Original ‘Prom Night’ disappoints despite good cast

Kelly Petryszyn

Classic ’90s horror movie lacks in plot, fails to frighten

“Some will be crowned; others will lose their heads,” reads a tagline for the 1980 classic, Prom Night. The tagline does not lie. The horror flick turns an event that is a much-awaited rite of passage into a nightmare that you don’t want to relive.

The story opens with a group of 12-year-old kids playing in an abandoned building. They taunt their friend, Robin Hammond, to the point where she accidentally falls a two-story drop to her death. Being kids, they decide to keep it quiet but little do they know someone was watching. Years later, when the kids have grown up and attend high school, the witness seeks revenge on their prom night.

Jamie Lee Curtis stars as Robin’s sister and the prom queen, who is still dealing with the tragedy of her sister’s death years later. Curtis, at the start of her career as a scream queen, plays the tough heroine with a certain spunk that makes her more than a damsel in distress. However, for Curtis being the star of the movie, she gets very little screen time. The audience does not get to know her character.

Her boyfriend and prom king is played by Casey Stevens, who is also one of the kids responsible for the death of Robin. Leslie Nielsen plays Ray Hammond, Robin’s father and principal of the school. Nielsen is average in his role as the stern authoritarian.

The movie, in classic ’80s style, has its share of cliché moments such as a fight in the cafeteria, a girls’ locker room scene and, of course, a high school dance. There is a highly entertaining moment when Curtis and Stevens bust out in a “Saturday Night Fever”-style dance on a light floor at the prom.

Prom Night is a typical horror movie. None of the characters are developed. The story revolves around the killer’s plot rather than the other characters’ struggle. It starts out slow and then jumps right to the kids’ high school years on prom day, wasting no time. Its 90-minute run makes the movie seem disjointed and a little too brief. Also, the ending is abrupt and disappointing.

Credit is due in the gross-out department. Even though the idea of a dead body in ’80s films was fake-looking mannequins covered in corn syrup, the movie still managed to dish out some disturbing moments. The carnival-style lights in the movie make the prom appear more like a freak-show that ruins the idea of a prom for a while.

The movie could have been more terrifying if the killer was more menacing. Usually killers are threatening or at least evoke a creepy feeling at the sight of them. The killer in Prom Night is weak-looking and wears a glitter mask. Last time I checked, glitter didn’t make me squirm.

Prom Night is a classic ’80s horror movie that lacks in plot and only somewhat succeeds in frightening the viewer.

Contact all reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].