Prom Night: The Collection

Horror franchises arguably have the worst track record when it comes to producing sequels, and with a series such as Prom Night, it’s impossible to argue otherwise. This collection is no doubt the most inconsistent batch of movies comprising a relatively well-known series. Aside from the middle two films there’s nothing keeping these movies related other than the Hamilton High setting, yet when the fourth instalment rolls around it receives but a mere mention when the kids decide to skip prom for a cottage for unlimited fornication. The original, which has recently been remade with a new plot, hence this collection, still upholds its slasher spark, surprisingly, largely in part due to the unsettling opening sequence where child bullying goes awry. A resulting death sets up the flash-forward to prom night, when the kids involved in the mishap are terrorised by a masked stalker. Prom Night certainly borrows heavily from films like Black Christmas and Halloween (Jamie Lee Curtis helps) but the film stood out from the many copycats for good reasons: a picture-perfect setting for a massacre, an effective twist ending and that delicious disco soundtrack! Seven years later, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II appeared out of thin air, and I can see why there was little anticipation. Like the infamous Halloween III, this sequel does a complete about face, using only the school’s name and the prom experience as a connection to its predecessor. Instead of a cut-’em-up slasher, the series turned to supernatural revenge when Mary Lou Maloney returns from the dead 30 years later to terrorise those who killed her on prom night. The ridiculous tone, pathetic make-up and effects, and third-rate acting (Michael Ironside pulls off a rather flaccid turn as the tortured principal) are further reminders of how horror became such a schlock-fest in the ’80s. It only gets worse and more confusing with Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, arguably one of the dumbest films ever conceived. The franchise was no doubt at a standstill after the second instalment, which led them to this lame-brained horror/comedy, where Mary Lou seduces a hapless teen into her love slave/accomplice. The tone has been reduced to silly one-liners, gory gags and boob humour that does little to justify bringing back Miss Mary Lou for a recurring lead role. Ugh. Worst of all is Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil, a film that can be best described as Argento imagined by community college freshman. Redirecting the series back to its seriousness, the premise avoids the prom altogether, focusing on an evil priest with a hate-on for horny teens. Huh? Honestly, even watching this one in fast-forward felt far too trying for my nerves. Sadly, anyone excited by the original Prom Night and its still intact thrills would be wise to stay away from this slapdash collection. Aside from the films viewing like unabashed, amateur Canadian productions that do nothing to hide their low budgets, there are no extras and the dated menus reveal there’s nothing new here other than a fancy new scratch-inviting box to hold them all together in. (Alliance)