As any self-respecting horror fan knows, the Canadian slasher PROM NIGHT represents one third of the Jamie Lee Curtis trifecta of 1980 (THE FOG and TERROR TRAIN being the others). It’s an okay flick, but managed to be surprise hit, catching the first curl of the slasher wave and having the teen scream queen headlining didn’t hurt.
It also spawned three in-name-only sequels (as well as a heartbreaking cash cow remake in 2008). To wit:
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990)
Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil (1992)
Though all the plots center around a prom of some sort, none of these “sequels” relate directly to the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis slasher flick. Instead, the next two movies in the series follow the exploits of slattern-literally-from-hell Mary Lou Maloney, who seeks vengeance upon those who robbed her of her rightful place among the corsages that fateful night. A supernatural thriller more than slasher, Part II features a smashing lead performance from Wendy Lyon as the Mary Lou-possessed protagonist and some startling visual effects (the blackboard stunt is awesome, as is the locker room sequence). PMIII is more of the same, though not nearly as inspired or gory. The last movie returns to its slasher roots, with a fanatical priest targeting impure co-eds out for a good time. The biggest problem is that too much time is spent with the main foursome of would-be victims without actually developing characterization (no mean feat, that). There are a couple decent kills, but overall fails to hold one’s attention.
Prom Night (2008) (1st viewing)
Trying to make a PG-13 slasher movie seems like an exercise in futility to begin with, but further lousing up the fun is the excessive emotional hand-wringing that the film does after each victim is discovered. For better or worse, body count movies are supposed to be fun. Watching someone agonize in numerous scenes over the loss of their high school boyfriend or girlfriend is not fun (nor, dare I say, interesting, especially when the acting talent is this slim). Couple this with the fact that we know who the killer is from the get-go and the results are thoroughly unsatisfying. Luckily, I had no illusions to the contrary, so the disappointment barely registered.