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John’s Horror Corner: Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou (1987), a very Nightmare on Elm Street-ish makeover for the classic slasher source material.

September 25, 2022

MY CALL:  So much more exciting than its 1980 predecessor, and more fun, gory and campy like a Freddy Krueger sequel. This was a blast!  MORE MOVIES LIKE Prom Night II: First off, I’d skip the remake Prom Night (2008) and even the original Prom Night (1980). I’d avoid even associating this with the slasher subgenre, lest we deviate to the supernatural demon slasher Freddy Krueger… in which case I’d recommend the Krueger sequels A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 2-5 (1985-87; podcast discussions).

From the time we meet her in a 1957 Catholic confession booth, we learn right away that high school prom queen Mary Lou (Lisa Schrage; Food of the Gods II) is no angel. In fact, quite the opposite, and proud of it! When a vengeful prank from scorned boyfriend Bill accidently leads to Mary Lou horribly burning to death, her vile spirit is trapped in the high school basement and her killer eventually grows up and becomes the principal of their high school.

So 30 years later, Principal Bill Nordham’s (Michael Ironside; Still/Born, Extraterrestrial, Scanners, Turbo Kid) son Craig (Louis Ferreira; Dawn of the Dead, Sav IV) is taking Vicki (Wendy Lyon; The Shape of Water, Kaw) to the prom. And when Vicki accidentally opens an old trunk entrapping Mary Lou’s essence, she and Mary Lou become connected.

Director Bruce Pittman (Maniac Mansion) does not come from an impressive horror pedigree. However, from the opening scenes and effects during Mary Lou’s fiery death, I’m inclined to call this superior to the original Prom Night (1980) in overall entertainment value. Despite some expected, classic 80s death scene hokiness, the subsequent kills remain at a superior level to the low bar set in 1980.

With chalk boards turning into gravity-defiant pools of death with drowning arms reaching out, murderous animated bedsheets, a demonic rocking horse with an inappropriate tongue, and what appears to be the Upside Down evil version Vicki’s high school… the nightmarish daydream sequences and evil imagery harken a very strong influence from A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 1-3 (1984-87). The same similarity can be recognized for the death scenes themselves. So whereas Prom Night part I was very much a typical mysterious 80s slasher, part II felt rather clearly like a Freddy Kruegerless Elm Street sequel. Let’s not forget that our vengeful evil spirit was burned to death by the father of our protagonist’s boyfriend, not unlike John Saxon’s relationship with Fred Krueger.

Once fully possessed by Mary Lou, Vicki’s body becomes a vessel of revenge on those who wronged her decades ago as well as a vessel of sultry desire. But this film focuses more on classic Freddy-like shenanigans rather than devolving into a cheap sexy succubus killer movie. My favorite death scene was probably the simplest: the gym locker crush, complete with gooey pink sludge oozing out of the vent! Delicious.

For 80s horror, the pacing is really solid. There’s a lot of good horror action, diversity of effects, and not even the innocent are safe from Mary Lou’s wrath. And yet somehow this movie just keeps getting yet better! The finale has a gore-slathered Mary Lou literally ripping her way out from inside Vicki’s body. So wonderfully gross, it feels like Carrie (1976) meets Demons (1985).

This is the rare sequel that is completely unlike its predecessor and also vastly superior in most every possible way. I really enjoyed this!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2022 2:15 pm

    For reasons I can’t really remember/explain I loved this movie as a kid – my friends got sick of me wanting to watch it on VHS

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 27, 2022 4:50 pm

      Well now that I’ve finally seen it, I’m an instant fan. I feel quite the same! Surprisingly good.

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