No one expects anything from Sony’s week away remake of 1980’s PROM NIGHT directed by Nelson McCormick. The flick was a non-issue. I’ve seen the trailer, may as well have seen the movie. I was resigned to seeing it out of review obligation. A simple enough plan until I read Callum Waddell’s piece on the film in the April issue of Fangoria and proceeded to be awestruck by the tsunami of stupidity pouring forth from producer/writer J.S. Cardone and director McCormick. I read their ruminations on the genre and the inventiveness of their “psychological thriller” (Cardone’s own words) while staring at the glossy production images furnished for Fango, each still looking like the ‘cast’ of “THE HILLS” with a slightly agape jaw.
Something started to happen to me during all of this. It was as if each sentence was daring me to see PROM NIGHT. The film’s release this Friday is no longer a non-issue. I won’t be buying a ticket for a movie, I will be purchasing admission to a cage match. I don’t want to see PROM NIGHT anymore (not that I did before), I want to beat the shit out of it. And when I pull some of the Fango quotes in a few seconds, you’ll understand just why I want to hold PROM NIGHT’s face to a belt sander.
Mayhaps I am out of order attacking the directorial hand of Nelson McCormick having not seen his television work (maybe his “V.I.P.” eps CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN VAL or AQUA VALVA are required to understand the man), but his pitch of the film makes me wish he went back to “THIRD WATCH”. He describes things about PROM NIGHT with pride, I’ll give ‘em that, but misplaced pride. Almost as if he is bragging:
“The prom needs to feel like an awards night. When the time comes to pick the prom king and queen, it’s going to feel just like Best Actor awards at the Oscars [laughs]. We’re going to have someone say, ‘And the nominations are…'”
Holster that razor wit, PROM NIGHT, before someone gets cut so bad they wish they never been cut so bad.
“We don’t even have a band playing at our dance,” he notes. “We just have a DJ. We will have contemporary and fun stuff in the background as well, but in terms of the score, HIGH TENSION was an influence. The music for this movie really has to foreshadow or telegraph what is going to happen, and there wasn’t much of a score in HIGH TENSION – just sudden, effective sounds.”
Oh, good. So the characters are going to be as valuable as the kooze on any given episode of “MY SUPPER SWEET SIXTEEN” and the only non-Clear Channel music in PROM NIGHT is going to be someone having a seizure in a pile of cymbals. Not only that, but why would you want your score to “telegraph what is going to happen”? Why would you want to telegraph anything in a genre that cherishes suspense? And since when has the word telegraph been used post-millennium in a non-derogatory way? PROM NIGHT is not THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Phone in it, McCormick, just like everything else in this movie.
“The first PROM NIGHT worked within its context,” he continues, “but it was a truncated story, and we tried to go in a totally different direction. They had two converging plotlines in the original – one was the prom where Jamie Lee Curtis was the most beautiful girl there, and then you had the killer who was stalking her and her friends. As far as ours goes, you have the murders, a police investigation – which slasher films have not traditionally featured – and more psychology. The 1980 movie was about revenge, and we didn’t want to take that route. Our killer is just obsessed with getting to Donna, and it’s more Hitchcockian in that sense”
First off, this goes directly against the earlier statement, “We’re not really venturing into the slasher genre – instead, we wanted to approach this as a psychological thriller.” But I’ll give that goofy hypocrisy a pass, because by Gods PROM NIGHT is breaking slasher tradition with unheralded bravery! A police investigation. How novel! I wonder why John Carpenter or Wes Craven never thought of that. Oh. Wait. And that Hitchcock remark? Christ… And is it just me or did he just burn Jamie Lee Curtis?
Regarding the film’s mandated PG-13 rating and the subsequent harder cut for the DVD:
“But they have found that right now there are two basic audiences for horror. One is the more jaded group that loves HOSTEL, and the other is female, which we really discovered with the success of THE OTHERS and THE GRUDGE.” There is a strong core audience of young women for this film, and what they want, God love them, is something intelligent as opposed to something incredibly violent. I’m not saying that PROM NIGHT is just a chick flick, because it’s not, but there’s a great female presence in the film, and a lot of depth and texture.”
Two basic audiences for horror? You either love HOSTEL or you have a vagina? What the fuck kind of ignorant statement is that?
The people behind this movie are just begging me to hate it. Begging me and I haven’t even dropped the quote about the film’s funny vignettes edited into a virtual yearbook montage. Walking in to PROM NIGHT is going to be entering Thunderdome. Only one of us can walk out alive. I’ll either be writing the angriest review I ever have or the most apologetic one. Smart money, aka not the $18 million invested in PROM NIGHT, is on the former.