Who knew there were four, count ’em four, Prom Night movies? In what’s probably the least heralded slasher franchise ever, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is a singular achievement and best series entry, which might be the most back-handed compliment ever doled out on this site.
This minor Canadian classic lurches out of the gate with, what else? A prologue! Prologues are so ubiquitous in horror, that there are even prologue sub-sets. Here, much like in Pledge Night or The House on Sorority Row, it’s a PRANK GONE HORRIBLY WRONG.
We’re hangin’ at Hamilton High, where the “high” could not only stand for highschool but double as a reference to the foreheads of the seniors, who look aged beyond their years. It’s the 60s, we’re male pattern baldness-boogieing to the strains of Little Richard, and one rambunctious fellow, Billy, thinks it’d be hilarious to let off a stink bomb. Was this a thing? Perhaps before our time? (That 70s Show also featured an episode where a stink bomb was deployed by Fez). No matter.
The incendiary devices goes off during the high school dance, lighting up the curtains and immolating the prom queen, who burns in a kind of effigy: A-Wop-bop-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo and she’s toast. Burnt toast.
Flash forward to the 80s, and Billy the stink bomb tosser (who’s also a tosser, Brit slang-wise) is now the principal! And lucky viewers are treated to the unhinged Canuck b-movie staple, Michael Ironside portraying him…
And he and the rest of the school community have to cope with restless spirit of the titular prom queen, who is not to be trifled with. Chimerical Mary Lou inhabits the body of blonde high-schooler Vicki, and starts killing off her friends.
Prom Night II has a dreamlike quality, and there are parallels to A Nightmare on Elm Street, particularly the first and the third. These qualities really push it into another category of film, rather than the more straight ahead slasher that was its predecessor. Of particular note, the rocking horse sequences, where of course, equine archetypes are a surrogate for power and burgeoning sexuality.
There’s a truly unique and innovative kill, which we proudly chronicle in our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.
Hurt locker, fo’ sho’.
*** (out of 5)
[Check out our discussion of Prom Night II on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]