Time for another film available for free on YouTube – the sign of a quality movie.
Prom Night opens with a group of children playing hide and seek. It’s all fun and games until one of them falls out of a window, and the others make like Usain and bolt. We then jump forward six years, as the insipid kids (now insipid teens) prepare for their senior prom. Hang on, six years? Senior prom? Who did the maths here, George Osborne?
Generously described by Roger Ebert as “utterly inept”, Prom Night is made with a kind of incompetence usually reserved for Volkswagens. The plot is incomprehensible, the editing incoherent and the direction incapable. Everything else, however, is disastrous.
The film introduces our protagonist, Kim, without bothering to explain if she was one of the kids at the start, or why she matters, or who she is. All we know is that she’s Jamie Lee Curtis, the original scream queen. Writing in the 1980s, Ebert notes: “Curtis is to the current horror film glut what Christopher Lee was to the last one – or Boris Karloff was in the 1930s.” Today’s equivalent is either Jessica Stroup or that malevolent spirit from the Paranormal Activity franchise.
We have to wait a full hour before these abhorrent adolescents start getting put out of our misery, and even then there’s less gore than most actual proms. The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies gives the film a gore rating of 1 splatter out of a possible 5, indicating: “Sorry folks, a little low key, only one or two bloodthirsty scenes.”
This would be forgivable with a suspenseful build-up, but instead we get tediously long scenes of ineptly paced and inadvisably sincere high school drama, played out without tension, humour or purpose. The YouTube version is slightly sped up, but it still feels painfully slow.
The movie pads out its 92-minute runtime (83 on YouTube) with an extended disco dance routine, at which point it incongruously becomes Prom Night Fever, or Disco Carrie. I can recommend watching this sequence sped up, or better still, not at all.
It takes real idiocy to so drastically screw up the stalk-n-slash formula, but Prom Night manages it with unprecedented levels of ineptitude. Of course, it kicked off a five-movie franchise, complete with an obligatory remake – starring Jessica Stroup, naturally.
Even by ’80s slasher movie standards, this is bad. Released in 1980, it aims for Halloween-style restraint, but ends up Halloween II-style boring. Like a real high school prom, the film is deathly dull, and presumably only enjoyable for those too drunk to think. Or see.