PLOT: Studying art history in Romania with the rest of his class, American student Charley Brewster learns his new professor, the sexy Gerri Dandridge, is actually a centuries-old vampire. Worse yet, Gerri plans to use Charley's ex-girlfriend Amy in a ritual sacrifice.
REVIEW: On the one hand, FRIGHT NIGHT 2 should be given some credit. For a direct-to-disc sequel, it's well made, with some engaging performances, copious amounts of blood and a refreshing lack of cheesy CGI. For a slow October night, you could do worse.
On the other hand, what the hell is this movie? It uses roughly the same story, structure and character names as Tom Holland's 1985 original and 2011's remake by Dreamworks, but it's not a sequel to either. Of course, Holland's FRIGHT NIGHT had a sequel of its own, but this isn't a remake of FRIGHT NIGHT PART II. I suppose the most accurate description would be to call it a re-imagining. You could also accuse it of being a tired retread; a movie that attempts to dust off familiar material with as little ingenuity as possible.
To etch out an personality of its own, FRIGHT NIGHT 2 is set in Romania and features a female bloodsucker - named Gerri Dandridge, naturally. Played by British beauty Jaime Murray, Dandridge is an art professor teaching a class of American students; she's also an ancient vampire and maybe even the current incarnation of infamous "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory. Dandridge's true identity is known only by Charley Brewster (Will Payne), who spies Professor Dandridge in a plethora of bloody, compromising positions but cannot convince anyone that the woman is a creature of the night.
Thankfully, Charley has his right-hand man Evil Ed (Chris Waller) to count on, as well as ex-girlfriend Amy (Sacha Parkinson), who is still the object of his affection. While Payne and Parkinson are acceptable, if not particularly memorable, stand-ins for the actors that we already associate with these characters, Waller's Evil Ed is a truly insufferable new iteration. Say what you want about Stephen Geoffrey's shrill-voiced performance as Ed in Holland's film, he's not as unspeakably annoying as this version. He strangles every sequence he's in with noise and bug-eyed overacting.
Oh yes, and then there's Peter Vincent; brilliantly embodied by Roddy McDowell in the 1985 film as a horror movie host, and then wickedly sent up by David Tennant as a drunken magician in the remake, Vincent here is a brash reality show monster hunter with a stripper addiction. As played by Irish actor Sean Power, there's nothing much fun about this Peter Vincent, unfortunately. It's indicative of the movie's relative lack of inspiration that FRIGHT NIGHT 2 doesn't bother to do anything with this character other than create a bland copy of what we've seen before. The film doesn't even use his profession in a inventive way; the fact that he's one of those "Ghost Hunter" frauds is quickly forgotten.
The Romanian setting adds some novelty; the country's natural atmosphere and history perfectly compliment the fangs of the story, and director Eduardo Rodriguez handles the action adequately. (Although his previous film, the action-comedy EL GRINGO, provided way more fun.) But there's nothing that makes FRIGHT NIGHT 2 stand out, and the fact that it's better than it should be doesn't give it a pass on not having a true identity of its own. Scares and suspense are nonexistent, so the "horror" aspect of the tale is dished out via blood and gore, which the movie does have in spades. Something to chew on, but not much.