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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
MGM // R // April 1, 2008
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Cameron McGaughy | posted May 28, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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"She talks like we're in an Elvis Presley movie..."
- Monica

The Movie
My name is Cameron, and I'm an insatiable horror movie whore. I'm a slave to slasher films...even bad ones. My standards are low--I'm talking back-breaking low. I even liked Hide and Go Shriek, people! (The elevator scene? Classic!) And I'm stunned that so many people hated the Black Christmas remake, which I found to be highly entertaining and self-aware.

But two weeks ago, I made one of the most regrettable movie-going decisions of my life. Even though I had heard all of the awful buzz, I still paid full price to see the 2008 version of Prom Night on it's last evening in our local theaters. When I got home, my mind numb from the utterly inept Sweet Valley High take on horror, I reached for a remedy. The Jamie Lee Curtis original was in my sight...but I was stopped by a recent, unopened purchase: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, a film I actually saw in the theater during its 12-minute run in 1987.

At the time, I was disappointed. My 13-year-old eyes wanted a slasher sequel, but naive me got an unrelated supernatural story instead. The film a distant memory (it was previously only available in Canada on a horrid pan-and-scan release from Alliance Atlantis), I delightedly decided to pop this baby in and give it another go. The result? Bad movie bliss.

This, my friends, is Carrie on crack. Cheap crack. It's oh-so-bad, but it knows it's bad. Director Bruce Pittman clearly loves the genre, having crafted a horror homage that references an endless supply of films like The Exorcist, Alien, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Evil Dead. Even directors Carpenter and Craven get shout-outs, while a minor character is named Eddie Wood and the class bitch's last name is Hennenlotter, a nod to Basket Case/Brain Damage/Frankenhooker director Frank. That gives you an idea of what you're getting yourself into, and lord knows how many references went over my head.

"They're all gonna laugh at you!"

But this owes the most to Brian De Palma's 1976 classic, featuring a prom queen prank, a hilarious high school gym volleyball scene, a religiously devout mother ("She's not sick...she just needs to spend time with the lord!") and a finale that would make Sissy Spacek roll over in her movie grave. The only connection to its 1980 namesake is a line borrowed from mean girl Wendy (Anne-Marie Martin, then known as Eddie Benton): "It's not who you come with, it's who takes you home."

Let's get physical! Physical!

The fun starts in 1957 with my favorite confessional scene ever (btw, if you're a really devout Catholic, ya might want to skip a few parts of this movie). We're soon off to the Hamilton High prom, where slutty Mary Lou Maloney (the delicious Lisa Schrage, who I wish had more screen time) quickly ditches date Billy in favor of getting fingered behind the stage by Cooper. The enraged Billy decides to teach Mary Lou a lesson, tossing down a stink bomb during her crowing moment--and inadvertently setting her ablaze.

What, no Tab?!

Fast forward to the present, where good girl Vicki (Wendy Lyon) is in desperate need of a prom dress. Upon receiving advice from pal Jess (sporting a wall of hair that would do Marge Simpson proud), Vicki heads to the school's prop room and opens a mysterious trunk that unleashes the wrath of Mary Lou. Soon, her cape, crown and spirit wreak havoc on the student body. Poor Vicki starts to have hellish visions, eventually getting possessed. The development gives Lyon a chance to vamp it up: she wears poodle skirts and lipstick, says things like "scram" and "swell", puts sugar in her coffee and swears like a sailor on leave. It's fun to watch her crimped hair get more unkempt as the film progresses--this film's form of character development.

She totally forgot the fabric softener...

The transformation soon catches the attention of grown-up Billy (Michael Ironside, whose turn in Visiting Hours still haunts me...this guy is Ray Liotta creepy). He is now Hamilton's principal. As for Cooper (Richard Monette)? He's now a father...the Catholic kind (in case you're really dumb, the film repeatedly hits their identities over your head with a sledgehammer). Cooper tries to warn Billy, the father of Vicki's boyfriend Craig (Justin Louis, who has appeared in tons of TV shows, and genre films like Saw IV and the Dawn of the Dead remake). All three have become Mary Lou's biggest targets.

Gore fans will be disappointed, as Pittman decides to cut away during the carnage. But fear not! You get effects...ones so bad I can only assume they were done by really talented elementary school students. There's a hilarious blackboard transformation (why even try to hide the fabric?); a collapsing row of lockers (gleefully paired with Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti"); a super-tight bed sheet tuck (the terror!); a volleyball net turned spider web (accompanied by chanting Robert Palmer chicks); a rocking horse that (barely) comes to life (Vicki straddles it to get some hand-on-tongue action); the worst Linda Blair head-turning tribute you'll ever see; and an electrocution from a computer that makes the Commodore 64 look high-tech.

Chalk it up to those pink pants...

You also get a lesbian shower scene out of left field, an uncomfortably funny incest scene (nothing makes me laugh like incest comedy!), a demon chant from Cooper with random words strung together (I thought they might be condom brands, but The Simpsons would never steal material, right?), a Bunsen burner mishap that gives new meaning to the term "fire crotch" and the funniest answer ever to the question, "Where are my shoes?"

Love the tie!

This film is unabashedly '80s, featuring enough hairstyles, clothes and dialogue ("I spent $64 on my hair, Dave...you mess it up, I'll kill you!") to chew on during repeated viewings. It's also Canadian, which means the money looks silly and the actors say "sorry" all funny-like. As for the sexually charged zingers? They are fast and frequent. After a failed attempt to rig the prom queen votes, Kelly is asked a question by her boyfriend that is pure comic gold!

You'll never guess why she needs this...

And where else can you find such delicious dialogue:

Kelly, supervising the posting of prom queen flyers: "That's fine guys, just fine!"
Dave, touching Kelly: "Looks pretty well-hung to me."
Kelly: "Don't touch the queen!"
Monica: "You'd be the first who didn't..."
Kelly: "The competition seems to be dwindling. You two should take the hint from [dead] Jess!"
Vicki: "You shut your f#@!$^* mouth, bitch!"

Oh...my...God...

Actor Brock Simpson, who plays Josh here, appeared in the original as one of the children, and in both direct-to-video sequels: The Last Kiss (Part III) and Deliver Us from Evil (Part IV). The fun, full-tilt score was done by Paul Zaza, who also did the music for Prom Night circa 1980, as well as Canadian slasher staples My Bloody Valentine and Curtains (which I'm praying gets a DVD release some day). And you also get a little of Ricky Nelson's song, too! (Maybe that's why they had the wild horse?)

Give Pittman his due: He sets up a few colorful, campy shots, and has a true love for horror films. Even though Hello Mary Lou is low-budget, it's still a cool ride. It's clear everyone here is having fun, and this awful movie is awfully entertaining.

"Your lights are on, but you're not home..."

The DVD

Video:
Previously available on a pretty bad full-frame transfer from the Alliance Atlantis label in Canada, this thankfully presents the film in its original 1.85:1 ratio, enhanced for widescreen TVs. There are still huge amounts of grain, but it looks a lot better than it did on that 2003 release.

Umm...mealy!

Audio:
Mono and stereo options don't give you too much excitement, but they suffice. English, French and Spanish subtitles are available ("¡Su madre cose medias en el infierno, padre Karras!").

Must...have...crown!

Extras:
Huh? You were expecting something here? You're funny!

Canadian money? The horror!!!

Final Thoughts:
So bad it's good, this cheap, campy 1987 sequel in name only is made by people who love horror films. Bolstered by awful effects, '80s fashion, sexual zingers and tributes to some of the genre's greatest films, it's a gleefully self-aware exercise in absurdity. Recommended, if you dare!

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