Prom Night Collection
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Prom Night Collection

Many high schools in United States the parent might hope that their children use the years prepare for the all-important process of college applications. More likely than not, a significant number of those kids use those years anticipating a single night, The Prom. I attended an all-boys school driven by technical studies rather there was only minimal emphasis on the usual adolescent social events. However, from what I understand about coed schools, this is a night that students anticipate for four years, albeit for different reasons; the girls are anticipating a magical night fancy gown, elaborate hair and makeup and a chauffeur driven limousine. On the other hand, the boys are counting upon it different from tradition; sex. While the commencement ceremony with caps and gowns and proud parents in the audience is the actual completion of high school, it is prom night that most consider to be the true détournement of the transition between childhood and being an adult. In many movies with the high school years all the angst and drama eventually leans to a grand climax on prom night. Among the myriad of examples of this genre classics as single as ‘Footloose’, ‘Teen Wolf’ and undoubtedly the most infamous crime in history, ‘Carrie’. There is a franchise of hollow films that most would delegate to the status of second-tier, ‘Prom Night’.’ With your original being released in 1980 followed by three sequels over the next dozen years and a remake in 2008, this is one of the more relatable specific date driven serial killer sprees in horror, although not on par with Halloween or the dreaded Friday the 13th.

Prom Night (1980)           

Director: Paul Lynch

Writer: William Gray

Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis/Leslie Nielsen/Antoinette Bower

Utilizing a plot device that is exceptionally common in horror, the opening scene takes us back in time to run the principal cast only around 11 years old. Every neighborhood has a certain building, person or street that has established a foreboding reputation over time. While there is really anything substantial behind the rumors that desist from one generation to the next, the inevitably become a rite of passage with slightly older children using it to torment kids only a grade or two behind them. Here we watch as a group of kids playing hide and go seek and abandon convent. When one of the less popular kids tries to join them, the others start taunting her by shouting in unison "kill, kill". From our sensibilities as an adult we may have a tendency to forget that this is exactly how cruel children of that age can be, the girl, Robin Hammond (Tammy Bourne), is forced backwards crashes toward window falling to her death. The others eventually grow up to be the teenagers at the center of the story; Jude Cunningham (Joy Thompson), Kelly Lynch (Mary Beth Rubens), and Nick McBride (Casey Stevens). Also a member of the graduating class but outside lethal cabal is Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis), Robin sister and their brother, Alex (Michael Tough). It is now six years later in 1980 and Mia senior prom is rapidly approaching. Kim’s brother and sister, and the threatening phone calls begin that steadily escalates into the individuals responsible for the death of picked off one by one. A requisite part of a high school film of this time with the inclusion of drugs, most commonly marijuana and sex. The flick remains true to form providing the expected salacious content.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)       

Director: Bruce Pittman

Writer: Ron Oliver

Stars: Michael Ironside/Lisa Schrage/Wendy Lyon

This is a sequel only in the sense that there are some common elements to the original including teenagers, prom night and gruesome death. This tale takes us back to 1957 where seventeen year-old Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) is confessing her sins to the local priest. The litany includes rather mundane disobeying parents, taking the Lord’s name in vain and in ‘sinful relations’ with boys. If a typical teenage girl from any series on the CW was in that confessional surely the priests head would explode. They get a bit of a glimpse into just how far away from the innocent schoolgirl archetype Mary Lou actually is. Before she leaves the confessional she informs the priest that she loved every minute of it and slips him a note that reads; "all good time call Mary Lou". Consistent with the level of teenage antics in the late 50s the hijinks the boys get into includes letting a stink bomb backstage in the auditorium. Things go terribly wrong with the teacher approaches and the boys responsible towards the device in the trash. It is removed just as Mary Lou, most likely candidate for prom Queen, passes by in a gown is ignited by the odiferous object. She dies, once again setting the stage for revenge. 30 years later, talk about revenge being served cold, containing Mary Lou’s loyal accoutrements including her cape, ring and sash. When Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon), is refused prom dress by the ultra-religious mother she searches around until she finds the late Mary Lou’s belongings. At this point feel free to write your own screenplay, it couldn’t be much worse.

Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990)       

Director: Ron Oliver/Peter R. Simpson

Writer: Ron Oliver

Stars: Tim Conlon/Cynthia Preston/Courtney Taylor

Actually, as far as the third installment of a hollow franchise goes, this offering is not that bad, all things considered. A major reason is the writer, directors and producers wisely decided to embrace what they have you can’t scare people out right give them a few laughs. By committing completely to make this movie a comedy/horror, they relieve themselves of the obligation of having to strive for a certain level of quality. The original Mary Lou 1957 finally did have to pay for her sins upon her immolation. She is trapped in hell, bound by chains. It appears that most things do not change down through the years when it comes to teenage girls and then need for primping. By some means Mary Lou was able to bring a nail file along with her to hell. She is able to use it to sort through her chains and a sort of homage to ‘the Shawshank Redemption, ’although I must been one sturdy nail file to sever demonic chains. Perhaps, the Catholic girls only rate and outer ring of the Inferno where monitoring and quality assurance is not as severe. Anyway, she makes her way back to the spot where she died looking for revenge beginning with killing a janitor and slaughtering a few of her ex-boyfriends. Adhering to the slasher film code of misconduct, points are given for the imaginative raise Mary Lou uses in her killing spree. Proving she is not only a trap but unpatriotic she does seduce a boy having sex with him on an American flag.

Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil (1992)       

Director: Clay Borris

Writer: Richard Beattie

Stars: Nicole de Boer/Joy Tanner/J.H. Wyman

At least fans of ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ will be able to recognize Ms. de Boer, from her role as Lieutenant Ezri Dax. Once again we find ourselves back at Hamilton high school appending the faithful prom of 1957. The commonplace is repeated once again although this time from a slightly different perspective. Young couple wildly in last because in order to have sex. Since this is a yet another comedy/horror film, the consequences of such activities is well known, at least to the audience. To the disappointment of any teenage boys watching, the attack and subsequent murders occur before they can get fully undressed. The one responsible used a reference fashioned as a crucifix in the spirit from one church to another apparently by some cult. He is held in the basement of one church for 33 years. Eventually the time comes for him to get loose and yes, there will be blood, lots and lots of stage blood. Disposition of the antagonist is somewhat open-ended along the possibility of yet another installment but since it’s been over 23 years this installment I think we’re safe, at least for now.

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