Prom Night is one of the many slashers released in the wake of Halloween’s success. And just like many of its ilk, Paul Lynch’s film barely grazes Carpenter’s greatness. Despite the presence of Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis, Prom Night failed to make a splash on its initial release. It did, however, amass a strong cult following. The reasons for this reverence are explored on the special features of Synapse’s impressive looking Blu-ray package, which features a great retrospective (minus Curtis) and feature length commentary with Lynch and screenwriter William Gray. Fans of the film are going to want this on their shelves ASAP.
Like a lot of slashers, Prom Night kicks off with a with a tragic accident. During a startlingly hostile game of hide-and-seek in an abandoned hospital, a young girl named Robin is so badly taunted she falls from a window to her death. The kids ditch the scene and the murder is pinned on a local sex offender. Fast forward years later and Robin’s family is still heavily feeling their loss. Her sister Kim (Curtis) and brother Alex (Michael Tough) are getting ready to attend prom, but they can’t help think about how Robin is missing out. But hey, life goes on and there’s disco dancing to be done!
Yeah, Prom Night came out as disco was in its death throes, but its waning popularity didn’t stop the filmmakers from infusing it with annoying music and dance numbers. There’s even a Prom Night disco theme, which is actually kinda funny (they were sued over the music, which is discussed in the retrospective). The teen partying is cut short when a masked killer starts slaying all of the kids involved with Robin’s death. First he calls them and in a wicked creepy voice asks if they’re going to prom. Just like Laurie in Halloween thinking Lynda being choked out is a phone gag, the kids think these phone calls are just their friends goofing off.
There’s a lot of red herrings in Prom Night and none of them really work. There’s a jail break and a creepy school janitor that no one trusts. Seasoned viewers aren’t going to fall for any misdirection though. The killings don’t pick up until near the end, so the first two acts are essentially Kim and her friends getting ready for the prom. There’s also a petty revenge plot involving Kim’s friend Wendy (Anne-Marie Martin) and a sleaze ball named Lou (David Mucci). Their attempt at revenge against Wendy’s ex-boyfriend is a nice distraction from the heaping portions of ‘80s cheese going on before the murders.
For one of the second-tier slashers of the period, Prom Night isn’t too bad. It has some entertaining thrills and I like that the killer is actually made out to be sympathetic. Curtis is great and the rest of the young cast is fun as well. Many will be drawn in by the ‘80s nostalgia and if you find yourself in that camp, Synapse’s Blu-ray is a must-buy.
This is the first time Prom Night has been released on Blu-ray in the U.S. and the transfer is fantastic. It comes from a new 2K scan of the original 35mm negative and it shows. Dirt and other blemishes are nearly non-existent and details are sharp. It’s a truly impressive transfer from start to finish. Bravo, Synapse. The 5.1 remix is also terrific and offers an immersive presentation. I hope you like disco!
The special features nicely round out a great package. “The Horrors of Hamilton High” is a 40 minute retrospective featuring nearly the entire cast (minus Curtis) as well as Lynch, and the producers. They obviously look back fondly on this film and Leslie Nielson’s pocket fart machine.
The feature commentary with Lynch and Gray is a lively one detailing the filmmaking. Not much of the information is rehashed in the retrospective, so if you really, really dig the movie, then check out the commentary.
The bonus scenes added for TV broadcast are introduced by the editor. These are basically more character moment with Curtis, Nielsen and others.
There’s also 20 minutes of outtakes, trailers, TV and radio spots, and a motion still gallery.
Blu-RayJamie Lee CurtisProm NightSynapse
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