When it comes to slasher franchises, the Prom Night movies often get overlooked. Partly because none of the films were as groundbreaking as something like Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street. Partly because, unlike most other slasher series, the Prom Night movies don’t follow the same killer movie after movie. Technically neither does Scream, but it’s still the same costume and collective killer we refer to as “Ghostface”.
But since it’s currently prom season, we thought it would be fun to take a closer look at this franchise and discuss its several entries that most casual fans (and many horror fans) have either never seen or never heard of altogether. So here are our rankings (from the worst to the best) of all five Prom Night movies!
5. Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (1991)
This fourth entry in the series not only looks and feels the cheapest, but it doesn’t even really feel like a Prom Night movie. Featuring a homicidal priest who wants to punish teens for their “sinful behavior”, it feels like a movie that started as a completely different script, and then the producers shoehorned the “Prom Night” so it could have brand recognition, whatever that was worth at the time.
Opening on the same night as Mary Lou’s tragic demise in 1957, this movie goes off the rails with a strange tangent plotwise that really didn’t need to be connected to Mary Lou at all. It then just turns into a third-rate slasher with teenagers being picked off one by one as they partake in “sinful” behavior.
But that’s just it, hardly any of it actually takes place at the prom, and the whole concept of an overzealous, murderous priest might have worked better as its own movie rather than an unwarranted sequel.
4. Prom Night (2008)
Nearly 20 years after the last entry, this remake is by far the most polished and features the highest budget and production value. That said, the movie itself just feels empty, and is very much a product of its time.
It represents all the worst aspects of horror in the mid-2000’s: it’s an unnecessary remake, it wants the shocks and brutality of an R rating, but limits itself to PG-13, and it’s filled with flashy, quick cut editing that makes it look like a music video. Not to mention its characters are boring and its plot downright forgettable.
All of these would at least be somewhat forgivable if the movie itself had something unique to offer. But it just feels like a shameless cash grab devoid of any creativity or passion. While this version definitely looks better visually, than the rest, it just feels hollow and empty.
3. Prom Night (1980)
At risk of incurring Internet wrath, this has to be stated: the original Prom Night is dull at worst and mediocre at best. To its credit, it features strong performances from a young Jamie Lee Curtis and a pre-Airplane Leslie Nielsen. For those more familiar with his comedic roles in parody movies, see him “play it straight” so to speak comes off as a bit odd.
And it works as a standalone slasher that plays out more like a murder/mystery. But compared to what followed it, there’s nothing in this first movie that really stands out or is that memorable.
2. Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990)
Without a doubt, this is the most ridiculous, over the top, and absurd Prom Night movie. But that’s part of what makes it so fun and enjoyable to watch.
We definitely get a downgraded version of Mary Lou as she’s recast, but what follows is essentially a romantic comedy, odd couple pairing where he’s the high school quarterback, and she’s a serial killer who won’t stop killing people.
It’s by no means an Oscar contender and it’s not trying to be. It knows exactly how ridiculous the whole thing is and just runs with it to hilarious places.
1. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
It was always going to be Mary Lou! In a sequel that virtually shares no connection to its predecessor (other than the name Hamilton High School), this movie outshines it in every single way. Mary Lou is a fun character and compelling villain that actually manages to become sympathetic by the end.
Boasting creative kills, practical effects that really hold up, and great performances from Wendy Lyon and Michael Ironside, Hello Mary Lou manages to be more that just your typical slasher comedy. Mary Lou herself becomes the embodiment and retribution against the whole sex equals death trope in horror.
She herself was slutshamed and even murdered for her promiscious behavior and she comes back to make them horny and then kill them. If you watch just one Prom Night movie, make it this one!
Which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!