From Scream Queen to Dancing Queen, that’s one way of putting the career of Jamie Lee Curtis - from Halloween to Prom Night, the famous Canadian slasher that somehow created - just like it’s siblings from Hollywood - the clichées. First of all, I never been a fan of Prom Night. My fandom have more been centered around the fact Jamie Lee Curtis stars in it. I’ve been trying to see the quality in it for many years, but failed. Not that it’s a bad slasher, but I’ve always felt it’s almost too serious and laidback for its own good. So I felt it was time I gave it a new chance when Synapse Films finally released it on a truly stunning-looking blu-ray.
I think the reason why I’ve always had problems with it is the beginning, with that visually soft, dated look trying to be as flashbackish as it can be. I don’t mind it, but I do mind we see four kids - more or less dwarfs - grow from a decimeter in length to fully grown human beings in six years. I mean, I know about puberty, but this is extreme! Yeah, the six years; they accidentally kills another kid and then someone takes revenge on them a few years later when they look like thirty something teenagers á la 1980.
So the story is nothing new. You will recognize some of the scenes from Wes Craven’s Scream, of course a nice tribute by writer Kevin Williamson, and in this original movie they’re actually quite effective and less forced. The telephone calls, the character set-up. Everything is there, except references to even older genre movies. The it takes quite some time for something to happen. There’s a lot of “teen” drama (they really don’t look young at all!) until prom night finally comes and the killer can start slashing the sluts away. Both female and male. And final girl is as usual Jamie Lee Curtis.
There’s a lot of negative things to say about Prom Night, but I’ve dwelled on that so much earlier in my life I’m gonna try to focus on the positive things, like the stylish direction by Paul Lynch (who later directed the underrated Humongous), the nice score and the fucking awesome disco scene with Jamie Lee Curtis in full dancing mode. SO cool. The kills are non-gory (except one graphic decapitation), but filmed with a lot of style and going more at the Hitchcock direction than Fulci, if you know what I mean. What makes them so powerful is the strong characters. You REALLY pity the victims, even the less charming ones, because they don’t deserve it! They were kids and did something stupid, but that was a long (well, six years…) time ago and now they wanna fuck and smoke pot, just like you and me, dear reader.
While it strays into typical teen territory instead of the gory slasher-area I would have wanted it to go, I must say I like it more and more. Maybe I demanded more at a younger age, gore and silliness - and not love trouble and a more subtle thriller-esque direction. But the more I think of it, the better it gets. It’s a juicy slice of the 80’s and is not ashamed of it. It’s glitter-porn (even the killer have a glittery face mask!) with a dash of tacky prom night atmosphere-masturbation. And it’s constant, it’s all there all the time.
That’s why it works, that’s why it’s been able to survive all these years. It’s a good little movie, Prom Night, even if it have some flaws. Or beauty marks, it depends on how you see it.