“Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2” (1987)/Directed By: Bruce Pittman
I struggled whether or not to include this film as a feature in “Through the Cracks”. While I realize it’s not a well regarded horror film, I don’t think it’s unknown. As “Through the Cracks” is all about unearthing horror films that have been forgotten and disregarded by the horror masses, I decided to create a new feature here on Fearphile. “Above Board” will discuss films that might not be unknown but are truly underrated and unheralded for whatever reason. The original “Prom Night” is extremely popular, though for the life of me I’m not sure why(feel free to comment below if you’re a fan…I’d like to hear some rationale), but I want to shed light on films that haven’t gotten a fair shake. Enter Mary Lou…
I have to confess, I think “Prom Night” is one of the most dreary, boring, and overrated dead teenager flicks of the 80’s slasher boom (perhaps I should revisit it). Yes, it has Jamie Lee Curtis. Yes, it feature the epic disco prom, but when it comes to Curtis (outside of “Halloween”) I’ll take the fun-tastic “Terror Train” from 1980 any day. Suffice to say that “Prom Night 2” was never up there on my must watch list.
How wrong I was to have avoided this film for as long as I did. I remember the VHS cover on the shelf of my local Video Xpress, and I passed it up time after time. “Hello Mary Lou” opens as Mary Lou (natch) is being crowned prom queen. Unfortunately she just turned her super sweet boyfriend into a cuckold. He doesn’t tuck his dick between his legs and limp away. Oh, no. He has the bright idea of throwing a stink bomb at Mary Lou during her crowning ceremony in a scene very reminiscent of De Palma’s “Carrie”. This doesn’t end well as Mary Lou goes up in a blaze of glory…quite literally.
Flash forward to modern day, 1987 modern day that is, and Vicki Carpenter is getting ready for her own prom. Vicki, played with bizarre doe-eyed perfection by Wendy Lyon (who went on to provide voice-over work for the original English version of “Sailor Moon”), is dealing with her own Carrie White issues as her Pentecostal mother forbids her to go out and buy a sexy dress for the dance and disapproves of her rebellious boyfriend.
It isn’t long before Vicki unwittingly unleashes the vengeful spirit of Mary Lou by opening a chest in the high school’s prop room and removing the dead queens crown. It doesn’t really make sense as it happens, but anyway….Mary Lou is not a nice ghost. She wasn’t really a nice person either, so I suppose that is to be expected. Mary Lou sets about knocking off Vicki’s friends in extremely elaborate fashion. More interesting is that she begins to infiltrate Vicki’s mind and and slowly possess her. All Mary Lou wants is a second chance at the prom queen title. Hell, I’d be pissed too if my crowning moment was deboed by a putz with anger management issues. How can you blame a girl?
Once Mary Lou begins taking over our virginal heroine the movie really takes off. Wendy Lyon starts the film giving a pretty laughable performance, bulging her eyes as wide as possible to almost everything someone says to her and is just all around a wet blanket sopping up the scenery. Once she takes on the more sinister good girl gone bad role, Lyon truly sets the film ablaze. It’s a batshit performance that really does take the movie to the next level and calls into question the questionable intention of the earlier scenes by the actress. Bad acting or brilliant choice? Eh, it works. Who cares? Other than Lyons, there isn’t much to write home about in regards to the thespians on display here. We do get Michael Ironside (“Scanners”, duh) in a somewhat restrained role as the guilt ridden principal who sent Mary Lou to her demise so many years ago.
The best way to describe the experience of watching “Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2” is this is what would happen if Carrie and Freddy Krueger had a baby and named it Regan. It’s a wackadoo film that toes the line of good taste for what I assume was a studio picture. There is an outlandishly inaprops moment between father/daughter, a sexually aggressive rocking horse brought to life by some wicked effects, enough blasphemy to call this “Prom Night 2: The Heretic”, and on top of it all – it spits in the face of one of the biggest slasher movie safe zone codes; Killing a child is brutal but killing a pregnant girl is a twofer. Some scenes actually play out with a sense of dread and suspense that Pied Piper you to the edge of your seat. One of the best “got ya” moments involves a character hiding in a gym locker that ends way out of left field from what one would expect.
“Hello Mary Lou” feels like a stand alone film that got slapped with a “2” for marketing purposes only, but it manages to exceed all lack of expectation. There’s some truly great effects that would be at home in any “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel, a few moments of genuine suspense, and a climax that leaves you begging for a direct sequel. Apparently “Prom Night 3: The Last Kiss” continues the saga of Mary Lou. I’ll be adding that to my queue soon, fingers crossed it lives up to this outing. For those who thought, like me, that a sequel to “Prom Night” was about as warranted as a remake to “Prom Night” (I’m not sure which is worse, wait…yes I am. Jamie for the win!), I implore you to take the time and buy tickets to the prom. It’s a bloody good time.
“Sometimes bad girls have all the fun. Say hello, Mary Lou. It’s Prom Night 2.”