Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2

(Bruce Pittman, 1987)
Just as the first film was not your usual genre ripoff, this one is not your usual franchise ripoff. In fact, for a while I had hopes that this would not only top the original but also crown the previously unreliable Pittman as a director of substance. While the narrative bears no relation to the first episode, it not only features equally likable characters (although in this one a bitch is just a bitch), it also allows for more character development, particularly re Wendy Lyon, whose not-completely-innocent young thing generates a great deal of sympathy as her possession by evil prom dress progresses. There's even a couple Real Actors (Ironside, Monette) in support, and Pittman puts his usual striking visual sense to good use. And then, suddenly, the thing just dies. Lyon's good-versus-evil personality metamorphosis is stupidly foreshortened just as it's getting interesting; thereafter we're simply asked to accept this previously virtuous teen as a swaggering murderess with an amazing rack. I couldn't make the leap, although I bet another director could have made it work; always prone to dozing off in the third act, here Pittman beats an infuriating retreat into nasty camp self-referentiality, throwing all content to the winds in favour of serial fanboy in-jokes, signifying nothing. He even throws in visual nods to The Third Man and Vertigo, just to prove how smart he is. Whoop de doop.

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