Adamantium Bullet

Cult Blender #18: FRIGHT NIGHT PART II

CULT BLENDER spotlights the good, the bad, and the ugly of the cult film world. Direct-to-video, b-movies, drive-in classics, Hollywood flops, and misunderstood gems are all here, awaiting rediscovery or to be seen for the first time.

The following is a reprint of a review originally posted on 10/19/10:


PLOT (courtesy of IMDB): Three years after killing the vampire in the original, Charlie has started to believe it was all his imagination and starts to forget that vampires truly exist - until four strangers lead by Regina, a noted actress, arrives at Peter Vincent's house and starts to have an unhealthy interest in Charlie, Peter and Charlie's new girlfriend Alex. It becomes clear that Regina is Jerry's (the vampire in the original film) sister and she is determined to get revenge on the friends and plans to turn Charlie into a vampire - so that he can face his punishment for all eternity.

THE RUNDOWN: FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 is a hard movie to come by. I’m not totally sure why this one hasn’t been re-issued on DVD or Blu-Ray, but the original release goes for around a hundred bucks on Amazon. And just to give you a heads up, it’s a full-frame mono version of the movie. In other words, some bastard at Artisan simply transferred the VHS version to DVD with little to no effort. A VHS copy on Amazon will set you back around fifty bucks, for those interested.

What’s really strange here is that FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2, at some point, was remastered in hi-def. I recorded the copy I watched for this review on my DVR off of Max HD and the movie looked great. Better than great, it looked pristine. I’ve seen the DVD print of this and let me assure you, if you’re going to waste the time finding this movie, you need to see it proper. Avoid that original DVD and even the VHS version like the plague.

Of course, you probably just need to avoid this movie altogether because it sucks. HARD.

Last night was the first time I’ve ever sat down to watch this from beginning to end and I’ve got to tell you, it wasn’t worth it. My god, it wasn’t worth it. But let me spin this around a bit before getting to point where I tell you that FRIGHT NIGHT PART II is one of the worst horror sequels ever made.

I actually intended on watching RETURN TO HORROR HIGH last night. Having never seen it, all I knew about HIGH was that it was a mid-80s slasher spoof along the lines of SCREAM and that it had a very young George Clooney in it. This is one of those movies I’ve been meaning to watch for decades now and have just never quite had the time. That is, till last night when I had the time and I started watching it.

And about ten minutes later, I quit. Couldn’t go on anymore. Would’ve rather shot myself in the face than continued. Yes, Clooney is in this picture. But don’t get too excited because he’s killed off exactly ten minutes in, right around the point that I gave up. It’s rare when I actually give up on a movie and the last time I can recall it happening was when I saw A BEAUTIFUL MIND for the first time (pretentious crap that literally lulled me to sleep). And while I did give MIND another chance (Guess what? It still sucked), I won’t give RETURN TO HORROR HIGH another. It’s just that fucking bad.

Downtrodden and realizing I’m still two installments behind on this year’s 31 DAYS OF HORROR (sorry for the delay, folks!), I pulled up the DVR queue to see what I had. Amongst my choices were THINNER, HORROR HOUSE, SLAYGROUND, SHANKS, VICE SQUAD (not really horror, but Wings Hauser is scary-as-hell in it) and FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2. And since I’d just reviewed the original, I thought NIGHT 2 might be a good choice. Plus, I’d never really seen the film in it’s entirety, so now seemed as good a time as any.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

It’s almost like the filmmakers watched FRIGHT NIGHT and decided to take everything good about it and throw it out the window. Worse yet, the sequel doesn’t even really understand the characters, opting to instead make them into shells of their former themselves.

The guy who gets it the worst is William Ragsdale as Charley. In the original, he was a nice kid who turned hero to battle the forces of evil. Here, Charley is a sex-obsessed college douchebag who treats his girlfriend like shit, is constantly trying to hook up the lead vampress (Julie Carmen) and pretty much joins the dark side with little to no resistance. No to mention the fact that he spends most of the beginning of the movie trying to convince himself (and, in essence, the audience) that vampires do not exist.

Yeah, you read that right, Charley doesn’t believe in vampires in FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 despite having clearly fought and killed one in the original. The whole argument here is that Jerry Dandrige was a serial killer living next door to Charley and that he, along with Peter Vincent, killed him, Evil Ed and Billy Cole. And somehow they didn’t go to prison for doing this. Not to mention the fact that a serial killer exploded when he came into contact with sunlight. Do you see the problem here?

FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 starts off on the wrong foot and it never gains balance. The idea that Charley and Peter killed a trio of serial killers and got away with it is ridiculous. They’d be in prison, no question about it. But what gets me is that Charley doesn’t believe in vampires despite the fact that he clearly battled vampires. Not serial killers, but vampires. I have no idea what director Tommy Lee Wallace was going for with this plot point, but he never once gets it. The idea of Charley getting away with murder and not believing pretty much takes a giant piss on the original. Good job, fellas.

And it really only gets worse from that point on. Charley’s girlfriend, Amy, is missing from the sequel, not even mentioned in a line of dialogue. Instead, he’s got a new love interest, Alex (Traci Lind) , and the sequel pretty much repeats all the relationship stuff from the original. Virtually word for word in some cases. Thankfully, Lind is uber-cute and actually comes into her own by the end of the film, but it’s a case of “too little, too late”.

Roddy McDowall returns and, once again, his performance as Peter Vincent is the high point of the movie. He doesn’t get much to do in the opening acts (which is baffling considering McDowall is obviously the star of this picture), but once he kicks into “vampire killer” mode in the finale, I couldn’t help but smile. What’s really interesting that his partner in the finale isn’t Charlie, but Alex. Watching these two riff off each other and fight the forces of evil was the singular okay moment in FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2. If Wallace had just went with these two and ditched all the other crap this flick might have stood a chance.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t and it really does suck. Julie Carmen’s Regine is sexy, but incredibly bland. Not only is she not at all scary, the movie doesn’t even bother really explaining the connection between her and Jerry Dandrige. They simply say that the two were brother and sister and leave it at that. Couldn’t they have brought Chris Sarandon back for a cameo or something?

What’s worse is that they opted to give Carmen three flunkies rather than just one like Dandrige. She’s got a roller-skating vampire woman, a bug-eating human and a wolf man. Yes, the roller-skating thing is as dumb as it sounds and while the idea of a wolf man being on the team is interesting, the make-up they use for his transformation is garbage. It’s cheap, poorly done and looks like a damn Halloween costume. Actor Jon Gries does what he can with the part. Basically, if he’s in human form, it’s a decent performance. But, if he’s in wolf man mode, it’s a joke.

Only Brian Thompson as Carmen’s Renfeld manages to escape this mess unscathed, but he has very little to do other than eat bugs and go bowling at one point. Speaking of bowling, FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 features bowling vampires. If you thought that vampires playing baseball in TWILIGHT was dumb, wait till you see this. Or better yet, take my word for it and don’t see this.

I’m not kidding, I hate this movie. It completely takes everything from the original and cheapens it. There’s no heart here, just a soulless sequel made to cash in on a modern day horror classic. Everything here screams cheap and uninspired. What a waste. It’s no wonder the series died after this one and is being rebooted.

BODY COUNT: Does my soul count as a kill? I mean, I feel like I died a little after watching this unmitigated disaster. As far as the actual count goes, ten careers…er, I mean, character go down here. Dandrige appears in the opening shot for a re-cap flashback death explosion, a random Asian chick is eaten, a waitress is killed, an old man decapitated, a shrink is staked, a roommate is doused with holy water, Thompson has his stomach cut open (maggots spill out, ewww), roller derby vamp is melted with a holy blanket (!!!) and Carmen is, shock, killed by sunlight.

NAKEDNESS: A random blonde goes topless for about two seconds early on and the ladies get a shirtless Ragsdale. Other than that, Lind rocks a nightie at one point and Carmen wears dozens of different revealing outfits. Nothing terribly special here.

IDIOT MOMENT: The whole movie. Oh wait, I guess I can’t say that, so I’ll just go with the fact that the movie wants us to believe that Jerry Dandrige was a serial killer who exploded due to exposure to sunlight. Not a vampire, but a serial killer. Give me a break.

SIGNATURE MOMENT: Like I said earlier, the best movie in this flick is when Vincent and Alex gear up to battle some vamps. These brief moments show signs of a better, more interesting, movie that just never appeared. Had they went this route with the whole flick, FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 would’ve been a classic. Instead, they opted to go another route and this NIGHT 2 is a joke.

VERDICT: If you haven’t already caught on, I hated this movie. It’s not worth buying (seriously, don’t pay a hundred bucks for this crapfest), it’s barely worth putting on your DVR and it is really is one of the worst horror sequels of all-time. FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 makes BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR looks like THE EXORCIST. Take that as you will, but, for the love of the movie gods, don’t check this one out.

TRIVIA (courtesy of IMDB): In one scene, bite marks appear on Regine's neck, this clip was added in at the last second, as a reference to a deleted scene of a flashback in which the roller skating vampire drinks her blood and makes her a vampire.

Jon Gries, who played the werewolf character Louie, also played a werewolf in another cult favorite, The Monster Squad (1987).

Stephen Geoffreys was offered a role to reprise his 'Evil Ed' character from Fright Night (1985) but turned it down to appear in _9-7-6-EVIL (1988)_.

Opened in theaters the same week as ROAD HOUSE and one week before INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.

Posted by J. Bryant

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