After chronicling the exploits of a prom queen from hell in the previous two installments, the PROM NIGHT series returns to the slasher formula of the first film. PROM NIGHT IV: DELIVER US FROM EVIL is stylishly shot and contains a few real scares, but it's not enough to elevate what has
become a very tired plotline.
Like its predecessors, this one is set around Hamilton High School, opening with yet another tragedy that occurred there decades ago. Back in 1957, a randy prom-going couple were murdered in their car by Father Jonas (James Carver), a priest possessed by a demonic spirit. Discovered flagellating
himself and sporting stigmata in the basement of the St. Basil Seminary, Father Jonas was taken to a nearby church, where an unsuccessful exorcism was performed. He has been imprisoned ever since in the bowels of the building, strapped down and kept under constant sedation. In the present, young
novice priest Father Colin (Brock Simpson) is informed by the aging Father Jaeger (Ken McGregor) that it is his duty to take over the tending of Father Jonas, and never to let him go a day without being sedated. But shortly after Jaeger passes on, Colin neglects the injection through a combination
of inquisitiveness and carelessness, and Jonas wakes up and escapes, murdering Colin before vanishing.
Meanwhile, a pair of Catholic school girls, inexperienced Megan (Nikki De Boer) and trampy Laura (Joy Tanner) are preparing for prom night. But they're not going to the actual event; along with their respective boyfriends, Mark (Alden Kane) and Jeff (Alle Ghadban), they're headed for the summer
house of Mark's parents. Said house just happens to be--wouldn't you know it--the former St. Basil's Seminary, and Jonas is on his way there as well. The two couples arrive to find the place stripped of its electrical appliances, but decide there's still plenty they can do to keep occupied that
only requires the upstairs beds.
While Jeff and Laura engage in violent coupling and Megan prepares to go all the way for the first time with Mark, a heavy breather lurks outside, peering through the windows. At least some of the breathing turns out to be coming from Mark's younger brother Jonathan (Fab Filippo), who has sneaked
up to the house with a video camera and is busy taping all the risque activity; but he's attacked and killed by Jonas, who has also butchered a foul-mouthed motorist he's hitched a ride with. The mad priest then dispatches Laura, and crushes Jeff's head in his bare hands when the young man comes
looking for her.
Searching for their friends, Megan and Mark are horrified when they discover their bodies tied to flaming crosses. With no way to escape the isolated building (they were delivered in a since-departed limo), Mark rushes to find the house's gun while Megan calls the police. They are then attacked by
Jonas, who chases Mark to the roof; attempting to shoot him, Mark is stabbed by the madman and ultimately falls to his death. Taking up the gun, Megan ineffectively shoots Jonas before causing his immolation in a barn explosion. The police arrive, and both Jonas's body and Megan are taken
away--but in his ambulance, Jonas's eyes snap open; so do Megan's, and now she bears the possessed look as well.
The best part of PROM NIGHT IV is its opening, which effectively sets up its premise and contains most of its creepiest material. The scenes in the catacombs beneath the church are dripping with atmosphere, and indeed, director Clay Borris demonstrates a creative way with a camera throughout, with
plenty of sinuous tracking shots and unusual angles. The problem is that this kind of visual imagination can only go so far in the service of a tired plot, particularly one with such a limited number of victims that, as a result, they're made to spend an awful lot of time wandering around darkened
It doesn't help that the characters, despite showing occasional flashes of personality, are restricted to playing types--the good couple and the horny couple--with little in the way of meaningful dialogue. The screenplay attempts to give them more intelligence than the usual slasher film teens,
but once Mark gets ahold of the gun, he doesn't stand his ground but instead runs to the snowy roof, where he is easy pickings for his attacker. And although Megan does think to call the police, and actually gets through, she never thinks to put shoes on, and thus steps barefoot onto broken glass
not once but twice, the latter time resulting in a set of bloody footprints that lead the killer straight to her hiding place.
There are some chills in the latter section of the movie, but its general predictability and ridiculously cliched concluding scene keep PROM NIGHT IV stranded in mediocrity. (Violence, profanity, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: After chronicling the exploits of a prom queen from hell in the previous two installments, the PROM NIGHT series returns to the slasher formula of the first film. PROM NIGHT IV: DELIVER US FROM EVIL is stylishly shot and contains a few real scares, but it'… (more)