In 1957, Hamilton High School’s prom queen got flambeed. Now she’s back and she’s burning mad!
It’s been 30 years since bad girl Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) was accidentally torched by her ex-boyfriend Bill Nordham (Michael Ironside) just before she was about to be crowned prom queen. Bill is now Hamilton High’s principal and his son, Craig (Justin Louis) is dating this year’s hopeful queen, good girl Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon). When Vicki finds an old dress perfect for the prom – trouble begins. Mary Lou’s spirit possesses Vicki’s body and a torrent of fury is unleashed on everyone in town. With or without a tiara, Mary Lou is going to make prom night hot!
eyelights: its campiness. its nods to other horror franchises.
eyesores: its poor establishment of time.
“Be gone? Come on! There’s no God, Buddy! And there is no Heaven. And do you know what pissed me off the most? NO FUCKING WINGS!”
‘Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II’ was the first horror movie that I saw in cinemas. It was also one of the first horror movies I ever saw (by then, I think I’d only seen ‘Friday the 13th‘, ‘Psycho II‘ and parts of ‘Return of the Living Dead‘). I think my only impetus for seeing it was that I had picked a free pass for two, so it was a cheap night out for a bud and me.
We had no idea what to expect, and paid absolutely no mind to the fact that this was apparently the second part of a series. We didn’t care. It was free. And we had a blast watching it, laughing at all the corny jokes and outrageous special effects. Through the years, it’s become a bit of a midnight movie favourite of mine; it’s a guilty pleasure.
‘Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II’ has almost nothing to do with the original. The only thing in common is this one recurring line, “It’s not who you come with, it’s who takes you home.” (which made more sense in the original, anyway, given that it was about a psycho killer: there was an ominous suggestion that danger lurked – and might follow you home. Eek).
Originally titled “The Haunting of Hamilton High” (and changed for commercial reasons), this entry in the series is a ghost story. It’s about a bitchy prom queen who died in a prom night mishap in 1957 and whose spirit is released thirty years later. Still seeking the tiara, she will do anything to get it, all the while seeking revenge on the people who caused her death.
With its possessed prom queen and imaginative fantasy sequences, the movie comes across as a mixture of ‘Carrie‘, ‘The Nightmare on Elm Street’ and, to a lesser degree, ‘The Exorcist’. Unsurprisingly, it also does a few nods to horror film directors by naming its characters after them. Clearly, ‘Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II’ was clearly winking at is audience.
And, although it’s a supernatural horror film, it’s not meant to be taken too seriously – just seriously enough. It’s filled with plenty of corny one-liners and (unintentional?) jokes. It’s also riddled with clichés and genre conventions – which is actually amusing here for some reason. Frankly, I wouldn’t even be surprised to find out that ‘HMLPN2’ was meant to be camp.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the movie’s key, and decidedly familiar,
- Mary Lou: an unapologetic bad girl, and queen of the prom of 1957, she dies in a horrible accident and returns 30 years later to exact her revenge – and to be crowned once and for all. A girl’s gotta have goals.
- Vicky: a sweet, good-natured girl, and our protagonist, Vicky is an average teenager looking forward to her upcoming prom and life after high school. And hopefully reconsidering her fashion sense.
- Vicky’s mom: a stern, uptight woman, she imposes religion on this joyless household at every possible turn. She’s more fun than a month of dysentery. Um, maybe not.
- Vicky’s dad: a seriously whipped, personality-less man, he’s in Vicky’s corner but his mouse-sized cojones won’t allow him to stand up to his spouse.
- Vicky’s bf: Craig is a fairly average kid who drives a motorcycle and likes to do auto repair on his time off. He has no idea what is going on. A real catch, basically.
- Vicky’s bff: Monica is a pretty girl who doesn’t understand why she’s still single, even though her rude and dismissive attitude is apparent to everyone else. What’s not to like?
- Vicky’s friend: Jess is an angsty, artsy girl. She’s all wound up because, lo and behold, she got pregnant and the guy won’t return her calls. Oh, what is she to do?
- The science geek: Josh is an ambitious but not entirely successful science whiz. Still, he’s not entirely unsuccessful at getting some – even if it means blackmail.
- The catty nemesis: Kelly is the prototypical byatch, always putting others down to make herself feel better, and boasting about any miniscule “achievement”. She wants to be queen of the prom, of course – but who wants to bet that she won’t be?
- The school principal: Billy was Mary Lou’s boyfriend back in ’57 and is largely to blame for her death. He begins to suspect that she has returned from the dead, so he broods about it. How he got to work at this same school instead going to jail is hilarious.
- The local priest: Buddy was once the school’s bad boy and he was having an affair with Mary Lou – hence why she had to die. Distraught over her death, he naturally decided that there would be no other and joined the priesthood! But can he convince anyone that she’s back?
And now for a brief, but devilish, death count (beware of MASSIVE spoilers):
- Mary Lou: Mary Lou is set alight and left to burn into crispy bacon bits. Mmmm…. bacon!
- Vicky: She dies, and then doesn’t. After having possessed her, Mary Lou eventually tears through her and climbs out of Vicky’s carcass (What? That old thing…?). But she mysteriously returns when Mary Lou finally goes away. It was just a flesh wound, apparently.
- Vicky’s mom: She gets shot out of the front door in broad daylight. Unsurprisingly, no one seems to notice or care.
- Vicky’s dad: He survives, but his spirit was annihilated a long, long time ago.
- Vicky’s bf: He doesn’t die, but he gets whacked around a few times. Even his dad gave him a beating. A real catch.
- Vicky’s bff: Monica hides from Vicky/Mary Lou in a school locker (she’s a puny lil’ thing). But Mary Lou knows where to find her and, no sooner can Vicky say “A wop baba loo bop, a wop bam…”, that a telekinetic force crushes the lockers so violently that pink slime oozes out. SMOOSH! It’s so wild and stupid that we laughed our asses off at the big screen! I still chuckle now.
- Vicky’s friend: Jess made one fatal mistake: she messed with Mary Lou’s tiara! So she deserved to die!!! She came close to being beheaded on a paper cutting board but, alas, she was merely hanged and then thrown out of the window. Disappointing, really.
- The science nerd: After helping Kelly at the prom, electricity shoots out of his computer and melts his face off. Shocking.
- The catty nemesis: Sadly, she only gets impaled with a neon light. At least no one could ever say she wasn’t bright enough.
- The school principal: Billy doesn’t die. But he gets his soul sucked out by Mary Lou, we soon find out – in a finale reminiscent of “The Nightmare on Elm Street’.
- The local priest: Buddy gets his face stabby-stabbed with a crucifix. It’s better than the alternative, I’d say (ex: the nasty crucifix business from ‘The Exorcist’).
‘Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II’ contains a few spectacular elements that I will not soon forget:
- I really love Vicky’s detention scene – in a so-bad-it’s-good sorta way. It’s risible enough that she’s sent to detention for slapping Kelly (who deserved it, let’s face it, but didn’t also get detention!), but the whirlpool blackboard sequence is a classic!
- Vicky’s creepy rocking horse. It’s a ridiculous touch (I mean, what 18-year-old has a rocking horse in their bedroom, anyway?), but I love seeing that red-eyed, drooling beast, sticking its sticky tongue out like a demented hillbilly. Especially while Vicky pets it. Ha! Too funny!
- I don’t understand why Monica suddenly becomes wary of Vicky, but I love that Vicky joins her in the shower to apologize and the scene gets all homoerotic. Yum. Monica SUPER overreacts. Friggin homophobe! So she runs away – after which there’s plenty of full frontal as Vicky chases her around. This is not exploitative: the plot demanded it.
- Michael Ironside is bad ass. I don’t care that he’s a poor man’s Jack Nicholson, or the action hero version of Jack: he’s awesome. And I can’t reiterate enough how much I enjoyed watching him bash his son across the head to get him out of the way!!! Made total sense: what else are you gonna do with a kid like that?
The movie also raises all sorts of existential (not really!) questions:
- If Mary Lou is the queen of the prom, meaning that she’s popular, why doesn’t anyone but Buddy try to help her when she bacons out?
- How is it that Mary Lou’s cape and tiara were not damaged in the fire? How could they still be around 30 years later?
- Why is it that everyone dies these violent, unsubtle deaths and no one seems to notice? Don’t these people have loved ones or friends? At the very least, doesn’t the school have a janitor?
- Why is Vicky having all sorts of horrific visions of a decrepit school, zombie-like students, a water fountain filled with blood, and a spider web volleyball net? Drugs. You can always drugs.
- Who goes for confession after dinner? Is this a thing in some parts of the United States? “Father, I have sinned. I’ve had one too many dinner rolls. And a second serving of pudding.”
- Did Mary Lou’s spirit have any effect on the passage of time? Why is it night in one moment, and broad daylight in another. For instance, Vicky goes to confession and it’s dark out. Then she’s in her bedroom and it’s light out (and, yes, bedtime has been established by the fact that her parents run in with their bedclothes on). Then she goes to Mary Lou’s grave, and it’s night. Ha!
‘Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II’ is a silly film – sometimes intentionally so, sometimes not. But, aside from the poor passage of time I do enjoy watching it; it has its moments. You really have to enjoy b-movies to get the most out of this one, though. This is not a movie for an average audience, who would likely roll their eyes at it and turn the television off.
Still, it’s obviously not a guilty pleasure for just me: it’s been rereleased on home video countless times. And, get this: the series continued with two more sequels. Heheheh…
“See you later, alligator!”
Date of viewing: April 23, 2014