We’re living in an age where the queer community and the horror community have met at an accessible crossroads, and it’s one of a heck of an awesome place to be at. Monthly, I will be meeting you at this crossroads, and sharing queer aspects of films past and present. Some of these aspects will be blatant, and some will be closeted, but in the end, the queer parts of the things that go bump in the night will be explored in Queer Frights.
Here at Nightmare on Film Street, it’s prom season. What better prom movie to focus on within Queer Frights than Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II? It has all of the components of a prom movie, a camp movie, and a queer movie combined. When thinking about the queer aspects of the film, there happens to be a few things.
Hello Mary Lou has a huge queer following. Upon first viewing, there may not be enough material within the film to induce a queer interpretation. Yet, if you search the film on Google, you will find that it is queerliversally (that’s queer + universally) adored, and that there is a lot more to the film than one may believe. Hello Mary Lou is definitely a queer horror movie, and these are some of the reasons why.
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Prom Theme: Camp
If there’s one thing that we queers adore, it is camp. Hell, the word was created to honor the kistchy humor and outlandish styles that were born within the queer community. Hello Mary Lou is dripping with camp. The titular character is the epitome of camp, but more on her later. Camp’s heartbeat is loudly heard in all other aspects of the film. I believe this is what has led to the film gaining the cult status that it has. It doesn’t play it straight (haha, pun) like the first entry of the franchise does. It escalates every aspect a horror film has and does it with such fun and grace.
From the overly religious zealot of a mother to the good girl gone bad by means of the use of dirty words and sexual advances, the outlandish themes abound. The nightmarish sequences that our lead gal endure are also elevated. Where else can you see a unicorn statue come to life, and act as a sort of devilish pet? The writer of Hello Mary Lou and director of the franchise’s next entry, Ron Oliver, is a gay man. No doubt he put that camp in the film as a means to bless queer culture.
Your Prom Queen, Mary Lou
A lot of the charm is thanks to Lisa Schrage who portrayed Mary Lou. She only appears in the cold opening and in the finale, but those small moments are enough to land Mary Lou in the realm of queer horror. Schrage gave such an incredible energy to her performance. She mirrors camp and queer culture to a tee. The phrasing of the words that escape her mouth to the nonstop killer looks she provided when she was on screen, she is almost a representation of a campy drag queen. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ron Oliver took a knowledge of drag, and put that into Mary Lou.
It’s a shame that Schrage didn’t get more screen time. I’m 100% pleased with the performance that we did receive from her, but more of her would have been fantastic. I will go as far as to say that I’m sad that the franchise didn’t stick with Schrage as Mary Lou for a number of sequels. The character did return in the third entry, but was portrayed by another actress. The energy that Schrage put into Mary Lou wasn’t present. Imagine if we received further entries with Schrage. Oh, imagine the antics that would have been brought to life.
A Prom on Elm Street?
In Hello Mary Lou, a teenage girl becomes possessed by the spirit of Mary Lou. Strange things begin to happen to Vicki (Wendy Lyon). She experiences horrible visions. And then, Mary Lou has taken over her body. Vicki Lou then proceeds to do naughty, naughty things to her friends and family. So is it safe to say that Hello Mary Lou is to queer women what Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is to queer males? Whilst the film stands proudly on its own, the answer would be “sure.” Whereas Freddy’s Revenge stayed mostly out of the outlandish and camp, Hello Mary Lou embraces it.
There’s even a shower scene that is the penultimate queer scene in both films. I believe Hello Mary Lou‘s shower scene to be a bit more cruel. Vicki Lou comes to a friend of Vicky‘s in the showers. Her friend, Monica (Beverley Hendry), thinks that Vicki is coming in to apologize for a fight they had just before, but nah. Vicki Lou playfully teases Monica before going in for a kiss. Monica reacts with horror, and Vicki Lou offs her in a brutal fashion.
In true 80s fashion, and in how Freddy’s Revenge’s ending played out, the strength of a heterosexual lover is what ends Mary Lou’s reign, and brings back Vicki. But the joke’s on the viewers as Mary Lou’s reign doesn’t end just like homosexuality isn’t easily erased.
See Ya Later, Alligator
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II’s queer appreciation has grown in the past few years. There have been many articles and podcasts dedicated to the film. I can only see this appreciation growing and growing, never allowing Mary Lou to be put to rest. That’s exactly what she wants because she’s the queen. So let’s always remember to vote Mary Lou for prom queen, and never ever mess with her crown and cape. She’ll have something to say or do about that.
What do you think about Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II? What other queer aspects can you bring to the prom’s royal court? Let us know over on our Twitter, reddit, Instagram, and The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!