Lets. Talk. About. High. School. To me, there really is no other genre in the world quite like high school horror. Nothing bites as hard or feels as good. High school is the perfect atmosphere. The tragic and beautiful fusion of every teenage emotion. Rage, insecurity, love, obnoxious outfits, and the pinnacle of drama. It’s everything. There is an immediate unavoidable air looming in the background of every high school horror film that recognizes the power of being young and untouchable. Even if you’re Mary Lou Maloney and you have to come back 30 years later to prove it.
We are all haunted by our past selves in one way or another. Our adolescent forms, speaking to us from unreachable dimensions. Confronting us with the fossilized dreams of our younger, unmovable, tiny brains. We are reminded of who we were, the paradigms of who we thought we would become, the ideas of our youth and the passions that fueled them. I’ll never forget what it was like to be 15, or 16, or any of those beginning years because there was something magical and messy and terrifying about it all.
She still visits me in moments least expected, though. Bad hair, too many cigarettes on her breath, small, strong, scared. Shaking with a fear that she won’t be able to do everything she wants before the clock is out, while fighting the urge to run away from it all. Sometimes I wonder how much of her is still me.
She is the forgotten belongings of the dead prom queen inside the old trunk at Hamilton High. She is the satin sheets holding us down saying, “Remember me?”
Babes, you’ll never be as young as you are right now, so raise a glass to your high school self, wherever she or he is hiding, and descend with me into the horrors of prom.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II was released in 1987 and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The outfits in this movie are so late 80s it hurts. And you know by now that I love the hurt.
I’m going to focus on my lucky number ‘three’ for this one. We have main babe Vicki Carpenter played by the lovely Wendy Lyon. Then there’s Vicki’s nemesis and fellow prom queen nominee Kelly Hennenlotter played by the incredible Terri Hawkes, think Killer Party, think THE VOICE of Sailor Moon / Serena in the original American release of the show in the 90s. And lastly, we have Mary Lou Maloney played by the stunning Lisa Schrage.
Before we dive in, let me give an honorable mention to Vicki’s bestie, Jess Browning played by Beth Gondek. She is the alt-girl of our dreams. She completely dresses the part before her demise.
Jess is the epitome of “fuck you I’ll wear what I want but I will end up looking like everyone else that says fuck you I’ll wear what I want.” We appreciate the ruthless task she bestowed upon herself of being unique in high school.
Jess’s final outfit is even more over-the-top than the first one. It’s piles of textures and patterns that we can’t look away from. This ensemble makes it a bit tough to root for her as she’s being choked by the ghost wind of Mary Lou.
All in all, she doesn’t stray from her gut instinct to pair crayon-box-green colored shoes with pink, purple, and grey. An unwanted pregnancy can make you do crazy things, we see you Jess.
Also, the final switch from death by paper cutter to instead death by hanging was a real treat and amped up the tension. We salute you Jess, my only wish is that I had gotten to see more terrible outfit choices from you. ❤
Next up, Kelly Henenlotter, the belle of her own ball. We all know those people that cause drama for no reason. They make every situation about them. They try, mostly in self-destructive and embarrassing ways, to make themselves feel good enough or worthy enough in a tiring pursuit that will rarely end in the ways they want it to. We get it babes, some insecurities will never die, but someone needs to tell Kelly to cool it.
Kelly is the lesson, the character to us as the audience that we have known before and desperately do not want to become. She is Vicki’s high school nemesis, in a way, but she is more so ours. She is the cautionary tale within the cautionary tale.
We get a lot of color and spice from Kelly right from the very beginning. This makes complete sense. Her outfits are extra, very attention grabbing and extremely loud; all the things that she is. The layering necklaces and jewelry, the hair accessories paired with even bigger earrings tell the story of her more than she could ever say herself.
The layering never stops with Kelly until the very end. She puts floral jacket over pink button up with pink bows in her hair and crystal and beaded gaudy necklaces and obnoxious pearl earrings. This is only the second time we see her and she’s all over the place.
With the shock of bright colors that there was no shortage of back then, every choice looks like it was hand picked especially for Kelly. She’s all about her, and the outfits she dances around the halls in elevate her character. The ‘fits become just as annoying as she is. You eventually hate the clothes she wears because you have begun to hate her. It’s a prime example of a character that is dressed so accurately to their arc that there is nothing you would change.
It’s unclear in the film why Kelly and Vicki are prom queen nominees to begin with. When she visits the computer wiz Josh to fudge the votes in her favor, Kelly transitions to red. She puts the pastels and vibrant colors away for the last few scenes we get of her. Red is a warning, red means danger, but as we all know, Kelly is no match for the real evil happening at Hamilton High. Really the red is her own deterrent, only she’s not paying attention. The red sweater dress is a giant stop sign that reads, “Girl, no. Take the wins and take the loses and don’t make yourself look any worse.” Alas, she doesn’t heed her own caution and in the end is humiliated.
Despite her epic death by neon sign jab to the stomach, we know that Kelly already lost the battle before this when she gave Josh head in order to be announced as prom queen. I feel for Kelly in this final scene when she realizes that the name wasn’t changed and her reaction to what she did comes at her like a wave.
RIP Kelly, thankfully you were able to die in that prom dress you kept bragging about, the one that Liz Taylor wore to the oscars. Maybe when you come back someday and haunt the halls, you’ll be more at peace with who you are. ❤
Vicki Carpenter, prom queen nominee and host for Mary Lou’s ghost. She’s beauty and she’s grace. Vicki is the girl next door. The good girl with the long blonde hair and overbearing religious mother and passive father. She is the opposite of Mary Lou.
We meet Vicki in the mirror. Which is such a perfect place to find her. The double, the ghost that will eventually be a part of her, the foreshadowing. The subdued powder periwinkle blue undergarments are playing up her good girl character, making it clear that she’s not over the top and she’s a modest babe.
Beginning moments with Vicki are prim and proper and very obedient of her parents. She’s in softer pinks and florals in these opening shots.
She has high waisted light yellow jeans with a tucked in floral brown and pink button up top. We aren’t surprised by the color combo or by the fact that the shirt is tucked.
The oversized, boyfriend, letterman’s football jacket is such a complete high school statement. It is a right of passage. It’s an oath, its a promise. Vicki wears this jacket time and again throughout the film, and there is like zero photo evidence of this online which is a bummer because Vicki’s almost wearing this jacket in the film as if it were armor, using it as a reminder of her beloved boyfriend and helping to get her through some tough shit. So, the jacket needs to be highlighted. It’s important.
Once Vicki starts getting haunted, the sexuality of Mary Lou starts blending into her own. Lip stick is more terrifying now than it was before, and so is Vicki’s lovely face.
The last night we have with Vicki before she’s taken over, we get a wonderful oversized Hamilton High long sleeve that she uses as a nighty. Its giving us odes to poltergeist and we are 1000% into it. Where did the times go that we wore mega oversized shirts as night gowns?
We NEED to bring this back. I’ll use this moment as another opportunity to say death to all leggings forever – let’s bring back the hot nighty. I love that the choice for this night gown is a honey bee yellow. It matches her character wonderfully. No complaints.
The satin sheets, babes, the satin sheets. She is most definitely felt-up in this sheet scene. It’s terrifying and hot all at the same time. It’s an incredible moment because we know that Mary Lou Maloney is checking Vicki out and making sure that her body will be hot enough to possess. What spirit would want to come back and possess a body that ISNT hot? Exactly.
Obviously Vicki passed the checkup because by the next time we see her, she’s moments away from being taken over. The outfit for Vicki here is a simple salmon colored pair of pants that look to be corduroy with a synched black canvas belt at the waist and another tucked in flower shirt. This time the shirt is a long sleeve button up that screams Little House on the Prairie.
Proper till death, Vicki is in for a treat when her possession is also a way to express her own sexual repression. Once Mary Lou Maloney is in Vicki, we can tell. The movement and body language inside Vicki is coming out in a whole new way. She touches herself differently, with appreciation and knowing what she has to offer. We know that we are watching Mary Lou now, but something tells me Vicki is still around in there somewhere.
When Mary Lou first confronts Bill, who set her on fire 30 years before, we are taking notice of the clothes that belong to Vicki and how Mary Lou is using them in a totally different way. She even keeps the cross pendant on her neck and doesn’t shy away from what Vicki has in her closet.
After Maloney gains access to Vicki’s body she wants to feel less like Vicki and more like herself. She finds a 50s get-up with a long skirt and ill fitting sweater from her own time. An era of clothing that Mary would feel more comfortable in. It’s a great use of fashion as expression to a character, knowing that Mary is out of her element in this high school 30 years in the future. She eventually ditches this style, however, maybe finding more freedom in the clothes of the modern girls that she’s out to haunt. Either way it’s a good transition and I’m glad they included this for her overall arch because it makes sense. It’s what we need for Mary Lou’s character to seem more human.
The choice for Mary Lou to use Vicki’s body in any way she wants is paramount to a story of a sexually free teen who was killed way too young just for being completely herself. So, the moment in the locker rooms when Vicki is bare ass naked is INCREDIBLE. There is truly no outfit in the world that would have given us more of a supercharged response. It makes her stronger, scarier, completely content in her new body and a thousand times more terrifying. She is the opposite of insecurity and doubt.
It’s finally clear in this locker room scene that Mary Lou will not be stopped. She uses her mind to pressure crush one of Vicki’s friends hiding in the girls locker and she does it while being completely naked and still a little bit wet from the showers. This is one of my absolute top horror kills of all time and it would not have been the same if she was clothed.
The spiral goes further when she visits Father Cooper, the guy she was making out with at her prom who also didn’t do shit to save her life. He had what was coming for him. I am loving the dark navy cloak that she wears into the confessional. Personally, I was hoping for something all black and lacy because I feel like that would have been such a departure from Vicki. But we accept it. Blue seems to be Mary’s revenge color.
Again in blue shortly after, she’s dressed for senior prom 1987. The sequins and body wrap style of this prom dress is not what I was expecting. The form and shape of it makes Vicki’s body look way more curvy than it actually is. I was wanting Mary Lou to find a 50s get-up for Vicki in this moment. This would have been a cool mirror to the first time she possesses V and starts wearing the iconic 50s sweater with the poodle skirt. This would have been an ode to her past, to the moments that she didn’t get to revel in as prom queen, and to a time that she desperately misses.
Once we get to prom with her we are counting down the seconds until she gets out of this dress. All we know about this prom dress is that it’s not the green one that Vicki’s piece of garbage mom was going to force her to wear, so overall it’s a win. This dress is proving once again that Mary Lou knows how to make a definitive choice about what she wants, something we know Vicki couldn’t do. And let’s peep the necklaces real quick, she put on three of them. This is her signature. We will come back to this.
In Vicki’s death, on the same stage that Maloney died years before, Mary Lou Maloney emerges.
Mary Lou Maloney, living for the experience in the moment and not for anyone else. She chose a blush pink tea length dress in 1957 with white gloves and rings on the fingers. The triple layered / three different colored pearl necklaces is completing the look. One necklace is what most girls would have worn, but instead of going completely over the top, Mary just adds two more. It makes a world of difference.
It’s no wonder her soul isn’t at rest when she was only able to be prom queen for mere seconds before the jealous Bill set her on fire. I would also haunt every boy for the rest of eternity if that had happened to me.
Mary Lou doesn’t need much to be terrifying and sexually powerful. Even when she comes out of Vicki’s body with burns and scaring on her face, she’s still beautiful and you are reminded, with her rosy lipstick, that she is the victim after all.
Even after our younger selves are long gone, we still keep pieces of them that we can’t let go of. Mary Lou lives eternal in the hearts of every teenage girl and boy who deserves their moment in the light for just a little bit longer.
As always, I’m thankful to the wardrobe coordinator Nancy Duggan and the incredible costume team for this film; Yveline Bonjean, Jill Concannon, John Gole, Jill Lakeman, Joanne Massingham, and Lorraine Price – without them, I would have nothing to do.
Until next time,