Ah high school such a stressful time for anyone especially Senior Year, you’ve got finals and the pressure of deciding which college you want to go to. And of course let’s not forget Prom as there are so many things to worry about such as what to wear, who are you going to ask out and are you going to die? Wait, that last one doesn’t seem right. Though Prom and Horror do go together more often than you might think. After all, there is a horror movie called Prom Night.
This year for Monstrous Musicals, I’ve decided to look at two pieces of musical media that take place at a Prom. Our first entry isn’t a full musical but rather a horror song from a revue show called 35MM where the idea was Ryan Scott Oliver would write music and lyrics based on photographs taken by Matthew Murphy. The photo that inspired this song can be seen here.
It seems to me that Oliver looked at this photo and decided to write a slasher story. And I find that extremely clever, I’ll link you to my favorite version by YouTube musician Annapantsu.
This is how I first heard this song and it tells you everything you need to know, Sara Berry is a described a popular bitch aka the queen bee of her high school and she’ll do anything to keep the status quo in check. Imagine Sharpay Evans if she snapped. She can’t stand to let anyone else have attention as we see with how slighted she feels when Julie Jenkins is getting attention and support from fellow classmates because being involved in a crash. The pressure to be Prom Queen drives her insane but there is also familial pressure placed upon on the Senior as we see with the interaction Sara has with her father.
“Sara, ” her father said, “Life is a prom”“I know you won’t disappoint me and mom”
“Sara, ” her father said, “Why be so calm?”“There’s just no future for a princess at prom”
The fact that Sara’s father speaks to her this way shows that he does not love his daughter for who she is and hold expectations for the young girl to be the best and nothing but the best. This is a big part of what drives Sara insane and what leads to breaking down as seen in the video when at the mirror and leads to her thinking the only way for Sara to get what she wants is to kill every other girl competing for the crown.
Something else that contributes to the pressure from her father is heard in the opening of the song.
Well, Sara Berry was a popular bitch (mm-hm)Hot bod’, hot boy, cheer captain, plus she was rich (oh, yeah) That girl had everything ’til hiccup and hitch Julie Jenkins lost a leg in a wreck (amputated)
The biggest line to to focus on is “she’s rich”, this ties back into how her parents had large expectations for her that she could never live up to. It reminds me of both Paficia’s parents treating her so cruelly and baby Amity being told she needed to find new more suitable parents.
Using these examples shows us how far Sara has fallen due to the pressure from her father and presumably her mother who is an absentee character in the song as we never hear what Sara’s mother has to say. That in many regards is just as bad as her mother is letting her husband dictate and control what they expect of Sara and these expectations may be impossible to achieve such as we know Sara wasn’t going to be crowned Prom Queen because her classmates intended on crowing Julie.
Til gossip stirred the student body would nameJulie Jenkins, queen of the prom (pity vote)
Sara can’t find it in herself to be the bigger person and let Julie have this moment after the wreck she was in as that is not what she was taught. She was taught if you want something you get it and you don’t let anyone stop you and second place isn’t good enough as in her family that is just first-place loser. Another aspect to hone in on is how her obsession with the crown causes her friend group to cut her off as they see she is going off the deep end.
Soon Sara’s sanity was hung by a thread (check Sara, choose Sara, vote for Sara Berry)Her B.F.F.’s proclaimed her socially dead (check Sara, choose Sara, vote for Sara Berry) ‘Til then, at last, her boyfriend texted and said (check Sara, choose Sara, vote for Sara Berry) “I’m taking Julie to the senior prom” (love, love, Julie)
This is here another breaking point for Sara as she now has no one as her actions have caused to alienate her friend group as they can see she is letting this ordeal drive her mad. As the song points out, Sara is not rational and losing everyone and everything is what leads to her thinking the only way to get the crown is to kill the competition. This is where the song kicks into high gear and it’s kind of fun that the names of her victims line up with the words, Prom Queen.
“P” is for Patricia drinking poisoned punch“R” is for Raquel dashed on a rock, crunch! “O” is what Anne said when Sara bludgeoned her brains And “M” is Marianna’s marinated remains But, but!“Q” is for Quiara, quiet, drowned in the poolAnd “U” is for Eunice’s pieces spread round the school But “E’s” are for the easy way in five minutes tops A one-leg’d girl can bring an “N” for End by calling the cops (what a bitch)
You got your silver Sara, you got your crownYou got their blood on the roses in hand Whoa, you donned the sash and scepter, doing a dance As you crowned you queen of high school land
There are so many animatics with different takes on Sara Berry and her heinous deeds. They are all so much fun and I consumed so many of them after I heard this song. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my look one of my favorite songs for this time of year. Join me on Halloween as we head to another darker Prom as we look at a revival of one of the most infamous musicals….