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Prom Night (1980)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this isn't the PROM NIGHT from 2008, but rather the 1980 original. There is nudity and teen sex among the characters. While violence isn't torture-porn level, there are still bloody killings and death. Characters are mean-spirited, smoking and drinking teens who fight. There exist a series of barely related sequels (Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night Two), conspicuously done without the actors here, that go much farther into gore, sex, and campy tastelessness.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Kids play tag in an abandoned building, chanting "The killers are coming!" and terrorize playmate Robin into falling out a broken window to her death. They swear each other to secrecy -- even the victim's sister Kim. Six years later, when they're high school seniors, Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a surprise choice for Hamilton High School Prom Queen, which brings up a lot of bad feelings. At that point a mystery stalker begins phoning threats to all the teens. Confusing flashbacks and cop-talk also tells us a disfigured psycho falsely imprisoned for killing Robin is amok again. Kim's dad (Leslie Nielsen), the principle, has just hired a creepy new janitor. And a class punk, just expelled, plans revenge at the prom. Which one is the black-masked marauder murdering kids during the dance?
Is it any good?
PROM NIGHT was among tons of low-grade horror garbage released in slavish imitation of the original Halloween. This had the luck to somehow cast that one's leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis in a main role. And a lot of the others were heaps worse. Still, it's unoriginal, the characters (who look like 20-somethings rather than teens) are underwritten and unappealing, and the mystery element about who the killer is fizzles out. Only in some death chases is there suspense, and that's pretty bleak, entertainment-wise. Most scary of all -- the climax is practically wall-to-wall disco. Jamie Lee dances nicely, though.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's bad to play in abandoned buildings, for openers. Young people like to watch movies in which young people get slaughtered. Why? What makes a "good" slasher-horror movie? You could talk about the crusade against these films led by critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (who both gave Halloween big thumbs-up, by the way) saying that they were dehumanizing and hatefully anti-female. Do you think that's true? gave him a complete makeover as a comic.
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