Friday, July 9, 2010

Childhood Horror Memories: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 and Sleepaway Camp 2

My parents, as far as I recall, never put any real restrictions on my movie or TV watching. My mother was, oddly, vehemently against Ren and Stimpy, but as for horror movies, they seemed to trust that I could handle it. I wasn't as into horror movies then, just an occasional one here and there. Most kids I knew weren't allowed to watch any Rated R movies for the longest time - whereas I have a clear memory of watching Basic Instinct with my parents in the room and them making fun of me for getting uncomfortable at the "sexy parts."

My best friend for most of my childhood was Erin. Her mom was one of those strict parents that wouldn't let her watch R movies, so naturally, whenever she spent the night at my house, we would rent the goriest movies we could find. And soon, we found some real winners - two movies that we rented literally every time she came over. Little did I know what good taste we had in movies back then!

The two horror movies that we absolutely loved were Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 and Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers (SPOILERS are ahead for both films). I know these movies now under the category of "campy cult classics" (still love them both, and they are proudly in my DVD collection) but back then these were our rebellion against strict parents - okay, not MY rebellion, it was more hers, but I totally enjoyed being a part of that rebellion! We would go to the video store and quickly grab these two movies without ever looking around. Strangely, neither of them ever seemed to be rented out.

Hello Mary Lou synopsis: Mid 1950's, it is prom night and the prom queen shoo-in and requisite popular bitch, Mary Lou Maloney, shows up at the prom with one dude, but bangs another dude at the prom. The first dude is pissed and inadvertently sets Mary Lou on fire when she's on stage about to be crowned prom queen. Everyone just stares at her  and doesn't try to help and she dies. Flash-forward to the present (well, 1987) and Vicki something-or-other is the new shoo-in for prom queen. She finds some old dress in the school's costume shop and releases the angry spirit of Mary Lou. Eventually Mary Lou takes over Vicki's body and everybody wears bad 80's clothes and too much AquaNet.

I don't know how exactly Hello Mary Lou is a sequel to Prom Night because the two movies couldn't be any more different, besides the prom thing. HML is gory as hell, much more than you would think. Of the one time I sat through the original Prom Night, all I remember is it being very dark (and I don't mean metaphorically) and hella boring. HML has some killer special effects sequences. Highlights include:

1) LOCKER SMOOSHING. Naked, possessed Vicki first tries to make out with her friend in the shower then chases her around the locker room. When she finds out what locker she's hiding in, Vicki sings "A-whomp bomp-a loo bomp, a-whomp bam BOOM" and smooshes her friend with the lockers on either side of her, telekinetically. Some pinkish sludgey stuff squishes out. Ewwwwwwww.

2) SWIMMING IN THE CHALKBOARD. Just a cool-looking scene. It's where Vicki becomes "officially" possessed by Mary Lou.

3) PERVERTED ROCKING HORSE. Likes to lick the fingers of teenage girls. Perv. But Mary Lou was kind of a slut in her day, so I don't think she minded. She made Vicki's body make out with her own father, for pity's sake.

4) THE GROSSEST FINALE EVER. Possessed Vicki is on stage at the prom waiting to accept the beloved flowers and crown. Yea! But oh no, there's Michael Ironside, the dude from 30 years ago that killed Mary Lou! So he knows Vicki is possessed by Mary Lou and he shoots her. As Vicki's lame bf rushes to her side, a hideously burnt-up (and kind of juicy) Mary Lou-ghost literally PUNCHES her way out of Vicki's body, via the gunshot holes. Even as I picture the scene now, it's really grossing me out. Surprisingly good special FX for a movie like this.

5) MICHAEL IRONSIDE. Scanners is the shizz-it. But he's awesome in this movie, too.

Question: How exactly was Vicki the front-runner for prom queen? She wore drabby clothes and no make-up. Where I come from, the rich and pretty are the prom queen contenders, not someone who would dare let her face be shiny. Horror movies are all about suspension of disbelief, though, so I'll let that one slide for now.

There are a lot of rip-offs of other films in here, but to be honest, I don't give a shit. You can tell me about all the references to Carrie (duh!), The Exorcist, and A Nightmare on Elm Street you want, and I'll say, hey! If you're gonna steal, steal from the best! Hello Mary Lou is actually a pretty good horror movie, that despite the plot and nudity and gore and whatnot, really takes itself seriously. Therefore, IT WORKS. At least for me.

Sleepaway Camp 2. Ahhhh, good times. It's so good, you don't even have to care about an original because you could watch this gem 400 times and still think it's the greatest thing since square watermelons. Kids at a camp get killed in a variety of ways by the smiling happy camper, Angela Baker! Angela is THE single greatest killer in the history of all movies. I'm not exaggerating. Just watch the scene in Unhappy Campers where she's walking around the cabin looking for the right murder weapon (Radio on the head? No... Wire hanger? Nah... Oooh! Guitar string!) while her intended victim jabbers on for 5 minutes in the bathroom. Sly, cunning and a comedic genius all at the same time.

All you need to know about the first Sleepaway Camp is that there was a crazy aunt who raised a boy, Peter, as a girl, Angela, which obviously screwed Peter/Angela up in the head so that when Peter/Angela went to camp with his/her cousin, he/she killed a bunch of people. Oh, and Sleepaway Camp has probably the most disturbing few seconds of any movie ever in the world when, in the finale, Angela is sitting naked on the beach with her boyfriend's head in her lap. She stands up, gives a really creepy facial expression and makes a weird sound, all the while showing us that she has a PENIS! I may have forgotten most of the rest of the movie, but anybody who sees that will, unfortunately, have the image burned into their brain forever. Maybe longer than forever.

So in this sequel, it's many years later and Angela's been in the nuthouse, had a sex change, and gotten out. But she's still crazy as a shithouse rat. She's a counselor at camp, and does her best to "weed out the bad kids." Smoking pot and drinking while having premarital sex? You get burned up on a bbq grill. Show your titties to the boys and then give Angela lip? It's a power drill death for you, girly! Slutty bitch who tries to fuck all the guys at camp and uses bad language? Oh, you're gonna pay for that one. You get drowned in an old outhouse filled with poop and leeches! Other highlights include a bit of throat slashing, battery acid to the face, the standard decapitation, and as mentioned earlier, strangling with a guitar string.

The other "characters" really don't even matter in this movie, or any of the other Sleepaway Camp sequels. You watch these movies to see Angela kill all the cliche characters and laugh your ass off while doing it. The humor is actually genuine, too. There's not any of that awkward, badly delivered comedy, at least not in Unhappy Campers. If you're looking for the King of Cheese and bad actors giving the worst line readings ever, go watch Return to Sleepaway Camp.

Pamela Springsteen is absolutely brilliant as Angela, the upbeat killer who gives you the sweetest smile while she's watching you BURN TO DEATH! Fantastic. Felissa Rose, who played Angela in the first Sleepaway Camp and then again in Return, is also pretty awesome. Perhaps that's because she can open her mouth really wide and look so g-darn freaky. Ooh! Idea! A movie with the two Angelas, Springsteen vs. Rose, who comes out on top?! Okay, I guess that wouldn't work in reality. But I'll bet the Sleepaway Camp fans would fucking love it.

A face to give you nightmares:


  1. Michael Ironside just rules in everything. So good in Starship Troopers.

  2. True that! He also got his ass kicked by Mr. Miyagi in The Next Karate Kid.

  3. It's good to see some love for 'Prom Night 2' on the internet. I love that movie for all the reasons that many don't. As far as 'Sleepaway Camp 2,' I'm not as big a fan of it, but I also have no early memories of it. I literally just watched it about a month or so ago and reviewed it. It has its strong points, but just doesn't work as much for me.

    And yes, Ironside does rule in everything. Who can forget him as the crazy stalker from 'Visiting Hours?' Nobody- that's who!

  4. Glad I'm not the only one! Hello Mary Lou will always be a favorite.

  5. I have to admit: I like Prom Night 2 way more than the overrated Part 1. Silly fun, best enjoyed with a bottle of beer and lots of popcorn :)

  6. I just found your blog. Hello! I thought Prom Night 2 was not originally filmed as a Prom night sequel, and was titled that later. I know Prom Night 3 & 4 were movies that had nothing to do with Prom Night, and were just retitled. In fact, when I saw Prom Night II on TV as a kid, I thought it was the sequel to Carrie, and remained confused until I finally rented Hello Mary Lou like 15 years later to watch it again. Boy this shit is confusing. Goodbye!