Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou (1987)

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In 1957, Mary Lou Maloney is on the verge of becoming Homecoming Queen. She’s got the flowers, she’s got the sash, the only thing that’s missing is the crown. Unfortunately for Mary Lou, her boyfriend just caught her cheating on him a few minutes earlier. He decides to use what he thinks will be a harmless prank to get revenge, but the stunt ends up horrifically backfiring and Mary Lou ends up dead before the crown can even be placed on her head.

Thirty years later, Hamilton High is getting ready for another senior prom. Homecoming hopeful, Vicki, can’t convince her mother to let her buy a new dress. So she heads down into the school’s prop room in search of an outfit. While looking around, she stumbles upon an old trunk from 1957, and, wouldn’t you know it, opening it ends up unwittingly releasing Mary Lou’s vengeful soul upon the school. And let me tell you, the prom queen of yesteryear is PISSED.

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To be fair, I would be too if someone had set me on FIRE.

Prom Night 2 continues the president laid out by the first film, namely that of mashing other well-known films together to make its own thing. If the first Prom Night was a mix of Halloween and Carrie, than the second is a mix of Carrie, The Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street all rolled into one.

In fact, it so heavily resembles that last one, that it comes across more like a spiritual successor to Elm Street, and really only feels like a sequel to the original Prom Night in name only. After knocking off a couple of easy targets, Mary Lou sets her sights on taking over Vicki’s body, and ends up tormenting the poor girl with hallucinations of decrepit, ghostly school hallways,

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snot soup with (what I assume to be) Mary Lou’s head in it,

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My school cafeteria had worse. But nice try, movie.

demonic rocking horses,

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and sadistic chalkboards.

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So basically Mary Lou is channeling Freddy and doing a damn fine job of it. But unfortunately, the Freddy she’s channeling is the one that crawled out of the much maligned second entry of the franchise. So while the practical effects of the movie greatly benefit from the films souped-up budget, all that extra dough does little to benefit the story or acting. The characters are all still very cliche, the narration jumps around too fast, the story has a lot of gaps (why was Mary Lou’s soul trapped in that trunk?) and, much like the film it seems to be emulating, it’s filled with unintentionally hilarious reaction shots, presumably because even the actors had no idea what to make of this thing.

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It’s like you can pinpoint the exact moment they realized they’d made a bad career decision.

On the plus side, the cinematography has improved greatly from its predecessor, so there’s that.

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It’s a small blessing.

Prom Night 2 was originally intended to be a stand-alone horror film meant to pay tribute to other popular horror classics that came before it. There are even several references to other films in the script, and even some character names are references to horror icons (Carpenter, Craven, Romero, etc.) But at some point someone had the bright idea to re-brand it into a Prom Night sequel. Viewed as a horror movie homage, it kinda works. In that light, all the cliches make a lot more sense. But as a Prom Night sequel, it sucks. Other than repeating one line from the first movie, and having the film’s setting revolve around the prom, the two films are nothing alike. The tone is different, the villain is different, the motivation is different…. There’s just not enough to justify linking it to the original film. I still liked it though, thanks to it bat-shit insanity and a lot of campy goodness.

If you liked Nightmare on Elm Street, or are a fan of practical special effects, it probably couldn’t hurt to give this one a shot. Just don’t go in expecting anything too serious, or Mary Lou will laugh at you.

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No, seriously. She will. She’s an evil, bitchy demon. It’s what they do.

Prom Night 2 is currently streaming on Amazon.

It is also available on several DVDs, but sadly most of them look like they’re out of print.

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Michi

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