This review is the first of my “It came from the Queue” reviews. These stem from the free trial stage of my Netflix account. I had a month of freebies, and I was not going to use it wisely. “Prom Night IV: Deliver us from Evil” came as a double feature DVD. My God, I could rent two for the price of one….sort of.
I didn’t mind Prom Night III. It didn’t have much in the way of scare factor or much gore, but the story is one you’re interested in following and there was solid if not a little over the top acting, funny lines, and even a star turn from Jeremy Ratchford of “Cold Case” fame as the stereotypically nerdy and schedule obsessed Leonard.
The bad girl Prom Queen of Hamilton High, Mary Lou Maloney (Courtney Taylor) tries to make another go at claiming her title of Queen of the Prom. There is only one problem; she is stuck in hell. As the title credits roll, you get to see Mary Lou’s hell. Hell is a dirty dingy version of Hamilton High in 1957 with a few neon lights and a dance floor that is hot to the touch. You see dead girls dancing, or just shambling in place with an occasional “Ouch!” in bare feet. Mary Lou, in a blue dress and strategically burned somehow has supernatural powers at her disposal. She manages to coax the school janitor back in the world of the living to a jukebox that appears out of nowhere. It turns out that he was a classmate of Mary Lou in 1957, and he recognizes her voice before he is electrocuted by the jukebox giving her a gate back to the living world, where she is also endowed with otherworldly magic.
You’d think that such a powerful demon Prom Queen on a mission would render gory results on the night of the prom.
Not so! The gore is at a minimum in this Prom Night sequel. She can make food stands, salon chairs that drip battery acid and a football drill appear as if by magic, but somehow, the cartoon effects are very tame. By the time she knocks off the school guidance counselor in the salon chair of battery acidic doom with the line, “you’re nails look terrible. Let me help you with that!” I thought I was watching a live action episode of “Looney Tunes”. Mary Lou even had an array of costumes at her disposal from Soda Shoppe girl to naughty nurse giving her more of a Bugs Bunny persona.
What she didn’t have was a means to dispose of the bodies. Enter Alex (Tim Conlon) an aspiring doctor second string football player, band member and overall ‘average’ guy right down to his height and shoe size, according to him and the statistics he read to his long suffering girlfriend, Sarah. Not long after the resurrection of Mary Lou and the school gymnasium in an elaborate ceremony by Hamilton’s new principal, Alex gets the bright idea to study for a big biology test late at night, hours after the school closes. Study time is interrupted by Mary Lou, who despite Alex’s average height, shoe size and according to the guidance counselor, grades, seduces and ultimately falls for him, killing off faculty and students that stand in the way of his being both a pre-med student and star football player while doctoring his grades and endowing him with athletics.
And all he has to do in return is meet her at school late at night and bury a couple of bodies.
As you probably guess, infidelity with a demon starts to lose its appeal to Alex. On top of explaining himself to Sarah as to where he goes late at night, he also has to contend with his conscience while burying bodies. Plied by sexual favors at first, he eventually breaks up with Mary Lou after the football captain is murdered and police start to question and ultimately arrest him. By then, a fuming Mary Lou begins to believe that Sarah, a smart and pretty blond who doesn’t get mad, but bakes, is the only thing to stand between herself and Alex. Even though Sarah ends up going with school nerd, Leonard, despite his need to stick to a prom night schedule down to the photographs, Sarah is still a threat to Mary Lou.
Personally, I think that Mary Lou should have left Leonard alone instead of killing him by wrapping him in film strip tape and let Sarah see where the date led. Sure, he was a nerdy far cry to the near slob Ratchford would later play in “Cold Case” but if movies teach us anything, it’s the nerds who end up wealthy how many years down the road. He certainly had more of a career than the rest of the cast!
But Sarah is still a threat and attacked. Hamilton High’s Prom, which is held in the newly restored gym, is blitzed by Alex who escaped from jail thanks to an idiot guard and Mary Lou who expects Alex to be the Prom King to Her Queen, complete with a drill attachment to his crown lest Sarah be killed. Alex agrees to ‘go home’ with Mary Lou, back to Hamilton Hell to save Sarah, crown not included.
High school is hellish enough for most people to begin with. In this case, Alex needed to be saved from a hell that contained dead faculty and students out to get him, dirty halls and a Demon Mary Lou that for all her powers is not immune to a flame thrower and the greatest action tag line of all: “I don’t get mad, I bake” from plucky Sarah.
I told you that there were priceless lines in this movie!
Overall, it was enjoyable to watch, but more funny than scary. As I mentioned before, there were great lines. In addition to the baking quip, there are a number of very dark humored PA announcements throughout the school time scenes such as the one where the principal tells the students to wish the cafeteria cook the best of luck as she goes back to her old job at the nuclear plant. While the stars of the cast were okay, I think it was Jeremy Ratchford as Leonard who turned out the best performance. I did expect a little more from Courtney Taylor as Mary Lou, as not only was this the lead role, but one any actress could have a lot of fun with, especially the script being the live action cartoon as it was. She looked good in her many costumes, but that was it really.
While I won’t spoil the ending, I will give credit for a twist outside what was an otherwise formulaic story. What I will say, and what many of you are probably thinking is, maybe next year, Hamilton High will host the Prom at a hotel or venue outside the high school. Between “Carrie” and the “Prom Night” series, you get the sense that holding Prom at the high school is just too dangerous! Then again, if the “Prom Night” of 2008 says anything, school grounds or hotel, there is no safe place to have the Prom. Makes me glad I skipped my own!