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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prom Night(1980)

Well, it took Netflix 5 days, but they finally sent me this week's slasher flick, the original Prom Night. The recent-ish remake was so dull and bloodless, it felt like a Lifetime Channel movie. Will the original manage to be more interesting? Man, it better! SPOILERS beyond this point...

The film begins by showing an abandoned-looking brick building. As we see countless windows and doors, children can be heard chanting, "The killer is coming, the killer is coming!" Nice game, kids. I'll bet that, instead of playing "House", these little demons play "Manson's House"...

Anyway, now we get to see several random shots of the interior of the building. Is this a movie, or a screensaver? Ah, here's a group of children. A long-haired female faces a wall and counts, as the rest run and hide. After the other kids find hiding spots, the blond girl announces that the killer iks coming to find them.

Inexplicably, the movie decides to switch gears, and we see 2 young girls and a boy walking through a field of tall grass. WTF, movie? Are these new kids, or the same ones, but shown at a different time of day? 2 minutes in, and I'm already confused. That has to be some kind of record. Oddly enough, the boy and one of the girls are dressed in matching outfits. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dummer. The girl, Tweedle Dum, points at the building, where it appears that one of the other kids is standing on a ledge on the second floor. Jump! Jump!

The kid on the ledge is named Nick, and the girl walking with the Dum Twins waves at him, clearly to distract him and make him plummet to his death. Nick just waves her away, and gives her the international sign for, "Shut up, Dumbass, I'm pulling a prank on someone!"

Anyway, the girl dressed differently, Kim, tells the other 2 kids, Robin and Alex to continue home without her. Alex tells Robin to go home with him, but she decides to linger at the building instead. As Robin walks to the front entrance, the credits begin to roll. In addition to Jamie Lee Curtis, this thing apparently also features Frank Drebin himself, Leslie Nielsen!

Robin puts down her schoolbooks, then enters the building. While wandering the halls, she accidentally knocks a door to the ground, and makes a frightened face so exaggerated, it would make blind folks say, "That looks weird."

Another girl, in pigtails, ducks around a corner to hide. Robin nearly finds her, but decides to go back the way she came instead. Robin runs upstairs, and finds another girl sitting on the floor in a gross restroom. Can we give some of these kids names please? Robin runs down another corridor, then hears something crash nearby. She returns to where the girl in pigtails was hiding, only this time she spots her.

A small chase begins, and Robin somehow backs into another hiding kid, a guy in a baseball cap. He loudly alerts the other players that he has Robin in front of him, and all of the children surround her. As they all chant "Kill! Kill!", the frightened girl gets pushed by all of them, until she escapes into the hallway again. They pursue her yet again, until she reaches a dead end.

The 4 others hold hands to form a wall, preventing her any access to another escape route, and Robin backs away, seriously frightened now. She climbs up onto a shelf and pushes herself against a window, only to discover that the window swings outward. Before she can brace herself, Robin falls out of the window, and is killed when she lands on some type of metal frame on the ground. The 4 kids all stare at her corpse in shock.

The 4 kids-Judy, Kelly, Nick and Wendy make a pact, swearing never to tell anyone about the role they played in Robin's death. As they quickly leave the crime scene behind, another pane of glass falls, stabbing the corpse several more times. Geez, it suvcks to be Robin, huh?

Well, maybe the kids are getting away, a shadow passes over poor Robin, and someone inside the building stares at her killers through a window. The mystery person then walks away.

Hey, it's Leslie Nielsen, and it looks like maybe he was the one who found the body. The police are there as well, restraining a woman who Is apparently Robin's mother.

Robin's headstone(her last name is Hammond, by the way...I guess it's a good thing she never met and married a guy named Walter Eggs) gets a nice closeup, and the movie tells us that it's now SIX YEARS LATER!!! Wow, the subtitles are incredibly a brick to the forehead. Robin's mother is at the gravesite, delivering a nice floral arrangement on the anniversary of her daughter's death.

Leslie Nielsen's there too; surely, he must have solved the case(No he didn't, and don't call him Shirley!). Also at the grave are Kim and Alex, who were Robin's siblings. Oh, and the Leslie Nielsen character is their father, as well as the principal of their high school. Wow, this movie is like that 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon" game! Except that the game is actually fun and interesting.

Well, now that we've pruned the Hammond family tree, let's watch them at home. Dad's consoling Mom, while Kim is trying to convince her brother to take her friend Jude to the prom. He reminds her that he won't be much of a date, because he was put in charge of the audio equipment for the prom. Hey, let's leave these dorks behind and check out the school!

Through the magic of wish-granting, we find ourselves transported right outside of Alexander Hamilton Senior High School. While the Hammonds enter the building, Mr. Sykes, the school groundskeeper is whackin' his weeds. Alex and Kim mention to their father that Sykes frightens them, but he dismisses their worries without even a second of hesitation. After they enter the school, Sykes raises his tool, looking even more like a lunatic.

Then there's a montage of rotary phones and cables. I shit you not. Someone actually sat down at a typewriter, wrote a movie script, and exclaimed, "Hey, this movie NEEDS several shots of telephones and telephone cords at extremely close angles! YESSS!"

The anonymous caller decides to contact Jude first. In a raspy whisper, the stalker asks her to come out and play, then promises to see her at the prom. Nope, nothing wrong here! Heck, Jude even smiles at her mother after the call, like she won the lottery or something. Weirdo.

As she leaves home, Jude encounters a fat kid in a van. Apparently, Jude was never warned about guys in vans, because she has a chat with him. His name is Slick, although I would have guessed that he was Willy, and HE needed "Freeing". Defying all logic, Jude gets in the creepy kid's van, and asks him to take her to Hamilton High. I have a feeling that her face might end up on a milk carton by the time the movie ends.

Another of the kids, Kelly(the one with the pigtails as a child), gets a call from the stalker. He doesn't toy with her, simply telling her that she's going to die that night. After the call, her doorbell rings, so she decides that it would be smart to put herself in danger right after somebody just threatened to kill her.

No one's there, of course(of course!), so Kelly shuts the door and backs away, right into the arms of her boyfriend Drew. He looks like Owen Wilson, so I doubt he'll survive the evening. After assuring Kelly that the caller wasn't him, they go to school.

Up next on the killer's call list is Nick, but he refuses to answer his phone. He tells his dad that the call is from his ex-girlfriend, Wendy, who apparently has a stubborn streak. They both laugh over his girl troubles, while the stalker slams the phone down in frustration.

Then we get a flashback. In this one, we're shown that a suspect in Robin's death was found, but was badly injured during a car chase that ended with the suspect on fire. The doctor who treated him believed that they had the wrong guy for the crime, but the cops disagreed.

After that, the deranged patient, named Leonard, escaped from the mental hospital he was sent to, and remained missing. The cop, promoted to lieutenant, asks the doctor if he believes that Leonard might be capable of carrying out his revenge for what happened, but the conversation is interrupted by a phone call: the body of a nurse Leonard had taken as a hostage was found, and she was mutilated.

Next up on the revenge list is Wendy, who thinks that the caller is a prankster that she knows. She tells him to get lost, hangs up, then leaves for school. She seems kind of bitchy, so maybe we'll get lucky, and get to see her die first.

At school, Jude tells the other girls about her van ride. Then Kim catches her maybe-ex kissing another girl, and she refuses to hear his apology. Granted, every 5 feet or so, there seem to be people making out, so maybe that's just how they say hello in this school.

Next up is a crime scene. The lieutenant asks about the body and evidence, Then the cop and another man on the scene discuss whether or not to keep the murder quiet. It's like that scene in Jaws between Chief Brody and the mayor, except that it doesn't make as much sense. I mean, why wouldn't you want people to be more alert when a killer is on the loose?

Back at school, Kim is practicing her dirty dancing all alone. She stops when a spotlight is put on her, by the bitch-queen, Wendy. Wendy tells her that Nick belongs with her instead of with Kim, and they nearly have a classic 1980's catfight-brawl, like the characters on "Dynasty" used to have. But alas, no such luck.

The stalker is then shown cutting the pictures of his victims out of a yearbook. Then we get more jibber-jabber in the school cafeteria about how cool the prom decorations look. A guy in a ski mask then assaults Kim in the lunch line, so Alex steps in to punch the guy out. They fight, and another kid helps the one in the mask by strangling Alex. The fight is eventually broken up by faculty members, who unmask the attacker, who looks like some generic thug. One of the adults calls him by name, something like Farmer or Fowler, but there are no subtitles on this particular DVD, so damned if I know who the heck he is.

The principal calls the thug Lou, so I'm going with that. Lou accuses the principal of going easy on Alex because they're family, but the principal reprimands both of them. Hey, is it just me, or does this movie seem to have a lot of filler? I mean, we're 30 minutes in, and besides the opening murder, the only other person who has died so far was killed offscreen, and discovered later, also offscreen. When do we get to the friggin' prom???

More yammering on about the killer and his motives, followed by more recycled footage. Then we see Kim and Alex talking about how stressful the prom is, since it falls on the anniversary of their sister's death. Alex tries to open up to Kim about his own inner turmoil regarding the death of their sister, but Kim abruptly leaves before he can say a word about the murder.

At a drive-in burger joint, Lou is treated to lunch by Wendy. They seem to be in cahoots to sabotage the prom, or maybe Wendy is just trading sexual favors to greasy men for fast food. Either way, this movie is giving me heartburn.

On a tennis court, Vicki flashes her ass at Sykes. Still no death scenes. Then the girls shower up, and no one dies. This is what a slasher flick written, directed and produced by Buddhist monks would look like. I can't fathom how this monstrosity spawned 3 sequels AND a remake!

Wendy finds a picture of her yearbook photo inside her gym locker, placed by the killer. Yay. Nothing happens, until Kim and one of her friends are scared by someone shattering the wall mirror in front of the sinks. A long, jagged piece of the glass is missing.

While rehearsing something for the prom, Kim and Nick are brought onto the stage. While they practice being crowned King and Queen of the prom, the janitor is seen sweeping up the broken mirror's shards. I hate to say it, but this movie is putting me to sleep. Is the killer stoned or something?

After the rehearsal, Kim thinks she is being chased down the hall. Her two female friends find pictures of themselves in their lockers too, attached to shards of the mirror. Then we FINALLY get to Prom Night. I feel like I've been watching this interminable snoozefest for months.

Kim and Alex compliment each other on how sexy they look, which is kind of pointless and icky, given that they're siblings. Then the doorbell rings. Thank God. It's Nick, who seems mesmerized by a picture of Robin. Then Wendy is picked up by Lou, who also brought along 2 other thugs to tag along.

The prom is very..."disco", for lack of a better description. The murderers are there, the cops are there...Hell, even Slick made it! Yup...a fat kid with a van has now had more screentime than the killer. Wendy and Lou are spotted by Kim, who decides to show them up by putting on an elaborate impromptu disco dance routineandFORFUCKSAKEWILLSOMEBODYPLEASEBEMURDERED?!

Okay, I got it out of my system. I'm better now. The idiotic song they're dancing to is called Prom Night, and just like the film, it meanders and seems endless. Also, and this is just a random thought that occurred to me, but isn't it kind of weird that Kim's brother and her boyfriend look so similar? Makes you wonder if maybe she ever made out with the wrong one.

Yeesh, that song goes on forever. The lieutenant gets an update on our escaped Crispy Critter, and the gist of it is that there is no update. So why the heck did we need that scene in the movie then? Anyway, Kim and her friends decide to check their makeup and hair in the restroom, and have an inane chat about dancing. Was there even an editor for this thing?

Bitchface and Thugboy dance, then she just sort of wanders away. Hilariously, Lou continues his weird caveman gyrations for several more seconds before realizing that his dance partner has vanished.

Then we see 2 teens, Drew and Kelly making out. It all comes to a crashing halt, however, when Drew tries to pressure Kelly into giving him oral sex. He stomps off to find a girl with looser morals, and she stays behind to try to get dressed again.

When he leaves, the stalker finally shows up.He sneaks up behind Kelly, then uses one of the shards of glass to slit her throat. It's about time, man. In a nice touch, the screen goes red, which segues back to the prom.

Out in Slick's van, he and Jude are making the beast with 2 backs, if you catch my drift. The killer waits outside, until Slick exits the van to pee. After peeing, Slick lets Jude talk him into moving their lovemaking session to "the bluff". They do, and the killer follows.

Slick hears a twig snap, and suggests that they return to the safety of the van. While Slick shows Jude his hiding place for pot, the killer gets closer and closer. As the unlikely couple promise to remember prom night for the rest of their lives, the killer, dressed head to toe in a black body suit, swings open the double doors of the van, and Jude's heads falls back. The killer swings a mirror shard at her neck before she can even react.

Slick pushes the killer out of the van, then hops in the front to drive Jude to the hospital. The killer regains his footing, and grabs the open window next to Slick. As Slick swerves around to try to shake the killer off of the van, he crashes the van over a cliff. Hilariously, the van starts to burn up BEFORE it hits the rocks below the cliff. I guess the van was suicidal.

In the sickest, most inhumane, perverse moment of the film thus far, we're forced to watch and listen to more Disco Fever crap. Then Wendy enters the restrookm by herself, to re-apply her makeup. Someone else slips in as she's distracted...hmmm, I wonder what will happen?

The killer shuts off the lights, then sneaks up on Wendy with an axe. He misses, and the weapon gets stuck in the countertop next to the sink. Wendy runs away, and the killer pries the weapon loose before chasing her. Wendy tries calling out for help, but the music in the auditorium drowns her out, so she decides to keep running.

She ends up in a dark gymnasium, then gets to a stairwell. The killer spots her, so Wendy dodges into a classroom, some kind of science or health class. When she sees the killer's shadow outside the door, she swiftly ducks under a desk and waits.

The killer opens the door, gets the arm holding the axe inside the class, then changes his mind. He backs away and shuts the door, so Wendy stands up and decides to walk backwards to the rear exit of the class, if there is one. She backs herself right into an anatomy dummy, and it crashes to the floor. Great. She's not just bitchy, she's also dumber than a sack of doorknobs.

The noise brings the killer running back in, and Wendy rushes through the other exit. After another chase down the stairs, Wendy finds herself in the school's auto shop class. She tries a set of doors that lead outside, but they're locked tight. Then she searches for an unlocked car, finds one, and ducks under the steering column on the floor of the vehicle.

For a few seconds nothing happens...then, the killer enters the area. He begins to examine each vehicle, before using his axe to shatter the passenger window of the car Wendy is hiding in. She tries to get away yet again, but with all the locked exits throughout the school, her choices are limited. As she stands in a janitorial supply closet, we see almost subliminal shots of a red stain on a white floor. Weird.

She waits for the killer to either pass by the closet or find her, and then she sees the red stain on the floor too. A red trail ends at the dangling, bloody arm of what used to be Kelly, and Wendy screams her head off. She flings open the closet door to escape, and the killer is right there, waiting with his axe. He swings the blade, though most of her death remains off-camera. Damn.

The lieutenant meets another cop, who informs him that the escaped mental patient/burn victim was apprehended. They both celebrate, and the lieutenant leaves. Then Kim is told that it's almost time to crown the King and Queen of the prom, but her father has gone missing. In a nice bit of irony, the song playing is the disco classic, "I'm Still Alive". Heh, maybe the writers deserve more credit than I gave them.

Well, before anyone is given a chance to worry about the principal's disappearance, it's time to begin the crowning ceremony. If the procession music is more disco, I'm going to do what the hero did in that Val Kilmer crapfest a few weeks ago, and shove sharp object into my ears. Oh, and Lou pulls his 2 thugs aside and tells them that it's time to start their sabotage. The pair sneak backstage and knock out Nick, and Lou prepares to take his place. Wait, was that the entire plan? Geez, this is the most unambitious film ever made.

Also waiting backstage is the killer. As both Lou and Kim wait at opposite ends of the stage for their cue to step out, the killer gets right behind Lou and decapitates him, sending the crown in one direction, and Lou's severed head in the opposite direction. I actually paused the film on that exact moment to write this paragraph, and the special effect is really phenomenal-looking. I'll bet that this scene was where most of the effects budget went.

Kim walks onto the stage, and Lou's head rolls out beside her. The crowd flips out, and everyone starts running and screaming. Kim goes backstage again to find Nick, who is woozy, but alive. They stagger off the stage toward an exit, only to be blocked by the killer.

The frightened couple back away, then fall on their asses. As Nick and the killer struggle over possession of the axe, Kim tries throwing a chair at the maniac. The killer cuts off Nick's oxygen by pressing the handle of the weapon into the poor guy's windpipe, so Kim decides to jump on his back. He throws her off, but also loses the axe, which goes sliding underneath a table. Kim scurries under the table to find it.

With Kim distracted, the killer decides to finish off her date first. They roll around on the dance floor, until Kim returns with the axe. She hesitates, then swings the blade at the killer's face. He weakly crawls away, as Kim checks on her boyfriend.

They watch in horror as the killer staggers back to his feet, and turns to face them. He glares at Kim for several seconds, and she gets a sinking feeling about his identity. Then the killer runs away. Being idiots, they follow him outside.

Luckily, the cops have arrived. The killer sees the frightened crowd, the cops, and Kim, and begins to have flashbacks to the day of the cover-up. Kim asks them not to shoot, then catches the killer as he collapses. Removing the mask reveals that the killer is actually Kim's own brother, Alex(my money was on their father). He begins to sob, explaining to his sister that the others deserved to die for what they did as children. Then, as Kim holds him, Alex dies in her arms. Nice downer ending. THE END

Well, that was pretty terrible. Almost nothing happens for the first hour, then we get an ending that manages to be depressing as heck. Plus, we never did get to find out where Kim's father went. Was he killed? Did he get bored and go home? They should do a second remake, up the body count(or at least put a few in the first half of the film), repair all the plotholes, and get rid of the disco. Now THAT would make for a good Prom Night film! 2 killer trees out of 5, and the only thing that earned it the second star was the rush of kills in the last half hour. I hope they learned something about pacing and timing from this one.

And what did I learn after watching Prom Night?

-Disco is cruel and unusual.

-Having a van is the quickest way to get laid. In other news, I'm buying a van.

-A killer who has a specific vendetta in mind always has time to kill a few random nobodies as well.

Coming in later this week is Candyman, featuring the great Tony Todd. That one should be good, the character didn't really start to suck until around the third film.. See ya then!