|VHS cover scan courtesy of VHSwasteland.com
Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace
Category: Horror/Cult Classics
A special thanks to my buddy Ingo over at Hellford 667 Movie Reviews for giving me the opportunity to check this fantastic film out recently. This is one of those oddly out of print films that for some reason go for astronomical figures on the internet for a bare bones full frame DVD. Even on VHS you'll never pay less than 10 bucks for this sucker, which is still a little steep for a VHS for my tastes. But since it's been out of print for many years now people feel strangely justified in charging over $100 for a DVD that doesn't offer anything you couldn't get out of the VHS, but whatever.
Fright Night Part 2, like Hellraiser 2 and Evil Dead 2 is another prime example of a horror sequel that actually works. It's not always easy though and it "doesn't" always work, just look at The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Friday the 13th Part 2, The Lost Boys 2 and Creepshow 2 for an example. And the vampire genre is even tougher. Look how long they took to even touch The Lost Boys, one of the coolest vampire movies ever made. Yea it's severely dated, but that only adds to it's charm. Even though it's got 80's written all over it, Joel Schumacher and friends knocked it out of the park with hip music, cool visuals and one of the most badass ensemble casts ever assembled and making mega stars out of everyone, mainly the two Corey's more than anybody else.
Like The Lost Boys, Fright Night is undoubtedly one of the best vampire movies to come out of the 80's. Writer/Director Tom Holland fashioned a great horror/comedy hybrid with brilliant casting and inventive ideas and execution that to this day easily ranks it as one of the best in the genre. What made it work was that it wasn't in your face comedy or slapstick, but rather more tongue in cheek. Fright Night Part 2, surprisingly, easily ranks as one of the better horror sequels out there. Director Tommy Lee Wallace, who know's a thing or two about the genre having worked along side master John Carpenter in the beginning of his career, makes a really solid effort and gives the film a professional visual flare that would most likely have been missing had anybody else stepped into the directors chair. I gotta give the guy credit, while I wasn't a fan of Halloween III (his previous big screen effort), here he's crafted a completely self contained horror film that while playing homage to it's predecessor, more importantly becomes it's own unique standout film.
I loved this film and it works great on many levels. It's a great sequel, it's a great horror film and it's a great vampire film. I'm still shocked that this isn't as readily available as it should be. This is a great film yet, because of it's unavailability so many people are missing out. Also, I'm not even sure if this ever even got a theatrical release. I remember when it hit home video because I was all over it waiting in anticipation, but don't ever remember it hitting my local theater which is a shame because this is so much better than a lot of the crap that was coming out around that time.
Charlie Brewster has spent 3 years in therapy trying to get over the events of the first film. He's convinced himself that what he remembered didn't actually happen, but was instead the result of his neighbor being a serial killer and not a vampire. He's going to college now and even has a way too hot and better than he deserves girlfriend named Alex. Meanwhile, Peter Vincent is still running his local cable show Fright Night and after not having seen each other for a few years, Charlie decides to pay Peter a visit for old times sake.
Unexpectedly a beautiful and mysterious woman named Regine appears in town with an entourage of unique friends who takes an interest and liking to Charlie Brewster. After the woman appears Charlie starts having nightmares again and also starts to distinguish unique behavior like sensitivity to sunlight, sleepy all day and also a strange attraction to this mysterious woman. Soon Charlie finds out that the woman is a vampire and her friends creatures of the night and the woman has come looking for Charlie Brewster specifically with her own a sinister agenda.
One of the best things Fright Night 2 has going for it is it's outstanding ensemble cast. Roddy McDowell is always great and surprisingly here has a much bigger role and more to do. But Julie Carmen as the mysterious woman Regine is interesting casting. She is pretty in an exotic kinda way, but I don't think I would have chosen her for the role of the seductress. Her entourage on the other hand is an awesome bunch. As the lone wolf man in the group you have the great character actor John Gries (who interestingly also played a werewolf in the excellent The Monster Squad the year before), regular bad guy Brian Thompson (better known as The Night Slasher from Cobra) who's only real thing besides being Regine's driver is that he eats bugs regularly, and the super hot Traci Lind as Charlie's better than he deserves girlfriend. On a side note, I remember from the very first time I ever saw this all the way up until recently not ever knowing if the black dude with the weirdest haircut I've ever seen who spends most of the time on film in roller-skates from Regine's group was a guy or a woman. I honestly couldn't tell because it kinda looks like a dude, but he wears makeup, looks and acts very feminine and wears womens clothing. It also didn't help that he/she doesn't utter a single word in the entire film. Reading up on it I know now it was a guy named Russell Clark playing the part, but it doesn't explain whether the character was supposed to be male or female. One of those mysteries I guess. Another aspect of the film that fascinates me is how in the end, it ultimately becomes a movie about revenge, and I always enjoy a good revenge story.
I enjoyed every single second of this film and that's a testament to the all the talent involved in bringing this awesome film to life. As I was while recently watching John Carpenter's excellent The Ward, I felt like a teenager again watching a great horror film for the first time for several reasons. One, it being almost completely unavailable to the general public, which means I haven't been able to get my hands on it for a very long time. Two, because it was made at the right time by the right people with the right cast. Seriously, if they had made this today you know the cast they would put together would be unnaturally attractive people from semi reality shows on MTV like The Hills or something like that. That's how they always do it these days. They always go for the biggest television star instead of the biggest talent. They never hire any "real" looking people. But that's how they did it back then and that's why we always remember them, because these people looked like normal real people.
Director Tommy Lee Wallace (Stephen King's It) keeps the momentum building to an outstanding finale and gives the film such an unexpected visual panache. His use of practical and optical effects are also to be commended. They look pretty damn impressive and when the gore comes into play, it's done really well. I also liked how they pretty much kept the same exact score from the first film throughout. It really lends great atmosphere and an aura of authenticity to the film. Like, just as it's it's own film in it's own right, you need that constant subtle reminder that this great film is part of something bigger and the music does that sincerely.
I really hope this becomes readily available to "everybody" someday. I don't know if it as anything to do with the rights or whatever, but this film begs to be released in Widescreen on Blu-ray with some special features. Hell, I'd even settle for a decent newer DVD release.