Film: Prom Night (1980)

"The killer is coming!"

Released in 1980, the Prom Night opens with a unfortunate death of a child, caused by a group of kids playing a variation of hide-and-seek in an abandoned building teasing a girl, leading her to fall from a window. The kids never told anyone what happened and the little girl's death was blamed on Leonard Murch, a psychopathic sex fiend who is caught shortly after.

Several years later, students of Hamilton High are preparing for prom. But unbeknownst to them, a masked killer looking for revenge has invited himself to it.

The film features Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen in starring roles. Nowadays, the film is mostly remembered for its disco soundtrack, which is sought out by collectors. It was also popular enough to receive three sequels; Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987), Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990) and Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (1992). A loose remake was also released in 2008.

This film has the examples of:

  • Adorkable: Slick. Despite being less smooth than his nickname would imply, he still manages to win Jude over.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted, as all the girls are repulsed by Lou. Good girl Kim and bad girl Wendy are in fact rivals for good boy Nick.
  • Alpha Bitch: Wendy was this right from childhood as she manipulated a group of other kids to keep an accidental death of Robin a secret. She grows up to be a very straight example of this, as she's openly jealous of Kim being voted Prom Queen and taking her boyfriend Nick. She then attempts to win her man back and sabotage the prom.
  • Asshole Victim: Wendy and Lou, who conspire to ruin the prom crowning of Nick and Kim for their own ends.
  • Auto Erotica: Jude and Slick use the latter's van to have some good time by the bluffs.
  • An Axe to Grind: Killer's weapon of choice for killing his targets in the prom.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The disco themed prom is ruined by the killer scaring everyone off by decapitating Lou, and then attacking the Prom King.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Easygoing Alex, who seems perfectly happy helping with the lighting at the prom rather than attending with a date.
  • Big Bad: The killer, who turns out to be Alex Hammond, who is seeking to avenge the death of his sister Robin.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Lou, a Type I unibrow sporter due to being an asshole.
  • Blind Without 'Em: When Jude comments about the amount of the stars in the night sky to Slick, he replies that he guessed about it, as he sees poorly without his glasses.
  • Book Safe: Slick keeps his joints in a hollowed history book.
  • Bound and Gagged: Nick tied up with tape and left hidden in a corner of a backstage after being attacked by Lou and his goons.
  • Cassandra Truth: Sykes tries to warn the partiers about the killer, but he is so drunk that he is taken away to the police.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Kim throws a chair at the killer during the climactic confrontation.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lou's ski mask that Principal Hammond throws into a garbage bin later appears worn by the killer.
  • Children Are Cruel: Robin dies due to the teasing of the other kids in the opening.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Mr. Sykes, the janitor of Hamilton High is a weird guy who stares at the girls creepily.
  • Dark Secret: The children who accidentally kill Robin vow to tell no one. They don't realize someone else figured out what happened.
  • Death by Sex: Averted with Kelly, who is killed just after she chickens out on going thorugh with the deed with her boyfirend Drew. Played straight with Jude and Slick, whose first time turns out to be their last.
  • Destination Defenestration: Robin dies as she accidentally falls through a window in the opening.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Over an hour is used to build up the characters before the killer off his first victim.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The killer is unmasked as he lays dying on the ground in the ending.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Wendy tells Lou she doesn't want their prank to ruin the prom crowning to seriously hurt anyone.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Slick's van explodes immediately after it rides over the edge of the bluffs.
  • Final Girl: Kim is built up to be one, but it is then subverted when it's revealed that she wasn't a target at all.
    • The film does, however, feature a final boy with Nick, the only target to live. All three female targets die.
  • Follow the Leader: Came in the wake of Halloween (1978), also starring Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Grave Marking Scene: The first scene after the Time Skip is the Hammond family visiting Robin's grave.
  • Harassing Phone Call: The killer makes threatening phone calls to his soon-to-be victims.
  • Improvised Weapon: The killer breaks a mirror in girls' changing room, and uses one of its shards to kill Kelly.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in the opening, as it opens with the accidental death of Robin.
  • Lady in Red: Wendy's outfit for the prom is a glittery red dress.
  • Little "No": Kim lets out one when she realizes that the killer is her brother Alex.
  • Love Triangle: Wendy loves Nick, but Nick loves Kim and Wendy isn't happy about it.
  • Male Gaze: We get two gratuitous shots of camera following femal character's behind.
  • Man on Fire: Leonard Murch in McBride's flashbacks is shown leaving his crashed and flaming car while on fire.
  • Match Cut: The shot of Kelly's slashed throat is immediately followed by one of a bowl of red punch.
  • Mooning: One of Kim's friends moons Sykes when she sees him picking up trash next to the tennis court.
  • My Greatest Failure: Nick is racked with guilt over his role in Robin's death six years earlier.
  • Neutral Female: Averted. When the killer goes after Nick, Kim does everything in her power to stop him, which ultimately leads to his death.
  • Off with His Head!: Lou's head is knocked off with an axe as he waits behind the curtains to become the prom king. His head then rolls to the view of the prom attendants, who promptly panic and leave the premises in a hurry.
  • Once Is Not Enough: Wendy makes a run out of the auto shop and knocks out the killer with a broom in the process, and keeps going when he falls to the floor in pain.
  • Oral Fixation: Lou is constantly chewing gum.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: Wendy gives out her location to the killer when she is startled by Kelly's corpse dropping from a shelf in the closet that she is hiding in.
  • Police Are Useless: Lt. McBride is present at the prom obsessing over the wrong suspect while the real killer is offing prom attenders practically under his nose.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Principal Hammond tells Lou that he a disgrace to the school and the community before suspending him "indefinitely."
  • Redemption Equals Life: Nick, the only one of Robin's tormentors who seems to feel any guilt about her death is the only one who survives the film.
  • Red Herring: The escaped psychopath Leonard Murch (who got the blame for Robin's death six years ago), the weird Mr. Sykes and Kim's father, who conveniently disappears once the killings around the schoolgrounds are discovered.
  • Rich Bitch: Wendy, as evident by the huge house she lives in, her nice car and offhand remarks of buying things.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Wendy gives one to Kim after witnessing her practicing her moves on the dance floor, followed by her threatening to take Nick away from her.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Robin's photo accompanied by flowers and her teddy bear are displayed on the mantlepiece in the Hammonds' living room.
  • Slashed Throat: Kelly meets her death by getting her throat cut with a mirror shard.
  • Speech Impediment: Robin's stammer—possibly why she is ostracized by the other children.
  • The Stoner: Slick. He may not have the looks, but he makes up for it with weed.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The film was among the first Slasher Movies released in the eighties, and it contains some of the typical cliches (the title, death by decapitation, a masked killer etc.) of the era. However, the Unbuiltness is evident by its killer, who isn't silent, slow-walking or a heavy damage shrugging monstrosity. Instead, he's some guy in a ski mask who makes mistakes like any other person would (at one point he rushes after his victim, and in the hurry forgets his axe) and is ultimately defeated by a blow to the head with a blunt instrument.
  • Villain Song: The end credits song "Fade to Black." Listen closely to the lyrics.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We are not told where Kim's dad has disappeared to in the end of the movie.