Before The Naked Gun, Leslie Nielsen Stars In Horror Slasher Fan Favorite

By Brian Myers | Published

Leslie Nielsen is most remembered for his slapstick comedy films where he often played an aloof character that delivered more dry lines than a grounds crew at a baseball game. But before his role as Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun and his dozens of action/horror spoofs in the 1990s and early 2000s, Nielsen co-starred in what many horror fans consider to be one of the greatest slasher films in the early days of the genre. Prom Night (1980) stands out as a massive influence on the direction that horror took over the next decade, and serves as a reminder that Nielsen was capable of doing a lot more on-screen than just delivering one-liners.

Prom Night Stars With A Tragic Accident

Prom Night opens with several children sneaking inside an abandoned convent to play hide-and-seek. When 11-year-old Robin falls to her death in an accident, the children swear an oath never to tell anyone that they were there. But there’s the shadow of an unknown figure lurking in the background who witnessed the incident, unbeknownst to the other children.

Picked Off One By One

Prom Night fast forwards six years to when the surviving children are all high schoolers preparing for their prom. One by one, the teenage children who witnessed Robin’s death are brutally killed by an assailant in a ski mask. Each death is more elaborate than the prior one, the mounting death tolls and murder sequences giving the film a well-deserved reputation of being one of the first slasher films.

Leslie Nielsen Plays The Principal

Leslie Nielsen co-stars as the high school’s principal. Joining him in the cast is a young Jamie Lee Curtis, playing the part of Robin’s elder sister. Prom Night was the third horror film to star Curtis, preceded by Halloween (1978) and The Fog (1980), helping cement her role as an iconic scream queen.

Prom Night Is One Of The Best ’80s Slashers

Prom Night contains all the elements to make it worthy of a true slasher film. It’s a horror film with a masked killer, gory kill sequences, and a list of suspects that will keep you guessing until the very end. The acting is a bit elevated beyond what you might expect out of a B-movie, and the storyline is so much more intriguing than many of the slasher films that followed.

How To Watch Prom Night


What makes Prom Night stand out among slasher films is that there is an actual plot. While many in this genre use contrived devices to gather victims in one place so that they can be hacked to pieces by the film’s antagonist, Prom Night carries an element of mystery that balances out the gore. Add that attribute in with the fact that it influenced so many 1980s slashers that followed, and you’ll see why I believe it is deserving of a four-star rating.

Prom Night spawned three sequels, with each subsequent entry less interesting than its predecessor. In 2008, a bigger-budget remake was released in theaters. This proved to be a box office success, raking in $57.2 million over its $20 million budget.

Prom Night is available to stream for subscribers on Peacock and Prime. The slasher film is also able to be streamed for free on Vudu, Tubi, and Kanopy.