Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (Ron Oliver, 1990)

The gym's been repainted and the bloodstains from Mary Lou's late '80s rampage have been removed just in time for prom season at Hamilton High, the unluckiest high school in all of Southern Ontario, er, I mean, Southern Ohio. Oh, who am I kidding? This direct-to-video horror comedy was obviously filmed somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area. While Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, directed by Ron Oliver and Peter Simpson, embraces the tone of its awesome predecessor (campy dialogue, teased hair, gaudy sweaters, and a retro fifties motif), it's completely different in terms of ghastliness. The kills, for instance, are all executed in the goofiest manner possible in this film. Sure, they were pretty goofy in Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, but I think most fans of the prom night series will agree that you can't get any goofier than the sight of heavyweight boxer George Chuvalo screaming like a little girl as a result of being stabbed through the hands with ice cream cones by a shapely woman standing over a sign that says, "yum-yum" or the sight of the captain of the football team (Go, Badgers! Go!) being impaled on a goalpost by a corkscrew-tipped pigskin. Well, you could try to be goofier, but I'm afraid that would be a fruitless endeavour. The third film in the epic saga sees unbalanced 1950s Prom Queen and opera glove enthusiast, Mary Lou Maloney (this time played by the physically arousing Courtney Taylor), using a nail file, breaks out of the fiery depths of hell (a hilarious intro that boasts the leggiest chain gang sequence in the long, storied history of leggy chain gang sequences)

This leggy chain gang sequence you speak of, surely it can't be real? Oh, it's real, my leg appreciating friend. A group of women, their legs sheathed in torn black stockings, do their best of impression of the Rockettes, while Mary Lou Maloney, a gal who has clearly had enough of hell, plans her escape. What's great about this opening sequence, besides the nylon-assisted legginess, is the fact that all the women seem surly. You would surly too if you had to wear ripped lingerie in hell. What am I saying? Of course you wouldn't be surly. If anything you would be pleased as punch by the scenario that plays out at the beginning of this film. But I'm sure normal people would not be pleased.

Her first order of business upon returning to the hallways of Hamilton High is to murder a janitor with a weak ticker. While the death of the school's custodian was satisfactory in terms of feeding her deranged blood lust (it helped that the mop jockey knew she back in the fifties, as she likes her sinister deeds to have a personal touch - killing people at random is not her style), Mary Lou discovers that she needs for a student to fall in love with her in order for her power to be fully restored.

The classically curvaceous Mary Lou chooses Alex Grey (a wide-eyed Tim Conlon), an average kid of average height and shoe size, who is just trying to survive high school with his sanity intact. She watches over the geeky senior by murdering the teachers (electric egg beaters), guidance counselors (acid makeover) and students (weaponized sports equipment) that stand his way. Of course, Alex doesn't want her to kill them, but he helps her dispose of their soon-to-be-rotting bodies like a good little sex maniac. You see, he likes to rub up against in a naked kind of way. And why wouldn't he? She looks like a cross between Sherilyn Fenn and Monica Lewinsky (an enchanting combination, if you ask me).

On top of eliminating anyone she perceives to be a threat, Mary Lou helps Alex get to the top of honour list and assists him on the football field.

The sudden change in Alex's behaviour pleases his parents (good grades, increased self-esteem), yet it angers Sarah (Cynthia Preston), his steady, non-evil girlfriend. Even though the two were having relationship issues long before Mary Lou came along (she's not getting her "I love you" returned as much as she used to), her malevolent presence seems to be exacerbating the situation.

Gorgeous, alluring, and, of course, proportionately sound from top to shapely bottom, Courtney Taylor puts on an veritable acting clinic as Mary Lou Maloney, Hamilton High's resident undead harpy. Appearing to Alex in various guises, Courtney is given the opportunity to stretch her muscles as a performer in almost every scene. Whether pretending to be a news anchor or a soda jerk, Courtney manages to convey a sense of believability; despite the fact she's playing a dead teenager from the nineteen-fifties.

The immensely attractive Cynthia Preston (who is also terrific in Pin: A Plastic Nightmare) takes on the uncomplicated role of Sarah with the righteousness of a perfectly stitched jean skirt. A bit of a dim bulb at the film's commencement, Cyndy actually begins develop some plucky attributes by the film's end. Her bravery when it came to battling Mary Lou and her army of the undead prom goers, not to mention, and her improvised flamethrower antics in the prom version of hell against the demonic jukebox and the aforementioned army zombies, for example, was quite impressive. However, it was her delivery of the line, "I don't get mad, I bake!" that was the biggest eye-opener for me, as she managed to turn an act of passive aggressive meekness into an act that oozed girl power.

While not quite as punchy as part two, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss is a surprisingly worthy addition to the prom night movie franchise.

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