Two Horror Films from Sony
Prom Night (January 22/09)
Though a remake in name only, Prom Night nevertheless improves considerably upon its eponymous predecessor - as the film's stripped-down premise ensures that it ultimately comes off as a prototypical slasher (which is, given its lamentable PG-13 rating, certainly no small feat). The almost comically spare storyline follows spunky teenager Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) as she attends her senior prom three years after the brutal murder of her entire family, with complications ensuing as the psycho (Johnathon Schaech's Richard Fenton) responsible for the aforementioned deaths has escaped from prison determined to finish what he started. Director Nelson McCormick has infused Prom Night with a refreshingly straight-forward sense of style that effectively evokes the '80s slashers it's clearly been modeled after, while screenwriter J.S. Cardone's tongue-in-cheek treatment of the material generally compensates for both the lack of gore and the excessive familiarity of the plot. The repetitive nature of the movie's opening hour - Fenton dispatches a series of characters that unknowingly stumble into his lair - plays a key role in the film's mild success, as it's difficult not to derive some satisfaction from the ease with which increasingly moronic characters fall into the clutches of a blood-thirsty madman. There's little doubt that Schaech's creepy performance proves instrumental in the effectiveness of such sequences, and it's also worth noting that Snow offers up strong work that's a cut above the standard scream-and-run horror-movie heroine. The end result is a thoroughly disposable effort that's far more watchable than it has any right to be, although - admittedly - the abrupt ending ensures that the movie concludes on as anti-climactic a note as one could possibly imagine.
The degree to which Zombie Strippers! quickly establishes itself as an inept, flat-out worthless piece of work is admittedly not all that surprising, yet - given the effectiveness of that goofy title - it's ultimately difficult not to feel a twinge of disappointment at the relentlessly dull atmosphere. The movie follows several strippers (including Jenna Jameson's Kat and Roxy Saint's Lillith) as they're transformed into zombies after a government-sanctioned research project goes horribly wrong, with the bulk of the proceedings revolving around their subsequent efforts at feeding on their customers. The vibe of amateurishness that pervades virtually every aspect of Zombie Strippers! proves impossible to overlook, as filmmaker Jay Lee's inability to elicit even a hint of competence from his actors and production staff immediately transforms the movie into a grueling, downright interminable ordeal. Lee's penchant for peppering his screenplay with eye-rolling instances of dialogue - none of which is even remotely as clever as he clearly believes it to be - only exacerbates the movie's various problems, although it's hard to argue that the decision to primarily set the proceedings at just one locale ranks high on Zombie Strippers!' list of egregious transgressions. The final insult comes with the creeping revelation that the titular creatures are not zombies at all but rather blood-thirsty demons, which - given that Lee couldn't even get zombies right - certainly stands as an ideal example of everything that's wrong with this woefully incompetent effort.