Thursday, September 19, 2019

Horror Watch: Hello Mary Lou - Prom Night 2 (1987)

Watched:  09/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

I sometimes listen to the How Did This Get Made? podcast, but usually only to episodes featuring movies I've seen.  And it may be a testament to my poor choice in movie viewing that I've seen about 2/3rds of the movies the show covers.  But, I had not seen Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987), which they covered with very special guest stars, Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron.

I'm not sure I share their unbridled enthusiasm for the movie, but as a post-Carrie, post Nightmare on Elm Street, mid-horro-budget Canadian horror film - I could see the charm in the movie.

Essentially, in 1957 a very wayward Mary Lou is accidentally set ablaze just as she's set to be crowned Prom Queen of Hamilton High.  Her boyfriend finds her about to have sex with another student at prom (it seems she's been doing this and this is the first he's caught her), and when he tries to take revenge by throwing a stink-bomb at her, the taffeta of the dress goes up like a bonfire (the boyfriend is not caught).

Flash forward to 1987, and that same boyfriend is now Michael Ironside, Principal of Hamilton High.  His son is dating Vicki, who is in the running for Prom Queen (somehow.  She seems kinda dull, honestly).  Mary Lou's spirit escapes from the other side and inhabits Vicki, slowly taking more and more control of her.  And, of course, when she's in control, she kills a lot of people using a wide array of supernatural powers.

Honestly, the movie is a lot of fun.  There's a certain low-budget vibe in a lot of places.  See: you blew the casting budget on just Michael Ironside (which, honestly, I totally get), but what they *did* have, they managed to get every penny on screen.  It's a good looking movie with nice FX in a lot of places.  The script mostly just works (there's some very 80's dialog that lands like camp now, and kinda was then, sorta), we have our terrific set-up in 1957, a few events that set things in motion in 87, and we're off to the races.  Mary Lou's ghost is a crazy, creepy, unpredictable force of super-nature, and our teens are just gonna get bumped off getting in her way.

The cast is, as I mentioned, unknowns - at least here in the US.  The movie was filmed in Canada, and I had questions about whether it took place in Canada or not - my memory of money being shown in the film says "yes, this is the land of maple and mooses".  But ghosts can appear in Canada, too.  Anyway - IMDB actually says almost everyone from this worked for a while or is still working, so, good on these hosers.

I am flat out not into horror that's all jump scares or people getting tortured.  Frankly, I don't get it, and I'm not wired to think that's worth my time when movies that bother with stories or make themselves at least fun enough to watch are out there - especially horror films.  This one definitely tilts toward "fun to watch".  Sure, there's murder, mayhem and gore, ham-handed photocopies of Carrie's religious oppression and some casting that makes you wonder who all was available to the filmmakers.  But it's got it's charms, original ideas and set-pieces, and I salute the FX and finale.

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