“Jump Cuts” is a recurring feature idea for A.D.D. in which I reveal the thoughts that swirl through my head as I watch famous (or infamous) movies. This time it’s Prom Night, a 1980 slasher flick that starred then scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, who cut her cinematic teeth, so to speak, in the horror world.
The set up is simple: four grade school kids play a “killer” game of hide and seek that leads to the accidental death of a classmate. They hush up their crime, and six years later on the night of their senior prom, get their comeuppance from a mysterious killer.
Here are my random musings on Prom Night. These are the types of things that just pop out of my brain when I watch movies.
1. Thankfully this film arrived near the end of “Disco Madness”. But a young Jamie Lee Curtis looked hot hustling across the dance floor. Leslie Nielsen, however, did not look comfortable getting down.
2. Remember when Leslie Nielsen was a dramatic actor? I barely did even then, but it is interesting that the year he tried a slasher flick he also appeared in the zany Airplane!, which launched his comedy career makeover.
3. Those kids grew up too fast in six years. I mean that literally.
4. Did the filmmakers have a sociopolitical statement in mind when Seymour hid a stash of joints inside the book A History Of The American People? Meh, probably not.
5. Early on we witness a dramatic dialogue exchange by the ocean. Many scenes later Seymour’s van plate shows “Ohio”. Clearly I have my geography wrong. Ohio is along the eastern seaboard.
6. Future Sledge Hammer! co-star and Michael Crichton’s future ex-wife, the lovely Anne-Marie Martin, shows up in her last role under the name “Eddie Benton”. Why that name?
7. Girls can be really bitchy to one another. You gals have to stop that.
8. Nothing screams “class” like trying to coerce your beautiful date into having sex at the school on prom night. Prick.
9. Classic juxtaposition: A teen girl accepts a ride to school from a classmate clearly trolling for sex. As they drive off, a “Stop” sign posthumously warns her that that was a dumb idea.
10. Once again, sexually active girls get killed. Slasher movies really are Christian morality tales in disguise.
11. You can knock the killer down with a broom? He ain’t so tough.
12. I love how Seymour’s van drives over a cliff, and the back end explodes just as the front end touches the ground.
13. The pervy school janitor is too clearly a red herring.
14. The subplot involving the police looking for the killer gets weak fast. The lieutenant spends most of his time watching the prom while his unseen underlings hit the streets and desperately look for the killer’s car.
15. How could a severed head on the runaway possibly ruin prom night?
16. Some people consider Prom Night to be a slasher classic. Guess what? It isn’t.
17. I have patience with older movies, but a 90-minute slasher film in which no one gets bumped off for the first hour would never fly today, for better or worse.
18. The opening of the film is creepy. The rest is not scary, even though I wanted it to be.
19. Even though the character development is lacking here, the climax of the film has a surprisingly poignant idea that could have made the film richer had it been exploited more. But ironically it also makes no sense the way it was justified.