Hello Mary Lou – Prom Night II – 1987

Director Bruce Pittman
Screenwriter Ron Oliver
Starring Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Justin Louis, Lisa Schrage, Richard Monette

Life’s a joke, then you croak.

When I was younger and going to college, I worked at a video store. This worked with my burgeoning obsession with film, and of course I watched a lot of them. Although I still hadn’t quite worked out the “Only So Many More Days” idea in my head, I knew well enough to stay away from certain films. This was one of those films. The box and the commercial gave me enough reason to avoid it. I hadn’t learned the irony of enjoying bad art yet. This one is so bad, I am not sure it qualifies as art.

Vickie Carpenter (Lyon) is the perfect girl. She has a steady boyfriend (Louis), is subservient to her parents (well really just her spinster of a mother) and she’s a candidate to be prom queen of Hamilton High. Since her mother won’t let her buy a new dress for the prom, she’s relegated to looking into the props from the school’s drama department. This leads her to open a chest that has been closed since 1957, the year town harlot Mary Lou Maloney, burned to death on stage while accepting her crown as Prom Queen. The person responsible, spurned boyfriend Bill Nordham (Ironside) is now principal of the school. The guy she was unfaithful with is now a priest (Monette).

There’s a ton of weird, disconnected shit that happens subsequently. The effects range from teenage after school project to a video by Twisted Sister. There’s nothing in Hello Mary Lou, that is scary, as much as creepy.

There’s a massive rocking horse in in Vickie’s room. I don’t think there’s ever been something this large actually marketed for sale in the U.S.. Maybe it is a thing in Canada, where the film was made. There’s a full on kiss between Vickie and her father that he actually seems to savor, even after they’re caught by her mother.

Then there are the series of deaths that keep happening in and around the prom that does nothing to start any sort of investigation, much less delay or cancel the dance. They could at very minimum noticed that the lockers in the women’s locker room slammed in on Monica Waters during the middle of the day. If the goal of the film makers is to get the body count up, then they did the job…poorly.

That none of the death’s are more than just incompetently executed is one thing. They aren’t even interesting. One of the worst scenes is when someone is dragged around the prop room by a mystery cape. First it looks like she’s going to be strangled. Then she’s dragged into the line of a paper cutting tool. Then, inexplicably, the cape removes her from this winning shot and throws the girl out the window. Then the cape creeps back onto it’s own hook. So no one will suspect it?

The film feels the full result of a massive amount of reshoots. Too much of the time if feels like they slapped together a series of jejune images in the place of genuine storytelling. It’s almost like they’re trying to work in as many references to better films as they can afford to without trying to get any of them to look like something even remotely possible. My favorite is the lunch line, where the nice lady gives Vickie a big bowl of cheap gore.

The most notable aspect of the film for me is that Michael Ironside actually makes it through to the end. If he’s not necessarily living, he’s at least able to drive.

(no stars out of *****)

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