PROM NIGHT IV: DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Director: Clay Borris
Year of release: 1991
Country of origin: Canada
Running time: 92 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "They ditched the Prom for a private party...Now it's their last dance".
Also Known as: Prom Night 4 and Prom Night: Evil of Darkness
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: On Prom Night at Hamilton High in 1957 mad priest Jonas takes it upon himself to punish sluts and sinners by murdering a young couple getting physical in back of their car on the school grounds. Horrified by his actions and believing him to be possessed by the Devil members of the church decide to lock Jonas away in the basement of their seminary building. Here he is kept long term in a sedated catatonic like state with the aid of drugs. This unusual situations stretches on for some 34 years with the story being picked up again as Prom Night 1991 approaches. A young priest, new to the care of Jonas neglects to administer the usual drugs which results in the mad man arising from his bed to abscond into the night.
We then meet school girl Meagan who despite an innocent nature and strict Catholic upbringing is yearning to be more like her sexually liberated friend Laura. Instead of going to the Prom the girls have arranged along with their boyfriends to ditch the traditional festivities in favour of an intimate private party at the isolated mansion style house owned by the Father of one of the boys.
It turns out that this property has connections to the church and was the very place that Jonas was first held during the early stages of his incarceration by the priests back in the fifties. It of course also turns out to be the very place Jonas has decided to visit after his escape. It doesn’t take long for the sight of the two amorous couples to trigger his murderous impulses.
Good points: *The four main characters of the kids are pretty strong and they do a more than adequate job of carrying the story along. In particular I found Laura to be a fun and likeable character with some amusing comments/actions early on such as her mock attempts to seduce Meagan and her straight forward reply to the Nun regarding what she had been up to with her boyfriend. I’d go as far to say that I found Laura’s character to be the highlight of the film. The other main players were on form as well with Meagan despite being a bit stereotyped still holding up her end of things and being involved in lengthy set pieces with Jonas towards the end to bring things to a solid close.
*Mild spoiler: On topic of the final scenes the film really picked up the excitement here with first a dramatic spectacle where someone tries to escape via a roof while dodging attacks from Jonas who is trying to get at him from underneath and then later with a high octane chase scene around the house involving Meagan and Jonas.
*From a production values point of view everything looks very healthy and well put together. The house where the story occurs is in particular an a great addition and the lighting inside here is very well done. The music is also competent and though never truly a stand out thing goes about quietly enhancing things.
*Possible mild spoiler: Though we don’t get much in terms of blood and special effects connected to the kills the first two deaths for the young couple in the car looked good. The aftermath of the roof incident I touched on before also yielded a memorable death so it wasn’t without merit in this area. The weapon was original as well with a sharpened crucifix being Jonas’ item of choice so that was a nice touch. I also enjoyed the crucifixion imagery used at one point to display bodies and also the use of blood for the stigmata effects.
Bad Points: *I didn’t find Jonas the priest to make for a particularly convincing or threatening villain. In addition it was just bizarre that he didn’t seem to have aged much at all in the 34 intervening years between us seeing him at the very beginning and then the main body of the film afterward. Jonas would probably be in his fifties after his long period of sedation so it made no sense at all for him to look so similar to how he did originally.
Similarly strange was why the priests decided to keep him sedated for all these years instead of just turning him over to the authorities back in 1957. It was never elaborated on as to why they decided to do that. Even if it was just something as simple as they didn’t want anyone to find out in fear of it blackening the name of the church they should have provided some explanation.
Sticking with Jonas I also wasn’t keen on the way he swore a lot and didn’t make much sense when he spoke. This was probably intended to make him sound more scary as if the Devil were speaking through him but I would have preferred him to appear more calm and pious, maybe lecturing the kids and quoting Bible verses as he killed them.
*Another element to the film that wasn’t very logical was how the young boy managed to track his older brother to the party house. He seemed too young to be able to drive so how did he get out there?
*There were a couple of subplots hinted at early on that I was expecting to take off that to my surprise weren’t actually carried forward. Firstly I thought that the Cardinal notified when Jonas escaped would have had more scenes trying to follow the trail and chase Jonas down in a variation of the Dr Sam Loomis role but it didn’t happen and he only showed up again briefly at the very end. At the start it was also implied that the new priest had a partner or at least a close female friend whom I was expecting to later investigate his death to some extent and not accept it as a suicide as the Cardinal mentioned they would make it look like. We never saw her again though so it was pointless really even including her scene near the beginning.
Verdict: This is an entertaining if predictable effort that never really does anything to distinguish itself from the pack but is still very watchable for us slasher fans. With the two couples in the house it does have an air of Hell Night about it so it’s very familiar and typical for the genre but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it still holds the interest. It could have been better surrounding the killer Jonas whom I found to be the weakest aspect of the film but overall it’s still a more than satisfactory effort.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Girl in car: Throat slit.
2)Boy in car: Stabbed in the chest.
3)Priest: Strangled with cord as he made a telephone call to the Cardinal.
4)Car owner: Corpse flops out of car (actual killing was off camera).
5)Younger brother of one of the boyfriends: Stabbed in the chest.
6)Laura: Attacked by Jonas who was hiding under a sheet. Kill occurs off camera and we later see the body crucified and burnt.
7)Boyfriend #1: Lifted from the floor and head crushed. Body later burnt and crucified.
8)Boyfriend #2 (Mark?): Foot and hand impaled and then mortally wounded after falling off a roof. Finished off with a sharp crucifix to the chest.