Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
Prom night is quite a ritual in American high schools. The guys rent tuxes and the girls buy expensive dresses. Then everyone goes to their high school gym and kills time until they can go out drinking and partying somewhere else. Over the years the prom has evolved, or devolved, whichever way you think it’s gone. But some things are hard to change, like the tradition of the prom queen and king. It was Stephen King’s Carrie that showed audiences their first real killer prom queen. The idea of the killer prom queen is back in Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II opens at a Catholic church in 1957. Mary Lou (Lisa Schrage), the 17-year-old title character of the film, has stopped off for a quick confession before the prom. She tells the priest she’s sinned… a lot, including having sex with many boys. She doesn’t wait to be told her penance as she announces to the shocked padre that she loved every minute and heads to the dance.
She arrives at the Hamilton High School prom and meets her date Billy Nordham. Billy gives her a ring with her initials on it. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the same love for Billy and when he goes to get her some punch, she sneaks backstage with Buddy Cooper and starts fooling around. Billy finds the pair and Mary Lou laughs in his face when he confronts her about her infidelity.
Buddy is angry and upset but not sure what to do about it. Then he stumbles on a couple of pranksters who’ve made a smoke bomb they plan to set off at the dance. After the principal scares them off, Billy takes the smoke bomb and climbs up into the scaffolding above the stage. Mary Lou is the front runner to win the title of prom queen and sure enough, she does. When she goes to be crowned, Billy drops the smoke bomb. Rather than a surprise ruining her big night, the fuse catches her dress on fire and she goes up like a Roman candle. As she burns to death on the stage she looks up and sees Billy. Mary Lou fixes her gaze on him and hate fills her eyes even as she dies.
Now it’s 1987 and Billy is now Principal Nordham (Michael Ironside). He’s still haunted by his role in Mary Lou’s death, but no one connected him to it. His son Craig (Justin Louis) is dating a popular girl named Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon). Vicki’s in the running to become prom queen. Unfortunately, and very much in a nod to Carrie, Vicki’s mother is ultra-religious and domineering. She won’t let Vicki buy a new dress for the prom, proclaiming the one she has is good enough.
Vicki knows she has to look amazing or she may lose the votes she needs to be crowned. So, not having the money to buy a new dress, she goes looking in the school’s basement for one. Apparently, Hamilton High School’s basement is just chock full of prop clothes from the drama club.
What Vicki doesn’t know is that Principal Nordham has hidden a steamer trunk full of Mary Lou’s things down there including the prom queen tiara and cape that the unfortunate girl did not get to wear. Vicki stumbles upon Mary Lou’s locked trunk, it pops open, and she takes out the crown and cape. The spirit of Mary Lou never left the school and has been imprisoned in that steamer trunk. Mary Lou wants to be prom queen and she wants revenge. Vicki is the perfect vessel for this restless evil spirit to get both! As Vicki’s friends begin dying horrible deaths and strange, supernatural events plague the school, Principal Nordham goes to see Buddy Cooper (Richard Monette) who’s now a Catholic priest. Father Cooper tells Nordham that an evil spirit is coming for him and that he should watch out. Of course, Nordham doesn’t believe it, which is too bad since he was right.
Mary Lou fully possesses Vicki and uses her form to begin really reaping her revenge on… well apparently on high school students in general since none of them were involved in her death. Still, the question becomes can anything save the Vicki and the other students of Hamilton High School from a truly killer prom night?
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is a Canadian horror film that was originally titled The Haunting of Hamilton High School but got renamed to capitalize on the success of the first film. This is unfortunate in some ways because Prom Night, while a good 80s slasher flick, was not as good as the completely unrelated film that would become its sequel.
Writer Ron Oliver and director Bruce Pitman, big horror fans themselves, put in many homages to their favorite films, including having nine characters with last names taken from famous horror writers or directors like King and Carpenter. The movie is well-written and well-acted and has some very good special effects for the gore scenes. Though it was not as successful at the box office as it probably deserved to be, it proved to be a hit on home video and became a cult classic.
So if you want to relive the memories of your own prom night, but with more supernatural demonic killing, then check out Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II. But be warned, that bloody Buddy Holiday song will get in your head and you’ll have to listen to an hour of death metal to get it out.