Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
The obvious inspirations for this movie are Carrie and The Exorcist, but with a multi-generational twist. In a flashback sequence set in 1957, the bad-girl prom queen of Hamilton High, Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage), is accidently set on fire by her date Bill Nordham, who is upset at Mary Lou because she was threatening to go home with bad-boy Buddy Cooper.
Quicker than you can say "hackneyed, genre-required back story," the movie jumps forward 30 years and we catch up on all of our characters in the present day. Mary Lou is still dead, Buddy has become the local priest, and Bill Nordham (now played by Michael Ironsides) has become the principal of Hamilton High. Well, it's good to know that something like a little second-degree manslaughter won't stand in the way of a fulfilling career in the public education system.
Oops, did we say Mary Lou is still dead? In Hamilton High's basement a big old steamer trunk that contains the souvenirs and decorations from Mary Lou's prom is opened and Mary Lou's spirit is somehow released onto the town.
Quicker than you can say "obligatory, movie-standard troubled teen" we are introduced to Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyons). When her ridiculously puritanical mother (she would make H. P. Lovecraft look like Liberace) denies her the money for a new prom dress, Vicki goes looking in the school theater's costume department. There she discovers and opens the trunk that contains Mary Lou's dress and tiara, and a whole lot of bad mojo as well.
Quicker than you can say "gratuitous nudity," this leads to our most favoritest scene in the movie. One of Vicki's friends confronts her in the girl's locker room, and well, suffice it to say that evil ghosts inhabiting teenage girls' bodies don't wear a towel after exiting the girl's shower. Or at least they don't in crappy movies. And for that, we are very, very thankful. At least we can say we got some cheap thrills out of these 94 minutes.
The story is straightforward. Other than a few weird digressions (what purpose did that "teen pregnancy" bit serve?), there's little to complain about plot-wise -- unless you like good plots in your horror movies. Mary Lou uses Vicki's body to slaughter innocent high school students and to try to regain her title as Queen of the Prom.
Although we were mildly impressed by the special effects, the acting and dialogue were bad enough to distract us from any redeeming features the film might have had. Lyons bares her soul (and everything else) as Vicki, but she's a lttle too old to be playing a high school student. And though Schrage is obviously having the time of her life as Mary Lou, the rest of the actors are just plain terrible. The highest paid actor in the movie was obviously Michael Ironside, but even his fans will have a hard time enjoying his plywood performance. Our theory is that he signed a contract that he would get paid by the word, and the makers of Prom Night II tricked him by using only footage of Ironsides waiting between takes and tried to pass it off as Bill Nordham looking pensive. This would explain why Ironsides looks so bored, and why he has almost no dialogue until the end of the movie. The rest of the 'teenagers' (most of them appearing to be in their mid-twenties, at least) were probably recruited from the audition rejects at the local community theater. There's also a bit of dialogue about vegetable-powered radios that nearly left us in tears.
Should you be inclined to rent Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, then your tolerance for bad movies is probably already high. You'll need that tolerance to get through this cinematic travesty. The body count is nice and high, but the plot moves forward as if no one has noticed the corpses lying around. The aforementioned girls' locker room killing is never discovered or even mentioned on camera. This flick is long on stupid dialogue and short on interesting plot developments. The moviemakers want to have it both ways at once, aping the form of Carrie (paranormal killer at the prom) but not making the killer sympathetic at all. Having no one to root for during the last half of the movie makes it an exercise in watching bad actors die. It's not that we don't enjoy watching bad actors bite the dust, but this structural flaw makes even the original Prom Night look like a paragon of horror moviemaking.
Review date: 3/1/98
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