Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Girlfriend From Hell Worth Remembering: Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990)

Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (Canada, 1990)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Tim Conlon, Cynthia Preston, David Stratton

The first Prom Night (1980) sequel was a podge of all things supernatural with a little bit of bodycounting; we had possessions, hauntings, and teenagers being flattened inside compressed lockers, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II was indeed a fun baggage but I believe it could have used more carnage...and the actual Mary Lou experience.

Thankfully, someone by the name of Ron Oliver thought so too and decided to direct the Prom Queen from Hell's Direct to Video return in this early 90s splatter effort! (Before spending his directorial talent on TV productions including the 90s Police Academy TV series and some Goosebumps episodes. That actually explains a lot for this movie...)

It seems that sometime after the events of Prom Night II, Mary Lou (now played by the adorable Courtney Taylor) finds herself banished and chained back to Hell, to spend an eternity dancing to boogie music along with other damned gals. (No, really) Obviously not wanting any of this, she nail files her shackles off and hauntingly returns to Hamilton High where she wastes no time wrecking havoc all over again.

Catching her good side is one Alex Grey (Tim Conlon), an average student and football player who dreams of going to medical school but is struggling to keep his grades satisfactory and his girlfriend, Sarah, happy. Charmed by his good looks, Mary Lou decided to use her supernatural prowess to help (read: murder anybody that is making Alex's life a moderate hell), as well as make herself available for some ghostly love-making! Alex, though was kinda cool with this at first, slowly realizes that he's biting more than he can chew when Mary's murderous antics worsens by the minute.

For this round, The Last Kiss can be best described as a reverse treatment of the Hello Mary Lou plot, wherein we get a more traditional supernatural slasher act for the first hour, before moving to an strange yet entertaining last third involving a descent to hell, zombified victims and a killer jukebox. I find this a very welcome take that not only delivered the goriest (and some of the best) deaths in the series and a rather more worthwhile (if not downright likable) plot, but it also brought the Mary Lou saga to its rightful place as a fun and funny borderline spoof of all things horror and slasher, even more effectively than what the prior entry did.

From crazy murder set-pieces to odd announcements over the PA, The Last Kiss settles its normally upsetting ideas of cheating, framing, and, of course, gory murders with a comical approach that's more fitting to a teen comedy than an actual horror flick. In fact, this third Prom Night makes a lousy excuse for a horror movie since nearly everybody acts like a bad sitcom character and there's hardly any brooding atmosphere or a sense of dread, all of which can be evidently seen on our supposed hero as he reacts to some murders in a manner more fitting to how one would to a pet cat accidentally pushing its food dish down.

Still, these are very minor drawbacks if the end result was a silly film with a memorable villainess, who is now a maniacally lovestruck and homicidally imaginative wisecracking teenage mistress worthy of rivaling Freddy Krueger. (Yeah, I went there. Deal with it!) You could say that The Last Kiss was an attempted vehicle to bring Mary Lou up with the other memorable femme fatales in slasherdom, obvious with her larger onscreen presence and more aggressive attitude compared to Prom Night II's treatment, though whether this worked or not seems dependent on the viewers but I am happy to admit I am one of this version's adoring fans. (There's a few more out there. I'm sure of it)

If there is one thing that stopped me from rating this film any higher, it is how unnecessarily mean and dreary the ending turned up to be. Without spoiling anything, someone dies and someone gets trapped in the 50s for eternity, but it was the contrasting tone that felt out of place which delivered the wounding blow. Still, with the positives thankfully overwhelming this little chip on the wood, I learned to let it go and let murderous hell girls do their thang. Afterall, this is the last time we get to experience the perfect Mary Lou in her supernatural goriness so might as well switch out and enjoy The Last Kiss!

1 male electrocuted against a jukebox, pacemaker blows out from his chest
1 male ran through the head with a handheld mixer, split open
1 female bathe in battery acid
1 male impaled to a goal post with a thrown football-drill
1 male clawed through the chest, heart torn out
2 males electrocuted
1 male killed, later found wrapped in magnetic tape
1 female clawed through the gut
Total: 9