October 28, 2012

Prom Night II (1987)

"When Hamilton High's Prom Queen of 1957, Mary Lou Maloney is killed by her jilted boyfriend, she comes back for revenge 30 years later."

Only three days left until Hallowe'en? October has flown by for everyone who writes a daily horror blog although it's tiring work watching all these old movies again instead of being spoiled by new ones. Yes, I tell my cats how tiring it is every time we are all snuggled up together in front of a great horror film just how exhausting it is. I don't think they believe me, and nor should you.

I imagine that it's boring reading about the same things from everyone because I've noticed right across the board that hardly anyone is getting any comments and the pageviews are surprisingly low. Don't worry, it's nearly over. Next month, there are going to be a lot of changes on my blog including a higher ratio of articles to reviews. I've known for a long time that horror movie review blogs are old hat now, but I may still surprise you with a few dips back into "The Vault" for as long as I have any good films left to talk about.

Anyway, "Prom Night II" is yet another Canadian clone of better American movies which I used to think was very good indeed. I'm not so sure about it anymore even though it's easily the best of the "Prom Night" series.

Although it was originally released a couple of weeks too late for Hallowe'en in 1987, "Prom Night II" is yet another supernatural horror movie which suits the season perfectly. There's even a big plastic pumpkin sitting on a shelf in the school basement at around 19 minutes in.

I have no idea when "proms" actually happen in America or Canada since we don't have them in Britain (occasionally there's a disco at the end of term), but I assume that they are a Springtime event or something which happens after graduation rather than in October when everyone is going back to school. Whatever the case, they are a good setting for lots of teenager shenanigans and the focus of far too many '80s movies.

What makes "Prom Night II" stand out more than the rest is the abundance of so many hot girls all at the same time. While most people rave about Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou Maloney, she doesn't have a lot of time on screen, and she's not actually the prettiest. My favourite is Beth Gondek who plays Jess. She's the girl with the big hair and bad dress sense who is almost guillotined then gets hanged and thrown out of a window before she has chance to shine.

Beverley Hendry is also extremely good-looking and almost perfect in her role as Monica apart from being a little bit too old for the part. Think Charisma Carpenter in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and you'll get the idea. Actually, I don't think any of the actors are really teenagers, but I may be wrong about that. The most memorable is Terri Hawkes as Kelly, the wannabe prom queen, who is desperate to win that fleeting and totally worthless moment of popularity at any price. She's more "cute" than sexy, but she definitely shows more acting ability than her peers.

Surprisingly, the one girl I don't find attractive in "Prom Night II" is Wendy Lyon who plays the lead. The song by The Monks called "Nice Legs Shame About Her Face" is cruel but very fitting. As Vicki Carpenter, Wendy Lyon plays the part as a rather plain blonde who likes frizzy, permed hair and nail polish but doesn't like make-up. Her face really screams for make-up though, and it's a pity that YouTube hadn't been invented at the time or she would have learned a lot from the viral Jenna Marbles comedy video.

Vicki Carpenter is half Carrie White and half Andie Walsh from "Pretty in Pink" (1986) but not as cute or as likeable as either of them. Even when she gets completely nude for five minutes or so in the middle of the film, she just doesn't do it for me. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

I've been giving plot points away so I might as well just summarise the story completely by saying that "Prom Night II" is, basically, a fusion of "Carrie" (1976), "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) and "The Exorcist" (1973). In fact, the latter even gets referenced in the dialogue in a "meta" moment which seems out of place in anything other than a comedy. The more I think about it though, there's a possibility that "Prom Night II" might be a very dark comedy which doesn't really work. It certainly reeks of John Hughes-style characters even down to a far too good-looking computer nerd played by Brock Simpson (the only actor to appear in all four "Prom Night" movies) who has all the best lines.

The disappointing ending is actually worse than "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Friday the 13th" and "Phantasm II" which all share the same "now you think they're safe but they aren't" twist. If it hadn't been for such formulaic pandering, "Prom Night II" probably wouldn't have bombed at the box office when it came out. Stuff like that just spoils any emotional investment which you've put in so be advised that you really need to switch the movie off before Michael Ironside gets the kids into the car at the end.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that Michael Ironside is in this too. He's okay, but there's just not enough of him due to having to share his part with a younger actor, Steve Atkinson, who is made-up with a cheek scar to look just like him in the flashbacks. Out of the two Billy Nordhams, the younger one is the more interesting.

I recommend "Prom Night II", but it's one of those movies where you really had to be there at the time it came out to fully appreciate it. Some of the effects are dated now, there are two dream sequences which confuse matters and slightly spoil the flow of the story, and it's not scary. If you are into the '80s and nostalgia, it's still rather entertaining.

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