Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

Bruce Pittman

Michael Ironside - Bill Nordham
Wendy Lyon - Vicky Carpenter
Justin Louis - Craig Nordham
Lisa Schrage - Mary Lou Maloney

Year - 1987

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

In Hollywood [especially in our beloved horror genre], unnecessary sequels are made to decently successful films just to create a big buck for the studios. I mean really...was a sequel to THE HOWLING really needed just so it could tell me that someone's sister was a werewolf? Did PET SEMATARY deserve a second part just to prolong Edward Furlong's terminated career? Did Chucky really need more one-liners in CHILD'S PLAY 2? And what about that sequel to THE LEPRECHAUN? As a matter of fact, what about the original LEPRECHAUN? Was that even necessary to make? Even Jennifer Aniston would agree with me on that one. 

Yes, many undeserved sequels have been created just to create a franchise out of a film that didn't deserve one in the first place. PROM NIGHT was one of those films. It wasn't a great film by any means [it wasn't bad either] but it ended fine and didn't need an extension. HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II works around that by not even mentioning the events of the first one, creating a new story that involves supernatural possession. Is this film necessary? No. But at least it's somewhat entertaining to watch.

1957, high schooler Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) is voted Prom Queen. Unfortunately, Mary Lou dumped her rich date, Bill Nordham, or the bad boy Buddy Cooper. Bill catches on to this and feeling rejected by Mary Lou, walks above Mary Lou's coronation ceremony and throws a stinkbomb down on her. Her dress accidentally catches on fire, burning her to death. Apparently, bad girls don't die, so her spirit is trapped in a huge trunk that's inside the school [huh? What dumbass made that decision?].

30 years later, blonde shy Vicky Carpenter (Wendy Lyon) is the favorite for Prom Queen, but her overbaring religious mother and the school bully try to get her spirits down and wish her not to win. Upset by these stressors, Vicky ends up near the trunk that holds Mary Lou's evil spirit. Like the smart blonde that she is [yeah right], Vicky opens the trunk and unleashes Mary Lou, who eventually possesses Vicky to get her revenge for 30 years ago. Her main target is the man who murdered her, Bill Nordham (Michael Ironside), who happens to be the High School Principal and the father of Vicky's boyfriend.

I used to really like this film when I was younger, but now? Eh, it's aight. Not great, but not horrible. It's like watching bits of CARRIE, THE EXORCIST, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in one 90 minute film. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. Everything about this film is a cliche. From the one-dimensional characters who either want sex or power [but knowing they'll be dead before they get it], to the priest who wants "the power of Christ to compel you", to the out-of-touch parents, to the shy heroine who gets bullied by the evil popular girl of the school - there's nothing new brought to the table.

Even the characters' last names are based on horror directors. It's an attempt at a homage that doesn't really work since the film takes itself seriously most of the time. Director Bruce Pittman [has he directed anything else?] points and shoots what he wants. We get shots of the dark narrow corridors, close-ups of a possessed Vicky when she uses her evil powers, and far shots of locations that should matter to the viewer. The characterization of the two main characters isn't so bad, but the others could have either lived or died [wouldn't have cared either way]. Decent suspense in this film, which helped the pacing of sequence after sequence. Pittman did his job and got a check for doing it. Nothing more I can say about his work.

The effects weren't exactly visually stunning, but for an 80s horror film, they were pretty well done. The possessed rocking horse in Vicky's room was pretty neat on screen, with it's evil red eyes and perverted tongue. Vicky being sucked into the blackboard to finalize Mary Lou's possession of her was kinda cool. Even the death scene with the computer wasn't overly cheesy. These were pretty cheap effects but they were done in the best way possible, so I can't complain about them. Actually, they make this film watchable and make it stand up against other low budget films that actually look low budget just by watching them. This was professionally made and it shows. Too bad the effects didn't make the film any scarier, because this film was far from it.

The acting was ho-hum in a ho-hum film. If two actors deserve any credit, it's the two female leads. Wendy Lyon as Vicky was pretty good as the shy, confused girl and was even better as the possessed Vicky. You kinda felt sorry for the girl. I mean, I wouldn't want someone to possess my body. If Lyon wasn't decently given a dimensional character(s) to work with, this film would have gone to crap. But she holds her own and does a good job keeping the film together. And Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou...damn. She was so evil and so seductive that I enjoyed watching her ruin people's lives. Sometimes, you don't need a life story to get behind a character. Just being a cliche is enough, especially when the actress playing it is having the time of her life doing it. And Schrage definitely was enjoying playing Mary Lou and creating havoc around her. She made a great villain and it's sad I've never seen her in anything else. She has a good presence on screen.

The other actors were okay for me. Michael Ironside looks bored here for some reason. He plays the guilty principal of the high school who can't come to grips with murdering Mary Lou when he was younger. It looked like Ironside didn't want to be involved with this film. Did they catch the man in between takes or something and use that as film footage? I mean, he was so wooden and dull that I hoped Mary Lou would get her sweet revenge on his miserable ass! He's normally a good actor though and has some moments here. But I was hoping he put more malice or more guilt into his performance. Something was lacking here, but he wasn't totally terrible.

HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II is an above average film that's good really for a rental unless you love this film. It's your standard mediocre 80s horror film that has its good parts and its bad parts. If you like brainless characters brought on screen by amateur acting performances and okay death scenes, this film is for you. If you're looking for something more intelligent and scary to watch, you might want to skip this film. HELLO MARY LOU is entertaining in its own weird way, but it's not a classic in the least. Still, it's worth a look if you love demonic prom queens.

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