October Horrorshow: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II

This movie may have a hell of a title, but a title like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II also betrays itself as 1980s schlock horror before a viewer sees a single frame. But, so what? The ’80s were a second golden age for horror, when it seemed every week brought something either new or outrageous. Prom Night II, from 1987, is a sequel to the Jamie Lee Curtis flick from 1980, but it owes allegiance in title only. None of the characters from the original appear, and this movie takes place at an entirely different high school.

As before, this movie opens in prologue, as viewers are shown prom night, 1957. The prom queen is Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage). Far from being a wholesome teen, she’s a hell-raiser, blithely ditching her date to get some random nookie behind the stage. Mary Lou’s betrayals lead to a nasty moment as she accepts her crown and is burned to death by her jilted boyfriend. It’s a nasty way to go, and, as it turns out, leads Mary Lou to becoming a vengeful spirit.

Fast forward thirty years into the future, and the town has largely forgotten about Mary Lou. But, some plot contrivances allow Mary Lou’s spirit to awaken and possess the body of Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon), a current student at the school. Vicki is a bit of a stick in the mud, but that all begins to change when the promiscuous Mary Lou begins calling the shots. The extreme contrast between the two is what passes for character development in this flick. That may feel lazy, but perhaps it’s more a case of expediency than anything else.

Whereas Prom Night was a straight slasher flick, Prom Night II delves into the supernatural, but doesn’t really commit to it. That’s not uncommon in slasher flicks, if one were to think about it. Jason Vorhees and Freddie Krueger all started out their canons as flesh and blood killers, but our experiences out in the real world tell us that no person can be as relentless as a film slasher. This cognitive dissonance inevitably led to slashers being hopped up ghosts, of a sort; inter-dimensional beings who are too evil to be contained by the afterlife, and who seem to spend eternity waiting for violations of esoteric rules that bring them to life to wreak their revenge on teenagers. Mary Lou is no different, choosing to spend most of her time back on earth chasing down and murdering everyone who is NOT connected with her death.

The most important aspect of this film, then, is not the plot, but the repeating set pieces when Mary Lou, via Vicki, makes her kills. It’s not a very intelligent way to make a movie, but it is entertaining.

Prom Night II is one of an endless batch of anonymous horror flicks. This film is so anonymous, in fact, that I had a hard time finding a copy when I decided to watch it. As of this writing, Netflix doesn’t have it. Neither does iTunes, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. I didn’t want to buy a hard copy of a movie I would only watch once, so a DVD was out. I decided to steal it. But, guess what? The only torrent I could find is six years old and has zero seeders. I finally found the film, in whole, on YouTube…only in Portuguese. A little further digging and I found the original English dub. I find it somewhat amazing that here, in 2014, the most reliable outlets for instant content were unable, collectively, to provide the one film I wanted to see at that moment. Prom Night II is mostly garbage, boosted only by the types of gratuitous nudity twelve-year old me would have loved, but it became more interesting because it was so hard to find. Remember when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner found the emerald inside the bunny statue? It was a bit like that, only with no emerald.

Alien: Resurrection is a better movie than Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II.