Fright Night Part 2 (1988) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The new episode of the Black Sheep video series looks back at the 1988 sequel Fright Night Part 2, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace

This episode of The Black Sheep was Written and Narrated by Andrew Hatfield, Edited by Joseph Wilson, Produced by Lance Vlcek and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

With all due respect to the vampire western Near Dark and the coolness of The Lost Boys, my favorite ’80s vampire flick is pretty easily Fright Night (watch it HERE). It has a way about it that is just unmatched. It’s able to mix the ’80s setting, think Jerry in the club hypnotizing Amy, with both a modern and classic feel. Its almost the evolutionary step of what Hammer films would have turned into had they not folded. Its certainly beloved enough with it’s own documentary and a sequel, remake, and sequel to that remake. That’s what I wanted to talk about today. While Near Dark got no sequel, probably for the best, and The Lost Boys got multiple awful sequels, Fright Night got a hidden gem of a follow-up that I think is unfairly seen as not worthy when its biggest issue is simply that it had to follow Fright Night.

Fright Night Part 2 was released in late May of 1989 and while the first one was a success, making nearly triple its budget back, Part 2 was a bit of a flop. It had a higher budget than the first one, but brought in less than 3 million. Part of that, I’m sure, is that it was released sandwiched between Road House and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That’s a rough pair to try and juggle between. And who knows, maybe it was just a little too late or even too early to rejoin the adventures of Peter Vincent and Charlie Brewster. It has a good pedigree in the director’s chair. Yes, just like losing Chris Sarandon as the fantastic Jerry Dandridge is going to put you behind from the start, losing writer/director Tom Holland never helps either. Thankfully we got journeyman director and John Carpenter understudy Tommy Lee Wallace to both help write and direct. He is a legend for Halloween 3 and the IT miniseries alone, but this is the cherry on top.

To help him write the movie we get Miguel Tejada Flores and Tim Metcalf. Some of the movies we cover have writers or directors that really don’t have a ton else besides the Black Sheep or Best Horror You Never Saw that we are covering, but these guys have some pedigree. Flores helped write the story for Revenge of the Nerds, Screamers, Beyond Re-Animator, and Frankenstein’s Army. Metcalf also did story for Revenge of the Nerds, but also wrote the screenplay for Kalifornia and Bones. The original idea was to have Tom Holland return to direct as well as Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffreys come back as their characters, but either due to other projects like 976-Evil and Child’s Play for Geoffreys and Holland or a lack of liking the script for Bearse, the script was re-written to what we have now.

Fright Night Part 2 The Black Sheep

The movie opens with a great idea that 3 years later, Charlie has had intense therapy to convince himself that he and actor Peter Vincent were convinced they were fighting a vampire, when in reality it was just a serial killer. We later find out that this was a case of gaslighting to get revenge. He throws away all his vampire hunting tools and weapons and we learn that he has become estranged from Peter because in his mind, Peter killed his best friend. Charlie and his new girlfriend decide to go make amends and Peter is very happy to see them. Although he fully believes everything actually happened. He even speaks as though all of these creatures are real on his Fright Night TV show.

The new vampire moves into Peter Vincent’s building, but Charlie just shrugs it off to not fall in the trap again. The new vampire has not come alone. There is a werewolf played by Monster Squad‘s werewolf Jon Gries, a rollerblading mute vampire played by Russell Clark, and a bug-eating giant played by Brian Thompson, whose character was modeled after Brian Bosworth. Jerry Dandridge had one very memorable ally, but the sequel decides to up the ante. Which works, you need to do more than just retread. The lead vampire is Regine Dandridge, played by the gorgeous Julie Carmen, and her plan is to turn Charlie into a vampire and kill Peter Vincent. She works her way in quickly, and the process starts with the typical signs of Charlie being averse to sunlight, cranky, and getting sick when he eats garlic.

Charlie starts to question things and ends up at a party where people are dressing up and acting like vampires. Charlie and Peter leave, convinced it’s not, but then Peter uses the same mirror trick that he does in the first movie. He confronts Regine and that’s when we find out her relation to Jerry and her plans. She transforms into a bat and soars past Peter. The effects in the movie are ’80s-tastic in the best way. The bat looks like a Harryhausen creation and we get a constant stream of cool with a holy water melting, a stomach exploding bugs out, and a vampire being melted. Just great stuff throughout that still looks good today. Peter Vincent is fired for his reckless behavior and replaced by Regine on Fright Night. Charlie loses his girlfriend and almost kills her, but is able to stop, and our heroes seem down and out. We also get a fun scene of the sidekick vampires going bowling together with a little bit of murder thrown in.

The whole angle of Regine hosting a horror TV show and hiding in plain sight is a great hook. Peter decides he needs to end her reign and tries to kill her on live TV. I know we are missing Chris Sarandon and Tom Holland among others, but we still have Roddy McDowell. Peter Vincent, an obvious but great name that’s an amalgamation of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, is an amazing character. With respect to William Ragsdale and the other fun actors here, this is his movie and he steals even more scenes than he did in the first movie. McDowell was around forever and while he will probably be forever known as a stalwart in the original Planet of the Apes movies, playing multiple characters in the run, he had a great career outside that. He showed up in Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, The Legend of Hell House, and a personal favorite Class of 84, amongst a couple hundred others in genre and outside.

Fright Night Part 2 The Black Sheep

Because of the, ya know, attempted murder and believing in vampires, Peter is put in an asylum while Charlie is bailed out by his psychiatrist. This is where we find out that it has all been the long con and honestly one of the only scenes in the movie that doesn’t work for me. Charlie’s girlfriend kills the doctor, or at least tries to, before he ends his own life by falling on top of the stake she put in him. With this new knowledge in tow and knowing Charlie is in some serious trouble, they go to break out Peter Vincent and head off to rescue Charlie. Jon Gries and his werewolf character were actually part of the new script that replaced Evil Ed, who was going to be brought back, and he does a great job here. He flirts with Alex and plays inside his werewolf skin really well. While he is a comic relief, he has a menace to him, especially when he tries to fight the two leads in the library or when he places a severed head inside the ball return at the bowling alley.

Unfortunately he is also the first of the group of new baddies to die, but in a really nice touch, you can see him turning back into a human as he falls and lands in the fountain below. When Peter and Alex find Charlie he is almost completely turned and have to cover him to keep him from attacking them. They get caught in the hallway and seemingly are done for before Charlie uses his strength to pull the mute vampire’s claws into Brian Thompson and we get a great bug gut spilling practical effect. While Regine flees, they take out belle with the same blanket that they used to cover Charlie, but since she is a full vampire, she melts like she was left in the microwave too long.

The final showdown happens in the elevator shaft that the vampires were keeping their coffins in, which, if I’m being honest, doesn’t sound the like best idea they ever had. Regine turns into an awesome rat bat mixture that reminds me of something out of From Dusk Till Dawn mixed with Graveyard Shift and they are in a race against time before she gets to them. Peter looks like he is running away, but ends up getting a piece of glass to reflect sunlight and Jerry’s sister blows up in a similar way that he does, although she makes it back to her coffin before completely falling apart.

If the IMDB trivia is to be believed, fate just wasn’t smiling on this particular movie. After the film wrapped, McDowell and Tom Holland met with the distributor who happened to be Jose Menendez. Yes. THAT Jose Menendez. A third movie was discussed, but Menendez was tragically murdered by his sons and in addition to a third movie, it crippled the movie’s distribution efforts, which wasn’t helpful in it’s small box office. I really don’t think the Road House/Last Crusade sandwich helped, but this is what really torpedoed it. While we didn’t get a trilogy, the first movie was remade with Colin Farrell in 2011, which itself got a sequel. I don’t hate the remake, but it really doesn’t hold a candle to the original. This sequel is leagues better than the sequel to the remake and is honestly one of the more underrated vampire movies.

Its finally getting it’s due soon with a Blu-ray getting a US release for the first time. Its currently available to stream in a couple places, but physical media hounds have been left wanting for some time. Whether you knew there was a sequel to the original at all or you were worried it wouldn’t be worth your time, now is a great time to visit this. Its closest analog I can think of is Jaws 2. While it revisits some of the plot of the first go around and is missing some of the most important elements, it’s a hell of a good time and makes for a great double feature when you go back and watch the first one. Welcome to Fright Night, Part 2!

A couple of the previous episodes of The Black Sheep can be seen below. To see more, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.