Jessie’s Saturday Night Fright Flick: PROM NIGHT

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Jess

SHOCK’s Jessie Robbins picks a classic fright flick for a scary Saturday night.

PromNight

It’s summer time!  The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the end of the school year is upon us.  This is a very special week my friends, because I have decided to spotlight not only prom here on your Saturday Night Fright Flick, but also CANADA DAY!  And what better way to do that then to talk about one of MY favorite summer movies, the Canadian, Jamie Lee Curtis classic PROM NIGHT (1980).

My prom was a curious thing.  I had a tough time in middle school, and early high school, I was teased a lot (weren’t we all?) and for a while came up with some pretty interesting style choices that I refuse to acknowledge to this day.  But by the time prom had come around, I felt as though I had finally become the swan to my ugly duckling.  And although it was quite underwhelming and we left for the after party about a quarter of the way through, it was that night, after prom, that I had my own little taste of revenge!

Prom Night begins with a group of kids playing in an old abandoned building.  The game itself is simple, run after your friends yelling “KILLERS ARE COMING” until you’re just a big group of killers chasing after the last kid.  The only thing I don’t get is how to win, the last girl just gets chased mercilessly until the horde of children just start yelling “KILL, KILL, KILL” with arms outstretched DAWN OF THE DEAD style until she cowers against a wall.  When the kids GET to her, what are they going to do, actually KILL her?  Apparently yes.  The girl gets a little too close to an old window and crashes through, falling tragically to her death.  The kids make a pact that they will never tell a soul that they were there that day, and leave the building, causing the police to believe a known child predator had killed the girl.

It’s been six years, the kids are now seniors in high school and you guessed it, it’s prom time.  And oh yeah, disco is still very much a thing.  Jamie Lee Curtis and her friends are all getting ready for the dance when they each start getting phone calls from a mysterious heavy breather, making semi-threatening wise-cracks about the impending prom, and then things get deadly.

It sounds positively grim but there is a lot of comedic gold glittering under the surface of this film.  The charming jokester Slick, almost running over a girl to get her attention, Jamie’s moment of lonely disco dancing in an empty auditorium, the dramatic detective noir film voice-overs.

The kills, while tame, and with most happening off-screen, are well thought out and at  times edited to perfection.  After a girl is chased around the school, she is trapped in a room.  You hear a persistent dripping.  As the killer gets closer to her hiding place, you begin to see quick shots of blood dripping.  Eventually, when the killer is right outside the door, we briefly see the body of one of the previous victims above the girl.  She screams as the body falls from where it was stashed, revealing herself to the killer.  It’s a genius scene.  PROM NIGHT is filled with interesting editing choices that I think make up for the lack of gore, instead relying on (and delivering) suspense.

The acting was 80’s slasher flick acting, nothing completely remarkable.  Jamie Lee obviously earns her crown as scream queen, Leslie Nielsen was pretty under used, and Casey Stevens was totally dreamy and redeemable.  But let’s talk about Lou (David Mucci) for a moment. Lou is despicable, and Mucci easily makes him so.  That sneer, that misogyny, that complete disregard for anyone but himself.  HE is the villain in this film, I empathized more with the man chopping off heads than I did with Lou.  Like I touched on with FREDDY VS JASON (read that column here), some people just NEED to get it in these films.

So kids, this weekend, while already celebrating Canada and all of it’s beaver loving, poutine eating, hockey playing glory, take a couple of hours to put on your puffiest dress, tease the hell out of your hair, and pop this sucker into your film player of choice.  (Extra points for watching the ridiculous sequels).

Oh yeah, back to my prom! At the after party I saw the boy who had made my life a living hell and caused me to switch schools after grade nine.  After pretending to flirt with him for a moment, because he had no idea who I was (I looked a lot different), I called him out for being an asshole in front of all of his friends, who then laughed at him like hyenas while I tossed my hair behind my shoulder, linked arms with a musician and sauntered away smugly.  It was a pretty good night after all.

Stay scared, babes.