There’s a big mar­ket amongst the hor­ror fan­base for spe­cial edi­tion releas­es of ‘80s slash­er films — and said fans have been want­i­ng a spe­cial edi­tion of Prom Night for years.  Synapse is the com­pa­ny that final­ly picked up this gauntlet and the results are a two-fist­ed suc­cess: not only it is the best this film has ever looked on home video, it also offers an array of extras that will make slash­er fans smile.

PromN-bluThe new trans­fer done for this set is, in a word, beau­ti­ful.  Forget the sub­par DVD trans­fers of the past — the 2K restora­tion done for this disc offers a gor­geous image free of defects.  The col­ors are rich, the details are plen­ti­ful and the trans­fer has no prob­lem deal­ing with the hazy, dif­fused style of pho­tog­ra­phy the film favors.  It’s hard to imag­ine any­one doing a bet­ter job with this visu­al­ly tricky title.  In terms of audio, both 2.0 mono and 5.1 stereo remix tracks are offered in loss­less form.  The 5.1 track was used for this review and it’s a good one that adds some choice direc­tion effect­sal and makes great use of the dis­co music dur­ing the prom sce­nes.

The disc also offers an array of extras.  A com­men­tary track fea­tur­ing direc­tor Paul Lynch, screen­writer William Gray and mod­er­a­tor Pan Jankiewicz kicks things off.  Lynch needs lit­tle prompt­ing and dri­ves the track nice­ly, offer­ing thoughts on vir­tu­al­ly every cast mem­ber — it’s inter­est­ing to hear why Robert Silverman played such a small role — and enthu­si­as­tic accounts of how dif­fer­ent sequences were shot.  Gray speaks up on a few script-ori­ent­ed mat­ters, includ­ing heck­ling the added sub­plots he didn’t write, and Jankiewicz offers fan­nish enthu­si­asm (though he gets obnox­ious at times while teas­ing the PromN-05excitable direc­tor).  In short, it’s a brisk track with plen­ty of info and fans won’t be bored lis­ten­ing to it.

The cen­ter­piece of the extras is “Horrors Of Hamilton High,” a 41-min­ute ret­ro­spec­tive inter­view piece on the film from Red Shirt Pictures.  Again, Lynch guides the piece as he reveals how he came up with the con­cept and the way Jamie Lee Curtis sought out her role.  Several cast mem­bers, includ­ing Michael Tough and Mary Beth Rubens, are includ­ed and they all pay trib­ute to the kind­ness of Curtis and the joke­ster pro­cliv­i­ties of Leslie Neilsen (there are many tales of his prank­ish use of a fart noise­mak­er).PromN-Ad

And that’s not all there is to this piece: FX man Warren Keillor trots out the film’s sev­ered head prop to describe how this big effect was done and com­poser Paul Zaza tells a great tale about he end­ed up writ­ing a half-dozen dis­co sounda­like tunes for the score in just five days.  Elsewhere, there are fond trib­utes to the mox­ie of sad­ly depart­ed pro­duc­er Peter Simpson and a fun clos­ing anec­dote from Tough about how his kids have had him trot out the killer’s mask to play the vil­lain at their proms.  It’s a fun, fast-mov­ing piece that slash­er buffs will enjoy.

PromN-06Next up is a bar­rage of pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­al.  The the­atri­cal trail­er is a fun spot that sells both the slash­er and dis­co ele­ments of the film with equal fer­vor and a set of sur­pris­ing­ly ambi­tious t.v. spots all use unique nar­ra­tion and dif­fer­ent sto­ry hooks, with the com­mon themes being prom footage and the men­ac­ing phone caller.  Two 30-sec­ond radio spots bor­row nar­ra­tion from the t.v. spots but use snip­pets of music and dia­logue to crafty effect.  Finally, an impres­sive motion image gallery uses both ver­sions of the film’s killer dis­co the­me tune as back­ing music for an array of stills, lob­by cards from three coun­tries, tv debut ads, the Japanese press­book and even the rare Japanese sound­track album.

Also includ­ed is a series of sce­nes used in the t.v. broad­cast ver­sion of the film, with a video intro from edi­tor Michael Maclaverty to set PromN-VHSup how and why the­se snips were added to the film.  Just under ten min­utes of sce­nes are includ­ed, includ­ing a sub­plot with a daft tem­po­rary sec­re­tary, a few sce­nes designed to cast the mom as a poten­tial killer and a fun red-her­ring bit with Neilsen chop­ping up fire­wood!

The final inclu­sion is an impres­sive 23 min­utes’ worth of out­takes from the film.  These trims most­ly offer alter­nate takes and dif­fer­ent angles for sce­nes in the film, includ­ing lots more of the dis­co and stalk­ing sequences.  You’ll get a good look at how the big decap­i­ta­tion effect was done, a brief glimpse of Lynch direct­ing the finale and a wide shot of the ax-swing­ing dance floor con­fronta­tion that allows you to appre­ci­ate how well it was chore­o­graphed.

In short, Synapse has done well by this cult fave slash­er, dish­ing up a daz­zling trans­fer and plen­ti­ful extras.  If you’re a slash-fanat­ic, bet­ter clear out room on your blu-ray shelf for this edi­tion: it’s the only one you need to own.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Prom Night, click here.