Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 10/31/00
1980 (1997) - Anchor Bay
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): D/C/D
Specs and Features
91 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer,
film-themed menu screens, scene access (9 chapters), languages:
English (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: none
In just a few short
years following the release of Halloween,
there were countless imitators. Some of them were good, but most
were plain old bad or just flat out awful. Of all the clones that
followed, Prom Night stayed
closest to the formula laid out by Halloween
and bears more than a passing resemblance to it. Does that put it on
the same level as Halloween?
No, but it does have its moments and manages to escape being
offensive to moviegoers - something many horror films often do in
The movie starts, like many thrillers, with a tragic death that
will play a part in the rest of the film's plot. A group of kids are
playing a morbid version of hide-and-seek in an abandoned
schoolhouse. When Robin Hammond accidentally falls to her death from
a third story window, the remaining four kids make a pact never to
tell anyone what happens. The police finger a suspected child
molester as the killer and he goes to jail.
Six years later, the accused killer has escaped from the mental
institution, putting the local police on alert. The four kids are
now all grown up and start to get calls from somebody promising
revenge for the fateful night when Robin died. All this is happening
on the day Robin's sister, Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis), is about to be
elected Prom Queen. In typical slasher fashion, her friends are
being picked off, one by one, as they engage in the usual assortment
of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. To be honest, I remember being
shocked when I first found out who the killer was. Granted though, I
was only nine years old and was staying up way past my bed time to
see it on HBO.
Though a good portion of the movie manages to be scary, it often
lapses into silly cliche. There's an extended disco dance sequence
once the prom gets underway, that makes Lord
of the Dance look like a high class production. And some
of the dialogue is downright laughable. Here's one of the more
winning lines: "For a guy so fast on the disco floor, you sure
are slow." This was 1980, the tale end of the disco era, and
that line was spoken by a man in his forties to his son. Yikes! My
guess is that Prom Night is
only going to be appealing to major genre fans. There's nothing here
to hold the interest of the average film fan. I liked parts of it,
and some of it did scare me... but then so do those creepy freaky
little Teletubbies. Watcha gonna do?
What can't I mention when addressing the poor quality of this DVD?
It's got everything you hate - spotty and greyish blacks, color
bleed, lots of shimmer, digital artifacting galore and a rough
looking source print. All that is tied up with a boring
non-anamorphic transfer. In short, Anchor Bay's
Prom Night is easily one of
the worst looking DVD's I've ever watched. It even rivals their own
initial release of Halloween
in terms of poor quality. Luckily for film fans, they reissued
Halloween as a stellar special
edition late last year. Let's hope they can revisit
Prom Night sometime in the
The audio mix is also a major disappointment. It's Dolby Digital
mono, but it's a flat, lifeless mix that is very inconsistent.
Dialogue is frustratingly muffled. What's even more irritating is
that the snippets of dialogue in the chapter search menu sound TONS
better than the actual movie. Sound effects alternate between being
slightly too loud and too subdued.
I don't know if I can recommend this disc, even if you are a
die-hard fan of the film. The only extra to speak of is the film's
theatrical trailer. Combine that with a shoddy transfer and poor
audio, and there's no reason to add this to your DVD collection.
Let's face it... movies with only a low entertainment level need
something extra on DVD to grab your attention and get you to shell
out a few dollars. This disc simply doesn't have anything like that.
Until Terror Train makes its
way to DVD, this is about it for your Canadian-made, Jamie Lee
Curtis, Halloween rip-off,
teenagers that look like thirty-somethings, slasher-type movies.
Prom Night on DVD MAY be worth
a rental (which is about all you can do anyway, 'cause it's out of
print). But remember, I said it MAY be worth a rental...
THIS DISC IS CURRENTLY
OUT OF PRINT.