Released in 1980, the Prom Night
opens with the unfortunate death of a child, when a group of kids playing a variation of hide-and-seek in an abandoned building teases a girl and she falls from a window. The kids never told anyone what happened and the little girl's death was blamed on Leonard Murch, a psychopathic child molester 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
, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss
and Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil
, and a loose remake
, which was released in 2008.
This film has the examples of:
- Accidental Murder: Robin's death
- Action Girl: Kim when the killer goes after Nick.
- Adorkable: Slick
- 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
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Poor Alex
- Asshole Victim: Wendy and Lou.
- Auto Erotica: Jude and Slick use the van to have some good time by the bluffs.
- An Axe to Grind: Killer's weapon of choice towards the end of the original film.
- Betty and Veronica: Kim and Wendy.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Easygoing Alex who seems perfectly happy helping with the lighting at the prom rather than attending with a date.
- 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 Slick he says that he guessed about it, as he sees poorly without his glasses.
- Book Safe: Where Slick keeps his joints.
- Bound and Gagged: Nick after being attacked by Lou and his goons.
- Cassandra Truth: Sykes tries to warn the partiers about the killer, but he is drunk and is taken away.
- Chairman of the Brawl: Kim throws a chair at the killer during the climactic confrontation.
- Chekhov's Gun: Lou's ski mask.
- Children Are Cruel: Robin dies due to the teasing of the other kids in the opening.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Wendy to Nick.
- Crusty Caretaker: Mr. Sykes, the janitor of Hamilton High.
- Cute Bookworm: Jude
- Daddy's Girl: Kim
- Dark Secret: The children who accidentally kill Robin vow to tell no one. They don't realize someone else figured out what happened.
- Deadpan Snarker: Wendy at times.
- Death by Sex: Jude and Slick's 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.
- Dramatic Unmask: The killer is unmasked as he lays dying on the ground.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Wendy tells Lou she doesn't want their prank to seriously hurt anyone.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Slick's van explodes immediately after it rides off the bluffs.
- Everyone Is a Suspect
- 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.
- It does, however, feature a final boy with Nick, the only target to live. All 3 female targets die
- Follow the Leader: Came in the wake of Halloween (1978), also starring Jamie Lee Curtis
- Fragile Flower: Kelly
- 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.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday
- Improvised Weapon: The killer breaks a mirror in girls' chainging 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.
- Little "No": Kim lets out one when she realizes who the killer is.
- Love Triangle: Wendy loves Nick, but Nick loves Kim and Wendy isn't happy about it.
- Male Gaze: We get two gratuitous ass-shots.
- Man on Fire: Leonard Murch in McBride's flashbacks.
- Mooning: One girl moons Sykes when he is 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.
- Off with His Head!: Lou's head is knocked off with an axe.
- Once is Not Enough: Wendy knocks out the killer with a broom, and runs away when he keels over.
- 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.
- Police Are Useless: 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, is the only one who survives.
- Red Herring: The escaped psychopath Leonard Murch, Mr. Sykes and Kim's father.
- Rich Bitch: Wendy, again.
- Sarcastic Clapping: Wendy gives it to Kim after witnessing her practicing her moves on the dance floor.
- 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's death.
- 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.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Alex.