Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II begins with a flashback to 1957: Mary Lou is giving confession to a priest for having impure thoughts, engaging in sinful relations with boys at her school, taking The Lord’s name in vain and then she tells the man of God that she loved every minute of it. Shortly thereafter, right as Mary Lou is about to be crowned prom queen, the gym is set on fire and she is killed. 30 years later, a young woman named Vicki unintentionally unleashes Mary Lou’s vengeful spirit and all hell breaks loose.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is really a sequel in name only. The only tie-in to the original is that it takes place at the same school. The storyline and characters from the first film have no bearing on the outcome of the second. It essentially capitalizes on the name and then takes the franchise in a totally different direction. Prom Night II isn’t a slasher film. It’s a supernatural horror-thriller. This film could easily have been released as a standalone title but the Prom Night name provided a built in audience for the film. The already low box office yield would likely have been lower if the film were released without any ties to an existing franchise.
The tone of Prom Night II is darker and more serious than the original. But it lacks some of what worked for the its predecessor (namely Jamie Lee Curtis and a fun supporting cast). Every time I watch Prom Night II, I cannot help but think that Wendy Lyon is tragically miscast in the lead. She is much too demure to play the part of a woman possessed by a wretched and foul-mouthed spirit. The things that she says and does when she is possessed seem completely unrealistic. A big part of the problem is her soft physical appearance. But the problem is also partly due to her lack of skill as a performer. The combination of inexperience and Lyon’s demure presence make her hard to believe in the role. She isn’t so bad as to completely derail the film but it she is bad enough to get on my nerves every time I watch Prom Night II. The other performances are bearable and it was nice to see Michael Ironside as a supporting character.
The film is efficiently paced. It doesn’t take too long to establish the backstory and dive into the action. The origin story that is shown at the beginning is very brief and Prom Night II wastes little time on character development, which gives it ample time to focus on killing off the cast.
Prom Night II has a relatively high body count and, of course, uses practical gore effects. The FX are mostly good – there is one scene where a performer is very obviously wearing a rubber mask but it beats the CGI that modern movies are so frequently riddled with.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II doesn’t reinvent the horror film; in fact, it takes a lot of its cues from successful horror pictures to come before it but there are shreds of originality interspersed throughout and the decision to steer the franchise away from the slasher storyline established in the first film wasn’t a bad one. The killer in the first film wouldn’t have much left to do if the sequel were a continuation of his story, so shifting the plot line and tone actually proves to be a wise decision.
If you are a fan of ‘80s horror and you haven’t seen Prom Night II, you should check it out. It may not be the best of its kind but you could do a lot worse for 90-minutes of mindless entertainment.
Director(s): Bruce Pittman
Writer(s): Ron Oliver Wendy Lyon, Michael Ironside
Stars: Vicki Carpenter, Michael Ironside
Studio/ Production Co: NorStar Releasing
Length: 97 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Supernatural Horror