda like disco.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 at 11:32 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

39 Responses to “Prom Night”

  1. I like the early 80s slasher cash in. I think The Prowler is a great movie, for example. If there is one thing that makes me sad about the great 80s All Over podcast is how much they generally hate them. Scott Weinberg, the professed horror expert, rarely says anything good about any horror film in the early 1980s (they’re up to July of 1983).

    Vern, are you going to do a review of the Prom Night remake? That might be one of the single worst movie experiences of my entire life when I watched it last year. I hate that movie so much.

  2. I hope you will review the sequels too at some point, although only because one of the stars of part 4 once told a hilarious story about a stunt gone wrong, that I can’t wait to share.

  3. This might be my least favorite entry in the first round of HALLOWEEN knockoffs. It takes forever to get going, it’s got the unmistakable scent of an old fuddy duddy trying to stay hip with the youths, and the kills are pretty lackadaisical. But I can’t deny that it gets pretty special once that hilarious disco prom starts. The already-dated music and clothes, the Barbara Walters Interview soft-focus lighting, and the presence of Leslie Nielsen all make it feel much more classically high camp than its contemporaries. It’s the only slasher movie I could see making a workable double feature with, like, MOMMY DEAREST or BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.

    Surprisingly, I kind of like the remake. I don’t remember why but I was surprised by how much it didn’t suck that bad.

  4. I haven’t seen this one in over 30 years, so take this with a grain of salt.


    I like that Vern tactfully avoids giving anything away, but isn’t the “mystery” kind of nonexistent to anyone who has, say, ever seen a movie before? Or was there more subterfuge than I recall?


    This movie is indeed terrible, something even 10 or 12 year old me could tell in the early ‘80s. I admire Vern’s ability to find the wheat in this chaffe.

  5. I had a high school friend who was Casey Stevens’ niece. I think she had some bitterness toward how PROM NIGHT is mostly only quoted as a Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen movie, while her uncle died young and it was his main film credit. Even at that age, I don’t think I got too far into watching this. I gave it anther shot several years ago. It’s fine, but mostly because of the disco stuff and the amazing title song (reused in CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER).

    As era Canadian slashers go, it lacks the atmosphere of TERROR TRAIN and MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and is definitely not on the level of VISITING HOURS or BLACK CHRISTMAS. But I think I liked it ok. I may remember the glossy remake slightly more.

  6. grimgrinningchris

    May 29th, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    This may be the only one of the second (or even third) tier Halloween knockoffs from the era that for whatever reason, I’ve never seen.

    If Vern got something out of it then I’ll have to rectify that.

    I HAVE always liked that the sequel’s title rhymes.

  7. Oh come ON Mr. M. If you can go into a blind rage over The Last Jedi, the Prom Night remake should at least annoy the shit out of you.

  8. “And I kinda like disco.”

    Aw, dude…

    This is an OK slasher. Even at the height of the craze it was touted primarily for Jamie Lee’s involvement. It’s comparatively light on the gore, and the multiple storylines that Vern mentions early on are a bit of a detriment. A sleeker, more focused slasher would have been preferable.

    The “sequel” rocks, though. It seriously ups the gonzo and makes for an entertaining evening.

  9. My uncle was one of the investors in this. I don’t think he ever saw it, though. I’ve seen it twice, but it didn’t leave much of an impression ― I try to bring a scene to mind, and wind up thinking of Carrie or Terror Train instead.The second one is a goofy Elm Street rip-off with almost no connection to the first movie, and it’s a lot more fun.

    In Canada those high school dances are called formals. The only old Canadian slasher that really seemed like it was set in Canada was My Bloody Valentine, unless you start counting stuff like Cronenberg movies or The Silent Partner.

  10. What blind rage? I thought my response to LAST JEDI was quite measured and thoughtful. I did not insult anyone or get pretentious about the death of storytelling or anything. I even found a couple good things to say about it. I’m like the 12th angriest guy on that thread.

  11. Okay, fine, I did insult Poe Dameron. Because fuck Poe Dameron. That guy sucks.

  12. Haven’t seen this, but I’m Canadian so I feel like I have to check it out now.

    Also, like, disco actually kicks ass? I wasn’t alive for its heyday but it’s so widely reviled and I’ve never understood why.

  13. caruso_stalker217

    May 30th, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    This film is fucking terrible. 40 minutes of disco prom bullshit while some dink goes around killing nobodies. Zero atmosphere. The characters don’t even know there’s a killer on the loose or that they’re being targeted, so absolutely no tension. Just a bunch of dumb fucks at their dumbfuck prom getting picked off one at a time. The closest thing to a character worth rooting for is the fat guy in the van.

    But I guess it must have made an impression because I watched once three fucking years ago and I’m pretty sure most of the shit I typed up there is accurate.

    PROM NIGHT 2 is a pile of shit, but at least it’s actually trying to be a movie.

  14. Evan, I think the hate for Disco came of course from its popularity at the time. I’m a bit too young to have lived in that time too, but I can imagine it’s the old “fuck the mainstream” paired with simple oversaturation. (There were even Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Disco albums!!)

    Also I read an article, where the origins of the “Disco Sucks” movement were linked to racism, because it was black music, before it was Travoltappropriated. I’m sure most anti-Disco people didn’t really think about that and really just hated the sounds.

    I’m a disco fan too and I’m glad that the sound seems to make a comeback in the clubs. Mostly in the form of samples and House remixes of classic songs, but since House was born out of Disco and the typical disco sound is in every form highly bootymovable, I’m okay with that.

  15. Disco also started out as a largely gay scene, with songs like “I’m Coming Out” and “I Will Survive” continuing to be anthems in the community to this day. I agree that the rejection was also related to the usual, natural instinct to hate popular mainstream crap, but I don’t think you can deny homophobia was a big part of the macho and even violent backlash.

    When I said “I kinda like” it I didn’t mean more than that. Funk is the music that moves me most, and whether or not I like, say, a Kool and the Gang song depends on it leaning on the funk side and not on the disco. But there’s something so goofy about the excessive polish and boundless optimism of disco, combined with some great basslines and beats designed to dance to that some of it can’t help but pull a half ironic, half serious appreciation out of me. And disco versions of movie themes are irresistible to me, so I’ve built up a pretty solid collection of those. (But I like funk or jazz versions in complete sincerity.)

  16. I still think you should create a mixtape with some of the coolest and funkiest shit from your collection one day.

  17. I agree with Vern on that. The Disco Sucks movement may not have been knowingly racist and homophobic, but it at least was subconsciously. Something similar happened at the end of the ‘90s (and I haven’t thought it through enough to call it homophobic) when popular music became infiltrated with boy bands. After a pretty aggressive musical decade, the sudden lack of machismo gave some a bit of whiplash.

    George Clinton has an interesting passage in his bio where he talks about how funk was heard through lower class neighborhoods. When it morphed into disco, suddenly the cars and drugs that showed up at parties were more expensive. So there was a bit of a class divide in those genres.

  18. As an old punk rocker I can assure you that our hate for disco did not come from racism and/or any anti gay sentiments. We fought nazis in the street because of that shit. But disco was the common nominator for everything mainstream, square and yuppie like. It was basically what our parents danced to!

  19. As a teenager I prided myself on hating disco. To be fair, it was almost all things 70s. I came to realize that I only hate some disco. Like most things in life. A big part of it was generational. It was old and lame. A lot of that had to do with the proliferation of bad elevator-like musak disco. There were way too many slide show presentations in school that were out of date and cheesy.

    Now I find some of it fun and like dancing to it. I still can’t stand the Bee Gees. Something about that falsetto makes me cringe. Not all falsetto, just his. Prince falsetto = good; Bee Gee falsetto = nails on a chalkboard.

    I don’t like this thing they do with the drums that makes a chh chh chh sound. Also not a fan of the bomp bomp bwow. If any of that made sense.

  20. Yeah, like I said, most people hated Disco because it was Disco, not because it had a black or gay background. Re-reading the article again (linked below), it does seem like the old case of “Some people are against something, then the racist assholes join in suddenly you are one of them, although you are not”, that still happens today with every single thing.

    I still have to say that this was the first time I ever heard of “Disco Sucks” as some kind of Neo Nazi Redneck movement, so I guess all in all history was smart enough to see that it was more a “fuck the mainstream” thing.

    When a loudmouthed DJ tried to kill disco, the homophobic and racist implications were impossible…

    It was black music. It was gay music. And the “disco sucks” movement said, “burn, baby, burn”

  21. The DJ who put on “Disco Demolition Night” wrote a book about it. He says it was entirely about defending rock and not wanting to have to learn how to dance or dress up:

    “Annexing this event to today’s advocacy is lazy academically and inappropriate geographically. We did not have the scene that London and New York City had. No Studio 54. No secret venues for gay folks. The voices making social commentary were musicians in groups like The Village People. For them, the declaration for disco may have had an agenda of inclusion. For us, the push back was just an impulsive movement to declare that our music mattered to us, and we weren’t going to be lured into Disco DAI, or any club that did not honor our roots. It is the right of each generation to declare, ‘this is who I am.’ And to dance to the beat they choose to dance to — even if it is only head thrashing. No harm was intended, none was conveyed.”


    That implies that it only seems reactionary looking back through the eyes of modern political correctness, but here’s Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone at the end of ’79:

    “The antidisco movement, which has been publicized by such FM personalities as notorious Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, is simply another programming device. White males, eighteen to thirty-four, are the most likely to see disco as the product of homosexuals, blacks and Latins, and therefore they’re most likely to respond to appeals to wipe out such threats to their security. It goes almost without saying that such appeals are racist and sexist, but broadcasting has never been an especially civil-libertarian medium.”


    Anyway, I believe that that guy believes it had nothing to do with racism and homophobia, but also I believe that there’s no way racism and homophobia didn’t play a part in it for many people. Nobody wanted to fuckin blow up a pile of Perry Como records.

  22. Sure we did, Vern. We political punks/rockers of the late 70s, and the whole of the 80s, where as much defined by what we hated as what we liked. Musical behemoths like Pink Floyd and Yes, the insane Elvis Presley cult, Eurovision Song Contest winners like ABBA, James “Fucking” Last and the collective term “disco” – we wanted to blow them all of the stage. But we hated nazis, racists and homophobes even more. We literally fought against them. In those days you couldn’t get into disco places without a jacket and posh shoes, so in our eyes the disco people were very much a part of the establishment trying to make everyone in the world a square. Right wing politicians were seen dancing to Bee Gees on TV shows, and as I said earlier, our parents generation would happily put on Donna Summer on Saturday night. I’ve never heard of the DJ above, but the “I hate disco” movement that rockabilly “the South will rise again” Elvis fans represented were a minimal problem at the time. It’s only now, after the rehabilitation of disco, that they have become the symbol of that time in music history. Of course I’m talking about our little corner of the world. It may have been different in America. It usually is.

  23. I don’t see any difference between the anti-disco movement and the “Rap isn’t even music!” movement that came a decade and a half later once hip-hop started having some sway. Whether they realize it at the time or not, it’s white dudes realizing not everything is made for and by them and, instead of just accepting it and letting other people have it, they gotta dig in their heels and act like they’re being victimized. All they had to do was change the station like they do with the dozens of other kinds of music that they don’t like, but no, they had to be a drama queen about it. Oh no, were other people having fun without getting your permission first? Boo the fuck hoo.

    I like disco. It’s got bass lines, epic horns, soaring strings, pioneering electronic experimentation, and funky breakdowns out the ass. I don’t even like dancing and I think you’d have to be some kind of joyless monster to not see SOME value in the arrangements and production at least.

  24. I would also like to point out that, in New York, for example, where whiny white dudes are forced to SOMEWHAT learn to share, punk and disco got along just fine. That’s how you got Talking Heads and Blondie and a bunch of other bands that are pretty much the textbook definition of cool by modern standards. Nobody told them that disco was the enemy. And I know it’s not just a New York thing. Shit, The Clash made disco songs. I like punk a lot, probably more than disco, but I check out when it becomes a set of rules and not a style of music. Listen to what you like. Make it your own. You like Donna Summers? ROCK THAT SHIT. That’s punk as fuck.

  25. On the other hand, I can see how, if your immediate exposure to the genre is just a bunch of cheeseballs in ugly suits trying to get laid. It’s understandable you’d push against that if you’re a certain type of person. I probably would have hated disco if I’d been a teenager at the time, too. But if you’re holding onto that all these decades later and can’t see some of the invisible sociopolitical forces driving the disproportionately vicious backlash, that’s not healthy. Dislike the music all you want, but the genre clearly wasn’t the death knell of musical integrity that it was purported to be. A lot of creativity came out of disco that we’re still feeling the ripples of to this day. It’s an important piece of history.

    Speaking of history (the Russian kind), here is the greatest disco song ever recorded. It both moves the booty and feeds the mind. You’re welcome.

  26. Can’t go wrong with Boney M (which, btw, was a German project).

    The frontman was a goddamn dance machine and one of their songs was featured in an episode of ASH VS EVIL DEAD!

  27. That song is awesome, CJ! (Bonus points for stealing the title from a Donald Goines book.) Thank you for introducing it to me. When I first became acquainted with “Rasputin” all these years ago, I assumed any band that could come up with such a work of genius must have some other bangers to their credit. Sadly, all the other songs of theirs I could track down (this was in the heyday of Limewire) were fucking terrible. That New Years song they did might be the worst song ever recorded. This discovery now opens up whole new avenues of exploration.

    In return, here is a metal cover of “Rasputin” that is played completely straight and is no less metal for it.

  28. Oh, I forgot. This one was also kind of great, even if it’s a little basic compared to the wit and majesty of “Rasputin.”

  29. Another noteworthy Boney M song is IMO this one. Not just because a neighbour of mine used to play this DAMN FUCKING LOUD at night whenever he felt like it (“Wednesday 3am? Fuck it, let’s annoy the rest of the building with Boney M in wondow shaking volume!”), we’ve all heard a sample of it in an endless loop, when a tongue-in-cheek Disco House track became a worldwide phenomenon a few years ago. (Which then went on to prevent Scott Bakula from sleeping during a German convention weekend. It all came full circle.)

  30. Mr M, this is bullshit! You can play your little games when it comes to movies, but when it comes to music don’t pretend to know what we were thinking years before you were born. There’s no getting around that disco was made by and for the well off and punk for the working class!

  31. I had that coming. I don’t have the right to judge your experience. But somehow I don’t think the dichotomy is quite as cut and dry as you make it out to be. I think you’d have a hard time looking in the eye the many urban black, Latino, gay, and female musicians (not to mention all the wild and weird disco bands coming out of the Third World, which were a lot) who made most of the best disco and telling them that they were the elite and that the real underdogs were some angry honkey teenagers from the suburbs. I’ll take your word for it that your experience with disco was all middle class cheeseballs with gold medallions and 8 balls. I’d probably hate those assholes too. But that’s what happened after The Bee Gees got to it. That’s not where it came from and that’s not what it’s meant to represent anymore than Green Day represents what punk is meant to represent. Everything gets bastardized eventually.

  32. I like Billy Ocean.

  33. I can’t argue with you there, Mr M. Nothing is more subjective than our taste in music. And even if most of us have mellowed over the years, the fire is still there.

  34. Me too!

    A son of immigrants who named himself after the housing project ( or “estate” as the Brits call them) he grew up in, by the way.

  35. Pegs: I know what you mean. I grew up a hop-hop fan in a time and place when that wasn’t quite accepted yet. In its form and function, it spoke to me. I heard a lot of arguments from a lot of different groups, from hardcore kids to metalheads to hippies to indie nerds, about why the music they liked was REAL and the music I liked was FAKE. I even did the same thing to people who listened to rap that I felt wasn’t “authentic.” And I’m still kind of doing it to this day, because for the life of me I can’t understand what anybody who claims to appreciate hip-hop would see in most of the marble-mouthed nonsense that’s popular in that genre these days. But I recognize that I’m full of shit. There’s nothing inherent in music. It’s about what it brings out in the listener. The cheesiest piece of garbage can inspire hope and beauty, and the most raw, unvarnished work of soul-searching integrity can inspire nothing but boredom. Music is the purest form of expression there is. There’s no interpretation needed. You can’t logic your way into or out of it. Either it hits you in the place where it’s supposed to hit you or it doesn’t. For that reason, I try not to judge people for their musical taste. I might not agree with it, but I’m not listening to it with their ears and their hearts. I’m not hearing what they hear. How a song makes you feel, that’s the only authenticity that matters.

  36. I’ve always strongly disliked disco music… but I never knew it was considered “black” music. I always saw it as super duper white. The only thing about it I ever appreciated was the Queer over/under/straight-up-tones.

    Don’t think you have to be a bigot to dislike the genre. Though… destroying the records ina bonfire or whatever does seem suspect.

  37. Am I the only one who thought that *SPOILERS* Curtis was the killer?? I mean, the more famous cover of this movie shows her in the prom dress and tiara (which she never wears in the movie) holding an axe; it basically says she’s the slasher this time, which I actually thought she was growing up, until I found out years later this was a whodunit. So I’m curious if the movie WANTED you to think that she was – or was that concept too ahead of its time back then? I’m actually asking since I’m not really well-versed in the slasher genre and for all I know the final girl was revealed to be the killer in a bunch of movies by this point.

    I mean, she’s offscreen for giant chunks of this movie too while the killing is going on, and the killer even sorta looks like her; I started to wonder if they actually had her (or another woman) dress up as the killer to make people think that. But anyways, it’s too bad the killer turns out to be the more obvious suspect, and unfortunately the movie seems like it ends 10 minutes too soon – the earlier principal scene where Leslie Nielsen chooses family favoritism over blind justice completely sets up an ending where Curtis or Nielsen find out the brother is the killer but then pin it on the boyfriend (who essentially gets away with “murder” and has no closure to his storyline here). Other than that, yeah this is a passable matinee for historical purposes, but definitely no Halloween or Carrie.

  38. Just completed my first watch of this. Stray thoughts:

    1. Cheesy as hell – very early 80s after school special. I can’t decide if that’s a compliment or insult yet.
    2. Too damn slow to get going for my sensibilities and given that it’s not offering much worthwhile – there’s slow burn that actually creates and revels in atmosphere and then there’s just padding. That’s an insult.
    3. Jamie Lee kicks so much ass. Her dancing alone is worth the price.
    4. Once the kills actually get going, they’re pretty fun.
    5. I love van couple! and SPOILERS….their deaths!
    6. Decapitation scene is pricelss. A delight!
    7. Surprisingly heartstring-pulling final scene. Nicely done, person who plays Prom Night killer!
    8. Probably the horniest film I can recall that never shows actual nipples (unless I looked away). Not an insult.
    9. That first scene with the kids is creepy af. A great prologue hook. Followed by 40 or 50 minutes of nothingburger.
    10. 10 extra points awarded for presence of Leslie Nielsen.
    11. Don’t know if I’d qualify as a disco fan and don’t really give a shit about the historical politics, but there are many disco songs I thoroughly enjoy, particularly the Bee Gees SNF tunes (what can I say, I’m a basic bitch). I also unabashedly love “It’s Raining Men” (but the BRIDGENT JONES version by the Spice Girl, singular). 40 points for effective use of disco.
    12. The cinematography is so weird and TV-ish, but the actual picture quality on my cheesy DVD looks like a million bucks. Clear as a bell.

    Verdict – This movie’s kind of terrible but maybe so camp plus Jamie Lee plus Leslie Nielsen that it’s good. Will have to watch again sometime before I can really say. Don’t regret crossing it off the bucket list, though. This was moderately fun.

  39. One final observation is that this film does a nice job of trying to take you into a kid’s experience, both pre-teen kids (at the prologue) and teen kids (rest of film). The prologue is pretty well-performed by the kids, and I was emotionally involved in the dynamics of peer pressure, inclusion/exclusion/acceptance, bullying, and heartbreak. Then, when we get to high school, there are lot of the familiar elements of any late-70s through 2000s film, including again the issues of bullying and acceptance, but with the added complication of stronger gender norms and gender-patterned behaviors and expectations that was conspicuously not a feature of the prologue but conspicuously is a feature of the teen years. And this notion that sexuality and gender issues mark a definitive element of the adolescent transition from childhood to adulthood ultimately proves to be a powerful theme in the film.
    So, when the young women bully, it’s classic mean-girling, and when the guys bully, it’s real fisticuffs in the lunchroom and threats of violence. Likewise, there are tensions around sexuality and gendered expectations and desires that may align or be at cross-purposes. There’s this fascinating little discussion between Jamie Lee and Kelly (in the shower, of course!) about sex and whether it is smart or appropriate to give in to Drew’s advances, and then Jamie Lee’s character tersely but impressively conveys to Kelly that she might adopt a less gender norm-driven view of her options.

    Not surprising that a prom-centric movie would entail a lot of politicking and hand-wringing around hooking up, of course, but there are some surprising nuances and things to mine with the gender/sexuality/coming-of-age material here, with Jamie Lee once again being the self-assured, dances-to-her-own beat (literally!) badass. I have no idea how all of this would be re-imagined or re-interpreted in light of current conversations around sexuality and sexual identity, but, in terms of reflecting and engaging with its times, I thought the film was doing some interesting things.

    I also think there’s something really strangely effective about getting you really invested in these guys as little kids and then hard-pivoting to the world of high school sexual politics, gender segregation, peer pressures and cross-pressures, and gendered bullying. Six years does not seem like a lot of time to me anymore, but six years is a hell of a long time and a transformative time when it’s the six years between 12 and 18!

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