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Corsages, Murder — It Was a 'Prom Night' to Die For

''Prom Night'''s successful debut -- Brittany Snow's thriller may inspire other horror movie remakes

There was no pig's blood spilling from the rafters, but last weekend's Prom Night was still one to remember. The remake of a second-rate horror flick from 1980 starring Jamie Lee Curtis — updated with a new teen cast and less embarrassing dresses — slashed the competition. Its $21 million haul was the best bow for a screamer in the last six months.

Credit Screen Gems, Sony Pictures' low-budget genre arm, which is making a killing by removing the gore and violence from campy, semi-forgotten horror movies. (They're removing the stars, too: Prom Night's biggest name was Brittany Snow.) In 2006, a suspense-heavy version of 1979's When a Stranger Calls made $48 million. Even before Prom Night's major success with teenage girls, the studio had been planning tamer (read: PG-13) versions of the 1987 chiller The Stepfather with Gossip Girl's Penn Badgley, along with updates of 1981's Hell Night and 1985's Fright Night. ''If you are going to make a movie for a bunch of kids, you have to make it PG-13,'' says Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper. ''You try not to make a movie for an audience that is older than your protagonist.'' With torture-porn franchises like Saw and Hostel wearing out their welcome, these remakes are likely to keep girls screaming in theaters — and Screen Gems screaming all the way to the bank.

Originally posted Apr 18, 2008 Published in issue #988-989 Apr 25, 2008 Order article reprints
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