PROM NIGHT (1980) / COMPOSER: PAUL ZAZA, CARL ZITTRER / LABEL: PERSEVERANCE RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Here’s an interesting soundtrack release to say the least.
It’s the soundtrack to the original Prom Night, the classic 1980 slasher film starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen – a pretty generic and formulaic film, very much the product of its time which would no doubt have slipped into obscurity despite its three lacklustre sequels, had it not been remade in 2008. It’s a film that many have heard of, but few have seen, or remember.
Its cinematic release was so subdued that there was never an accompanying release of a soundtrack album, which is a shame – because apart from seeing Curtis as possibly the world’s oldest looking teenager since Steve McQueen in The Blob, the music is probably one of the more memorable and enjoyable elements of the movie. (The film itself soon lapses into every cliched trope of the eighties slasher fad). But the score and the songs composed by Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer are worthy of a decent release – which is now available for the first time almost forty years later.
The album is divided into four sections. The actual score, score music and cues not used in the film, the song and the songs not used in the film. The score itself is mainly strings, the higher the pitch, the greater the tension of course – with some flute music denoting some flashback sequences. One needn’t actually check the production date of the movie to know that this is definitely an eighties film, it’s right there in the music. Same with genre – the use of strings is very reminiscent of Friday the 13th, which was released around the same time. But it’s a great nostalgic blast to those films that made us jump out of our seats at the cinemas back then.
Now, the songs. As the bulk of the film takes place on a prom night with a killer on the loose in the high school, the atrocities committed are set to a funky disco backbeat which is a little surreal. As this was a low budget film, the producers couldn’t afford the rights to the actual popular disco hits of the day, so all original material was commissioned with the catch that it should sound very similar to what was dominating the charts back then (not a hard task, given the limitations of the disco genre) but again, the composers did their job very effectively and there are several songs here that you feel subconsciously you’ve heard somewhere before.
So, a strange mixture of slasher strings and boogie-on-down disco. A weird mix, to be sure – but this curiosity of a CD actually works and has a repeat listening value. (We’ve had it on repeat in the office.)