Fright Night Part 2 (Arrow Recommends – Halloween Watch!)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: When Jerry Dandridge's revenge-bent sister Regine (Julie Carmen) rolls into town with her macabre crew for some payback, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) and Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) are forced to gear up once more and go vamp hunting!

“Let's talk about blood, Mr. Vincent, it's very precious to me." – Regine

LOWDOWN:  I had clocked Tommy Lee Wallace’s sequel to Tom Holland’s 1985 monster horror hit FRIGHT NIGHT a couple of times in the past and although I always esteemed some of it, it never truly stayed with me. That was then, and being that today is Halloween, I decided to give it another shot first thing in the AM with a cup of Irish Coffee (i.e. a cup of Whiskey with a pinch of coffee) to see how it held up as a grown up genre fan. I’m not sure if I was too hard on the movie back then or if a hefty case of nostalgia took over me like nobody's business, but yes I have somewhat changed my tune about this follow up. All good!

I feel bad for anybody that had to write or direct a sequel to FRIGHT NIGHT, as it was a very tough act to follow. Its perfect balanced blend of horror and comedy was sublime; its casting tops (Chris Sarandon’s vampire is in my Fangs Hall of Fame) and its nod to older school horror (like the Hammer films) was oh so on the money. How the bleep do you top that? Well the 1988 FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 did the best it could and I have to commend it on many echelons. Wallace’s sequel (Holland couldn’t come back – he was doing Child’s Play at the time) went balls out in terms of 80's aesthetics (more so than the OG). The wild camera moves, the MTV-ish vibe, the vibrant colors, the “smoke machine madness” ambiance, the big hair everywhere and the extravagant costumes all kicked in to make this one an unmistakable full-on 80's horror film. It was a product of its time and then some!  

Moreover, I have to applaud the screenplay (by Tommy Lee Wallace, Tim Metcalfe Miguel and Tejada-Flores), which sported enough nods to the first film to please but at the same time told its own story (basically a revenge plot as opposed to the Rear Window inspired tale of the first film) and tossed its lead characters into fresh territory. It could have been just more of the same, but it aimed to be more than that and achieved its goal. Respect!  Speaking of characters, it was a blast to see William Ragsdale and the LEGEND Roddy McDowall back in their famous roles of Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent once again. The chemistry was still on fire and they were both as affable as ever (Ragsdale did have a tendency to be a tad too whiny though, but that out of control haircut made me forgive him).

The baddies stood out too on their end! Jon Gries was lots of fun as the were-man Louis (the character was initially gonna be Evil Ed, but was changed when Stephen Geoffreys couldn’t return due to filming 976-EVIL), the androgynous Mega-Mullet-Pimping roller-skater Russell Clark made for a compelling presence (all about his slow-mo shite) whilst Brian Thompson was amusing as the bug-eating Ogre Bozworth (Modeled after Brian Bosworth… no shit!) But the Belle of the Ball was Julie Carmen as Jerry Dandridge’s retribution-lusting sister Regine. Carmen (who watched the first film mucho times to prep for the role) successfully managed to evoke some of Jerry Dandridge’s mannerisms while doing her own captivating thing. The end result was a sensual, dangerous, at times off-kilter and transfixing showcase (loved them performance dances…damn). I don’t think her work ever got the respect it deserves, hence let me do my part right f*cking here, right f*cking now: Kudos my lady for having the courage to take on the role, for going for the gold and for nailing it! It is now one of my favorite vampire performance

Add to all that goodness biting bleak humor, bopping Pop/Rock tunes (you bet Wilson Pickett's "The Midnight Hour" popped up), Brad Fiedel owning it once more with his distinctive Fright Night score (dug Deborah Holland’s "Come to Me" cover at the end), awesome gory moments and INSANE practical effects/prosthetic work (by Greg Cannom and Cannom Creations) that made me yearn for the good old CGI-less days and you get a sleek Halloween celluloid treat!

Any complaints? YESSUM! Traci Lind didn’t have much to work with as Alex. Her role was beyond paper thin and somewhat boring. Not her fault, it wasn’t on the page and she did what she could with the nothing she was given. It also made zero sense to me as to why she would date Brewster in the first place, yet alone after he kept standing her up. The man was no Tom Selleck circa Magnum P.I. yo! But that's the movies for ya. Finally the laughs/horror juggling act wasn't as efficient as the first film and there were also some pacing issues now and again, nothing critical, but I felt it. 

With that sunk into your neck and bled dry, FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 started my Halloween day right and I recommend you give it a shot or another shot if you got the time for it! Better than its rep. I’ll end off with a little bit of trivia for y'all! Roddy McDowall loved playing Peter Vincent so much that and he wanted to get Tom Holland back to the franchise. So he set up a meeting with Holland and Carolco top-dog Jose Menendez to set up Fright Night 3. But the meeting never went down. Menendez and his wife were murdered by their sons Lyle and Erik Menandez that day (aka the infamous Menendez Brothers murder). That nipped Fright Night 3 in the bud and resulted in half-ass distribution for Fright Night Part 2. It was not meant to be.On that chipper bit of horror history – HAPPY HALLOWEEN MOTHER TRUCKERS!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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