MGM // 1987 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // April 14th, 2008
An old flame returns!
It's prom night, 1957, and high school hussy Mary Lou Maloney humiliates and dumps straight-arrow Billy Nordham for the oily but sexy Buddy Cooper. Knowing that Mary Lou is about to be crowned prom queen, Billy gets his revenge by lobbing a stink bomb at her during her coronation. But things backfire when Mary Lou's dress catches fire, and the tart is toasted.
Now, it's 1987, and Bill Nordham (Michael Ironside, The Machinist) is principal of the school and has a son, Craig (Justin Louis, Saw IV), who's a senior. Craig is looking forward to his own prom and planning to take his steady, the lovely and sweet Vicki (Wendy Lyon, Kaw). When Wendy's stern mom tells her she can't buy a new dress, the girl hunts around the school's prop room to see if she can find a suitable frock. She discovers a mysterious chest filled with relics from the 1957 affair and shows them to her friends.
What she doesn't realize is that these quaint artifacts -- a plastic tiara, a moth-eaten cape, and paper sash that somehow hasn't yellowed in 30 years -- hold the key to Mary Lou's demonic soul. Soon, one girl dies a mysterious and violent death.
And the heretofore sweet-natured Vicki undergoes a drastic personality makeover.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II really isn't a slasher movie. It's more a ghostly revenge/possession film with some bloody killings sprinkled in along the way. It's all very silly and not particularly scary, but it's creepy, slightly suspenseful and intriguing, and features some inventive dispatching as well as that R-rated, '80s-style, semi-gratuitous nudity that we just don't get in horror films anymore.
Director Bruce Pittman and writer Ron Oliver give us a well-paced story with a reasonable amount of character development. While the focus is mainly on the kids, we also get a lot of scenes with the adult Nordham and Cooper (Richard Monette, I Heard the Mermaids Singing), who was so traumatized by his part in Mary Lou's fiery demise that he went on to become a priest. When good-girl Vicki finds herself possessed by maniacal Mary Lou, Father Cooper knows what evil lurks in her heart. He even performs a quick, candle-heavy exorcism, tossing around holy water and exhorting, "The power of Christ compels you!" We're glad that the good father has seen a few movies over the past 30 years; unfortunately, it doesn't help him any.
We get some well-done, unnerving scenes, including one with a possessed rocking horse, an attempted lesbian hoedown in a locker room, a disturbing touch of incest, and a near execution using a paper cutter. While Pittman leaves a lot of room for humor (generally dorky, when it's intended), he avoids turning this into a camp fest. He does have a lot of fun, though. Sight gags abound, as do references to other films and filmmakers, with characters named Carpenter, Romero, Craven, Dante, Hennenlotter, and Eddie Wood.
The film opens with a scene of Mary Lou going to confession and reciting a list of her sins to a shocked priest. When he starts giving her penance, she interrupts him to point out that she'd loved every minute of what she'd done, and then scrawls her name and phone number in lipstick in the confessional booth. This is a neat little prologue that not only introduces Mary Lou's disreputable character but also sets the tone of the movie.
Pittman gets good work from his actors. The young people are strangely ingratiating (even the class bitch, who stoops quite low in order to get the crown). Character actors Ironside and Monette are very good here, but the star is Lyon, who starts out as a typically bland heroine but transfers nicely when possessed by the begowned undead.
If I'd treated my prom date the way MGM treats this movie, she would have set me on fire -- and rightly so. This is an old-school bare bones release, without so much as a trailer for an extra. The menu screen is silent and static, the picture and audio options (mono and stereo) serviceable but unexciting.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is another fun entry from the golden age of low-budget, R-rated horror movies.
Films like this are made to be guilty.
Review content copyright © 2008 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* DVD Verdict Review - Prom Night III / Prom Night IV