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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 10/31/00

Prom Night
1980 (1997) - Anchor Bay

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Prom Night Film Rating: C

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 extreme amounts.

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 near future.

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...

Dan Kelly
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