Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

Mary Lou is back … God help the students of Hamilton High.

A prom queen is accidentally killed by a jealous ex and she vows revenge on him from beyond the grave. Years later, he is now a principal at a high school. The spirit of the deceased prom queen possesses a girl from his school and begins to extract her bloody revenge.

 

In the horror genre, it seems that almost any film can get a sequel if a studio thinks that another few million can be made off the name. The original Prom Night was a modest hit, hardly the pinnacle of the 80s slashers and more famous for being one of Jamie Lee Curtis’ post-Halloween horror films. But it wasn’t sequel-worthy. With no connection whatsoever to the first film, Prom Night II is a cynical attempt to create some sort of franchise around the name. This wasn’t even penned as a sequel but someone decided to add the Prom Night moniker to it in the hope that audiences would flock to watch it, assuming that it was a direct sequel like so many of the bigger slasher films were receiving at the time. This annoys me to no end. The later Hellraiser sequels started off as standalone films but were given token appearances by the Cenobies so that they could be labelled as ‘sequels’ yet they bare no resemblance to the original idea that Clive Barker envisioned. The original Prom Night is hardly in the same league as Hellraiser but the painfulness of name-only sequels just shows me how much contempt studios have for fans and how gullible they think we are.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, to give it its proper title, is a startling change in direction for the series, almost on the same level as the absence of Michael Myers from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The serious slash of the original has been replaced by a sub-standard ‘revenge from beyond the grave’ theme which plays out like a cheap jack female version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. This I did not care for in the slightest. The writers have created Mary Lou as some sort of Freddy Krueger-esque one-liner spouting villain with nasty burns and who dispatches people with various creative means. The script is peppered with genre references to the likes of Carpenter, Romero and company too. Is there any real need? We know who they are. There’s no need for the writers to remind us. But when the film borrows so heavily from Craven’s classic, as well as Carrie and The Exorcist, I guess its as much about paying lip service than anything else.

By the time 1987 rolled around, the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels were too far gone in their reliance on daft special effects set pieces and junky pop culture references so it is not surprising to see how similar this film is to the same sort of hokey formula. The dream-like death sequences in this one are exactly the sort of contrived methods of dispatch that Freddy wouldn’t have given a second glance at with rocking horses coming to life and such like. In the best scene of the film, a girl hiding from Mary Lou is crushed to death between two lockers, resulting in a nice ‘squish’ moment. But the rest of the splatter isn’t much to right home about and is more on the 80s-style goofy side than the gory side. Though the dreams have a surrealist quality to them, they border too much on the camp. The film is never outright daft, playing up more like a typical 80s screwball comedy where anything goes and dated technology and references are a go.

The acting is hit-and-miss across the board with the exception of Michael Ironside, somehow cropping up as the principal of Hamilton High but looking bored in the process. Wendy Lyon seems to do most of her acting with her body and spends a lot of the film completely naked, not that I’m complaining as she has a body to die for (and many of the characters do!). Her transformation from a plain, shy heroine into the bitchy possessed Mary Lou is well done. But like everything in the film, the cornball approach to the material doesn’t take anything too seriously.

 

There’s a lot of love out there for this sequel and I’m not really sure why. Yes, the film is full of goofy 80s horror charm but I’d rather stick to Mr Krueger and his put-downs than see some female wannabe try and take his dream master crown. You might enjoy Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II if you want something a little different to the original.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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