GORE IN THE STORE
PROM NIGHT ****
Directed by Paul Lynch. Starring Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens, Jeff Wincott, Michael Tough, Anne-Marie Martin. Horror, Canada, 93 mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK as a Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray by 101 Films on 2nd December 2019.
With Jamie Lee Curtis returning to her slasher roots with last year’s HALLOWEEN, and the proposed sequel HALLOWEEN KILLS still roughly a year off from being released, it seems now would be a good time to take a look at her other early slasher movies in glorious HD. 1980s TERROR TRAIN got a digital polish earlier in the year but 101 Films have gotten hold of PROM NIGHT - Curtis’s other slasher from that year – and added it to their Black Label imprint for its UK Blu-ray debut, just to give it an extra bit of pizzazz.
Because PROM NIGHT is a slasher movie that needs a bit of pizzazz as, aside from the dance scene that everyone knows whether they have seen the film or not, there isn't anything that really marks it out as special, or at least different from the other post-HALLOWEEN slashers that aren't FRIDAY THE 13th. The casting of Jamie Lee Curtis proves to be the masterstroke here as her familiarity with horror audiences lends a lot of weight and she has certainly found her acting chops after her less confident debut as Laurie Strode, making her turn as Kim Hammond a better performance in a film that relies on her burgeoning reputation as a scream queen to carry it along.
The plot itself is a simple and unspectacular story about Robin Hammond, a young girl who falls to her death after being bullied by the ‘friends’ she is playing with. The group agree not to say anything about how she died and so we skip forward a few years and Robin’s sister Kim is getting ready to go to the school prom, along with her friends who, unbeknown to her, were the kids who bullied her sister. Although the kids never said what happened, somebody else saw and on prom night they will get their revenge.
Taken at face value PROM NIGHT is not what you could call a great movie; the pacing is a little off, the characters aren’t the most likeable, the actors are clearly several years older than the high school-age characters they are playing, the kills aren’t the most inventive you’ll ever see, if you actually see any of them at all as most of them take place off-screen, and save for the dancing scene there is very little flair to it but despite the box-ticking nature of it PROM NIGHT is somehow still very enjoyable. As previously stated, Jamie Lee Curtis has the most presence and fills the screen whenever she is on it but the rest of the cast are all decent, including a pre-THE NAKED GUN Leslie Nielsen playing it straight as Kim’s father, although you will have to fight the urge to come out with a quote from THE NAKED GUN or AIRPLANE! every time he speaks.
Yes, it is generic and borrows heavily from HALLOWEEN, CARRIE and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER but it works and although the sight of Jamie Lee Curtis and Casey Stevens as Kim’s boyfriend Nick dancing intensely to the thumping disco soundtrack may be the only thing you haven’t seen in any other slasher (so far) it is enough to at least make the film memorable amongst the slew of sleepover/camping slashers of the time
As well as some previously released extras in the form of an audio commentary with director Paul Lynch and screenwriter William Gray, additional scenes, outtakes and a making-of featurette the disc also has some brand new extra features, the best of which is CHASING THE FINAL GIRL, a documentary looking at the ‘final girl’ trope in horror movies that offers up a few different perspectives. There is also a brand new interview with director Paul Lynch, an audio commentary with FrightFest's very own Paul McEvoy and filmmaker Jake West and a limited edition booklet featuring new writings on the film by David Alexander and composer Paul Zaza. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to upgrade your old DVD copy then the quality of the picture should sway you as it does look pretty sweet in glorious HD, especially with the colours of the disco popping out of the screen, and although the kills may not be as inventive as those in FRIDAY THE 13TH the jump to Blu-ray hasn’t spoilt the illusion of the latex as it has in that film.
Overall, despite PROM NIGHT being decidedly average when it comes to plot and writing it does still entertain and the move to Blu-ray is a long overdue one considering the lesser-known slashers that have already had HD releases in the UK. If you’ve had your fill of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger then PROM NIGHT won’t offer you up anything you haven’t seen already when it comes to gore and violence but it is still worthy of your time just for being a slasher that does as you would expect with little-to-no frills, and the package as a whole is definitely worth picking up if you are a collector or simply in need of a format upgrade.