Friday, December 25, 2009

'Prom Night IV': The 'Angels & Demons' of slasher films

Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (1992)
Starring: Nikki de Boer, Alden Kane, Joy Tanner, Alle Ghadban, and James Carver
Director: Clay Borris
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A demon-possessed Catholic priest (Carver) stalks and kills fornicating teenagers (de Boer, Kane, Tanner, and Ghadban) who have snuck for a weekend of nookie at an isolated country home that used to be a monastery.

"Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil" is a by-the-numbers slasher flick that is distingushed by a creepier-than-average slasher, thanks to a chilling performance by James Carver, and a cuter-than-average central chick in the form of Nikki de Boer, who gives the best performance in the entire film. In fact, she is so good she makes her nearly charisma-free co-star Alden Kane look even less talented than he does in scenes he doesn't share with de Boer. In fact, de Boer gives a performance that belongs in the Slasher Movie Hall of Fame, right along side Jamie Lee Curtis' turn in "Terror Train" and "Halloween".

The film even manages to do something that the original "Prom Night"did not... it manages to dish out some truly shocking and startling imagery. The film surprises more than once in that area... and I can't get specific, because it will ruin the surprises if you haven't seen this movie.

Unfortunately there are two big problems with this "Prom Night" sequel, and they conspire to make it only slightly better than the original film in the series.

The first problem is with the script. It's very uneven and herky-jerky in its pacing. After a strong start--with prelude murders, the presentation of a secret Catholic cabal that makes those guys protecting the DaVinci Code look like first-round "American Idol" contestants, and a startling dispatch of what looked to be a main character even before the film's main story has started--but it then threatened to stall out with an uninteresting build-up to the bloody teen butchery that invariably takes place in a film like this. Once the killing started, the film did an okay job of keeping up the suspense and terror, but there were at least five minutes of pure padding that should have been gotten rid of before we got there.

The second problem is with the title. While the "Prom Night" series has never been one to care about continuity between movies--the first was a simple revenge tale, the two middle ones were about a Prom Queen who was too bitchy to die, and the one being discussed here goes off in yet another direction that has nothing to do with any of the other films. In fact, it doesn't even really have anything to do with a prom, except one is talked about and the four main characters drive by one on their way to their weekend of private debauchery. I suspect the producers of the film had a generic slasher flick that they hoped to boost audience for by associating it with an established brand. It's almost too bad they did that, because Father Jonas could possibly have been another Jason or Michael if he had been allowed to skewer unsuspecting fornicators with his bladed crucifix. It would have freed the film of the tedious task of paying lip-service to a prom that has nothing to do with anything, and it might have left more time for the whole Church Conspiracy/Demon Possession angle.

On the other hand, whoever holds the rights to this film isn't terribly swift, so I can see how they might have thought the "Prom Night" brand would held their movie rather than hurt it. After all, this film was NOT released under a new title to take advantage of the "Catholic Conspiracy Craze" that was stirred up by the "DaVinci Code" and "Angels & Demons" hype of recent years.

Despite its weaknesses and its history of bad marketing, "Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil" is a fairly decent slasher flick. Fans of the classics in this horror subgenre should get a kick out of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment