Prom Night III: The Last Kiss

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Our rating: two lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.


Prom Night 3
Mary Lou and her Prom King.
There's something about a bad movie franchise that just sucks us in, requiring that we watch all four parts (or five, or six...) in a completist frenzy. Perhaps it's the hope that, given enough chances, someone might actually make a good movie based on the premise, or at least wander far enough into self-parody to make the proceedings sufficiently entertaining. Prom Night III: The Last Kiss toys with the idea of self-parody, but just isn't funny enough to result in a pleasant video experience.

Related by name only to the first Prom Night, and only tangentially to Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Prom Night 3 returns us to the halls of Hamilton High, where prom queen Mary Lou Maloney was tragically burnt to death in an accident on her prom night in 1956. Since then, Mary Lou periodically haunts the school, looking to recreate her Prom Night and exact a bloody revenge on those who have happy high school lives. (This is the only way we can explain the fact that Mary Lou indiscriminately kills nearly everyone in her path.)

The film begins in what we can only assume to be Hell. Hell is apparently non-stop forced aerobic exercise. (But hey, you didn't have to tell us that.) Mary Lou escapes by removing her shackles with her Standard-Hell-issue nail file and flees to late-Eighties Hamilton High, where she kills a janitor. Yeah, that's it. Pick on the little guy.

You know, we'd like to know how Mary Lou ended up in Hell in the first place. As Prom Night II ended, Mary Lou was pretty much hale and hearty, possesing the body of Michael Ironsides. So unless being Michael Ironsides is Hell... never mind.

Prom Night 3
In a fit of desperation, Sarah
goes to the prom with the school dork.
The film's anti-hero, Alex, is a student at Hamilton High. He despairs that he is totally average. He is of average build, he gets average grades, and has an above-average babe for a girlfriend, Sarah. He is also of average age for a high school student appearing in a movie, 29. When the school guidance counselor tells him that his grades won't allow him to go to med school, Alex becomes depressed.

To digress for a minute, this brings us to the Great Guidance Counselor Paradox: if guidance counselors know so damn much about choosing careers, how the hell did they become high school guidance counselors? That's never made any sense to us, and apparently not to writer/director Ron Oliver, either -- this scene begins a series of cruel jokes.

Alex: I told you to stop killing people!

Mary Lou: It's not a person -- it's a guidance counselor.

Hauling him out of his depression is Mary Lou, who restores her own youthful appearance and Alex's confidence by seducing him in the school hallway late one night. Don't get too excited, our voyeuristic readers: as often as Alex and Mary Lou have sex, the nudity factor in this film is disappointingly low. It's not nearly up to the high standards set by the locker room scene in Prom Night II. This scene only pays off the next morning, when Alex wakes up with the school bell wearing nothing but the American flag and lives the great High School Nudity Nightmare.

Prom Night 3
Hell must have been rough --
Mary Lou didn't get much sleep.
The innocent babe this time is Sarah, played by Cyndy Preston. Sarah doesn't do all that much until the end of the film, but she does deliver one really great line. When Alex pisses poor Sarah off, she returns to school the next day with a bag of cookies. When Alex asks her about the cookies she replies, "I don't get mad. I bake."

The most horrific thing about Prom Night III is the fact that none of the original cast from Prom Night II returned. So the first cast of no-name rejects is replaced by another cast of no-name rejects, except for some guy named Brock Simpson, who played Young Nick in Prom Night, Josh in Prom Night II, and the occasionally funny cop, Larry, in III. What a career! (Gosh, do you get the feeling he'll show up in Prom Night IV too?)

The really depressing part of the cast shakeup is the fact that the new Mary Lou, Courtney Taylor, is darn awful. She spends most of the film wearing bags under her eyes, and, as usual, looks about thirty years old. She's not nearly as seductive or funny as her predecessor, Lisa Schrage. Maybe Schrage wouldn't do even those limited nude scenes. Maybe she had the flu. In any case, it's a crying shame that she couldn't return to bring life to Mary Lou one more time.

While this movie sounds like a logical sequel to Prom Night II, the tone of Prom Night III is radically different. From the Valley Girl Hell at the beginning, to Mary Lou's bizarre Freddy Krugeresque killing methods, to the wacked collection of people who make up Alex's family, Prom Night III plays like a parody of High School mores. Unfortunately, that sense of parody doesn't extend to the horror elements of the story. Rather than make fun of horror conventions, Prom Night III fufills them. Mary Lou kills the requisite number of people, the final conflict takes place in Hell, and there is a "shocking" twist ending. Ho hum. On to the next sequel, which features a different story line and Mary Lou is nowhere to be found. See ya later, alligator.

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Review date: 4/15/98

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