Sunday, March 27, 2016

HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II (1987)


Rated R
Running time: 97 min.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is an unofficial sequel to Prom Night, our previous review. The original title of the film was The Haunting of Hamilton High, but when distributor Alliance Films wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the original film, they changed the name. So if you were around in 1987, and wanted to see what you thought was the sequel to Prom Night, you were treated to this movie. Then when it was over, you were possibly left in your seat, staring blankly at the screen, wondering what you just witnessed.

The movie starts in 1957, with Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) confessing her sins to a priest. Rather than saying twenty Hail Marys, she has opted for the less subtle approach of letting the priest know that she enjoyed every minute of her sins, and even leaves her phone number written inside the confessional in lipstick. What a slut! She attends prom with young Billy Nordham, but you see, Billy is a sucker and Mary Lou is just using him and she has run off backstage with Buddy Cooper. Billy finds them and is rightfully pissed. Later on, Mary Lou is crowned prom queen and while she is being coronated, Billy decides to drop a stink bomb on her from the rafters. Unfortunately, the lit fuse catches Mary Lou's dress and she goes up in flames and dies. Before she dies, she manages to casually turn her eyes to the rafters to see Billy up there, immediately regretting his decision to commit manslaughter.

Flash forward to 1987, as Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon) is preparing to attend prom with Craig Nordham (Justin Louis), who happens to be the son of THE Billy Nordham (Michael Ironside), prom ruiner extraordinaire and now school principal. Vicki is the daughter of a domineering and zealously religious mother and a wishy-washy father, and mom won't allow Vicki to buy a new dress. Vicki and her friend Jess (Beth Gonek) plan on checking out the school prop room for some possibly cool stuff, but Jess reveals that she has been knocked up by some guy who won't return her calls. Vicki goes to the prop room alone and finds a trunk, which she pries open. It turns out that the trunk contains the NOT AT ALL BURNED sash, cape, ring and crown of our crispy-fried Mary Lou. Shouldn't these items be in some police evidence room rather than locked up in a trunk in some school? Oh yeah, the trunk also contained the evil spirit of Mary Lou. Jess finds the items when Vicki leaves them behind and pries a stone from the crown which totally ruins evil, invisible Mary Lou's day, so she strings Jess up via cape and hangs her, then throws her body out a window for good measure. Good news, Jess: You're no longer pregnant. Cause of death: an apparent suicide.

Soon after, Vicki starts having hallucinations which would make even the staunchest German expressionist say "Get off the drugs, girl.". She confides in the local priest, who turns out to be Father Buddy Cooper, the same guy that Mary Lou cheated on young Billy with on that fateful night in 1957. Buddy thinks Mary Lou might be back, and his fears are validated when he visits her gravesite and his Bible goes up in flames. Buddy then visits Billy about this situation, but Billy kicks him out of his house, refusing to believe his story. Meanwhile, Vicki serves detention for slapping her rival for prom queen, Kelly (Terri Hawkes) during class. While sitting in detention, the chalkboard turns to liquid and pulls Vicki in. I will allow you a moment to re-read the previous sentence..........................................Actually, it was a neat visual effect that was reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street. At this point, Mary Lou has fully possessed the body of Vicki and we start the strange behavior and the body count. Can anybody stop the rampage of a teenager who wants to be prom queen?

I guess this proves the old Bavarian saying: "A girl and her rocking horse are soon together."
 

This was one nutty movie. What struck me was some of the imagery in Vicki's hallucinations. It was very reminiscent of images you would find in A Nightmare on Elm Street, so in that way, this movie felt like an homage to that film series. The movie mixed the slasher genre with the psychological torture featured in Nightmare, but did so in a way that felt original. Another thing in this film's favor was how it kept a sense of humor throughout. In one scene, the Mary Lou-possessed Vicki makes out with her father and it felt so audacious; the reincarnated Mary Lou climbs out of Vicki's body in another inventive scene. There were a few references to some horror movies that came before this one: "Your mother sews socks in Hell, Father Karras!".

This movie was anything but dull. Even the closing scene was provided with evil glee and a wink at the camera. Funny, weird, clever, creative, stupid and made with admiration for it's predecessors. The actors looked like they believed in the material and had fun with it. Director Bruce Pittman crafted some delicious set pieces while Ron Oliver's screenplay dripped with over-the-top imagination.

If you're looking for the sequel to Prom Night, this isn't it.

Score: 3.5/5



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