The Prom Night Series
Prom Night (June 12/08)
Unusually incompetent from start to finish, Prom Night possesses few attributes designed to capture (and subsequently hold) one's interest - with the egregiously deliberate pace and complete lack of compelling characters certainly ranking as the film's most overt deficiencies. The movie opens with a baffling scene involving several little kids who essentially scare one of their own to death, with the remainder of the proceedings revolving around the build-up to a high-school prom - where, as expected, a mysterious figure starts knocking off attractive teens. There's little doubt that Prom Night's status as a particularly blatant rip-off of Halloween is cemented early on, as screenwriter William Gray - in addition to employing virtually the same structure as John Carpenter's seminal 1978 slasher - has peppered the film with a relentless stream of elements that hearken back to its enormously superior predecessor (including, of course, the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis within the supporting cast). Even if one were willing to overlook such similarities, however, Prom Night would still come off as an entirely underwhelming horror effort - as the interminable running time has been padded out with a variety of utterly superfluous scenes and subplots (ie a dance sequence that goes on and on and on). And though it's bad enough that the first kill doesn't come until the one-hour mark, Prom Night's downfall is ultimately secured by its unconscionable lack of gore (ie without bloody instances of mayhem, what's the point?)
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (June 14/08)
As ineffective as its lackluster predecessor, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II opens with a surprisingly effective prologue in which '50s floozy Mary Lou Maloney is burned alive on prom night. Thirty years later, Mary Lou - in the form of virginal student Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon) - returns to wreak vengeance on the man responsible for her untimely death (Michael Ironside's Bill Nordham). The degree to which Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II incorporates elements from other, better horror movies is nothing short of absurd, as screenwriter Ron Oliver peppers the proceedings with shamefully overt nods to such thematically-similar efforts as The Exorcist, Carrie, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. With the exception of a few admittedly creative set pieces (ie Vicki is sucked into a blackboard), there's subsequently exceedingly little here that one hasn't seen countless times before - with the conspicuous lack of gore only exacerbating the film's various problems. And while Ironside delivers as compelling a performance as one might've expected, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II ultimately suffers from a pervadingly tedious vibe that cements its place as an entirely underwhelming sequel.
Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (June 18/08)
There's little doubt that Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, which is easily as ineffective as its two predecessors, suffers from a pervadingly tedious vibe that's exacerbated by the inclusion of an entirely uninteresting lead character, with the end result an exceedingly awful endeavor that often seems to be daring the viewer to keep watching. Tim Conlon stars as Alex Grey, an average high schooler who finds himself in a whole mess of trouble after befriending the ghost of murdered prom queen Mary Lou Maloney (Courtney Taylor). Infused with an egregiously slow-moving sensibility, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss remains an unusually mundane experience throughout its primarily interminable running time - although, to be fair, the film does boast a few appreciatively imaginative deaths (ie Mary Lou dispatches a hapless teacher with a hand mixer to the face). Such mildly watchable kill sequences are ultimately few and far between the film's long stretches of sheer tedium, however, and there's little doubt that the utterly nonsensical finale - which hardly makes a lick of sense - ensures that Prom Night III: The Last Kiss concludes on as anticlimactic a note as one could possibly imagine.
Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (July 6/08)
The Prom Night series comes to a close with this expectedly ineffective entry, which - oddly enough - has absolutely nothing to do with its three predecessors (a brief reference to Hamilton High is about the extent of it). Saddled with a completely styleless and bland visual sensibility, the movie follows four interchangeable teens (Nicole de Boer's Meagan, J.H. Wyman's Mark, Joy Tanner's Laura, and Alle Ghadban's Jeff) as they embark on a weekend of fun and debauchery at a desolate cabin - where they're eventually stalked by a demented priest (James Carver's Father Jonas) whose modus operandi is never made entirely clear (aside from the fact that he really, really hates teenagers). Screenwriter Richard Beattie initially places a pronounced (and entirely unwarranted) emphasis on the exploits of Carver's egregiously pointless character, and there's subsequently little doubt that one's patience is continually tested by the interminable series of sequences revolving around his almost hilariously over-the-top shenanigans. The film only worsens as it progresses, as director Clay Borris includes exceedingly few elements designed to hold the viewer's interest - with one notable exception being a scene in which one of the teens momentarily thwarts her pursuer with the old bug-spray-to-the-face trick.