Has anyone taken a good long look at this weekend's theatrical releases? Apparently I'm choosing between a movie about a gay British dude who somehow gets chicks (I am actually aware of the fact that Alfie is not gay, but he's British, which is close enough) and another freaking Pixar cartoon. Great. In fact, so little has opened that I think [i]Friday Night Lights[/i] is back on something like 4 screens, and somehow they've resurrected [i]Wicker Park[/i] back from dollar theater purgatory. Well, I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea: there is absolutely nothing opening this weekend. And if anyone expects me to get excited over the almost certainly derivative [i]National Treasure[/i], well, it's time for me to head over to Hollywood Video.
So, being a horror completist, I feel occasionally obligated to watch films that I just KNOW are going to be awful, just in order to say I've completed the series. (As a self-purported horror film expert, how am I supposed to answer the query, "Which [i]Witchboard[/i] movie is the best?" if I haven't seen each and every one of them?) This unheralded dedication led to the unfortunate viewing of [b][i]Prom Night III: The Last Kiss[/i][/b] this past week. I can't really discuss this film seriously, since it was so godawful it transended the medium of cinematic discussion. In the first [i]Prom Night [/i](actually a decent slasher movie, although [b]Jamie Lee Curtis[/b] was attempting to play "high school" even into her 50s) a little girl was shoved from a window during a particularly grueling game of hide and seek in an abandoned school. The kids who did the shoving all grow up and go to prom, only to be killed one by one. The killer turned out to be the brother of little the little girl, and whereas the original film is scary and intense, somehow the [i]Prom Night [/i]sequels were bastardized. Beginning with [i]Hello[/i] [i]Mary Lou: Prom Night II[/i] the focus shifts to a worthless franchise character named Mary Lou, a high school girl jilted in 1957 who returns for revenge dressed in black prom get-up, killing in a way-too-literal and unambiguous fashion in subsequent films.
[i]Prom Night III[/i] is the result of an unfortunate 80s trend: the unfunny horror comedy. [i]Student Bodies[/i] or [i]Return to Hell High[/i], for example. [i]Prom[/i] [i]Night III[/i] is a bad, bad horror comedy. Mary Lou comes back from the dead and has some sort of uncomfortable love affair with a male student. Her evil spirit starts to "do things" for our hero: killing the teacher that gives him sh** during class, messing up opposing members of the football team, etc., presumably cause she's an evil spirit in LOVE, or some such nonsense. All of these shenanigans make for a film that comes across like a mix of [i]My Demon Lover[/i] and the [b]Scott Baio[/b] catastrophe, [i]Zapped![/i] An ugly film, totally unfunny, and lacking in any kind of narrative coherance, with not even a minor marquee player to list in its credits, only [i]Sky Captain and[/i] [i]the World of Tomorrow[/i] ranks as a worse film, in my opinion.
I followed up the abyssmal [i]Prom Night III[/i] with [i][b]Return of the Living Dead[/b] [b]2[/b][/i], the sequel to the dated but still very entertaining [i]Return of the Living[/i] [i]Dead[/i], which was itself an unofficial comedic sequel to [i]Night of the Living Dead[/i] that chose to ignore [b]Romero[/b]'s own follow-ups. In the [i]Return of the[/i] [i]Living Dead[/i] films the zombies crave BRAINS specifically, and actually have dialogue (although the dialogue is usually restricted to two phrases: "Brains!" and "More brains!"), although in most other ways they behave just like generic zombies. The gore in all three [i]Return of the Living Dead[/i] films is old school but undeniably impressive and entertaining. [b]Dana[/b] [b]Ashbrook[/b] (well before his Bobby Briggs days on [i]Twin Peaks[/i]) plays the big time high school graduate who gets the smoking hot high school girl clothed in a perpetual 80s aerobics leotard! Also, every "zombies on the prowl" scene is accompanied by the music of some vague 80s hair band, i.e., [i]Love of Wanton Satan's[/i], or [i]Metalchurch[/i], or what have you. Classic!
My point in reviewing these two films was to point out the fact that not all horror series are created equal. Undiscerning filmgoers would equate [i]Halloween 5[/i] with [i]Friday the 13th V[/i], but those of us in the know are aware of the fact that Michael 5 is a much better movie than Jason 5, that the [i]Return of the Living Dead[/i] series is worth sitting through, and the [i]Prom Night[/i] series should be put on immediate moratorium.