Synopsis: Three years after killing the vampire in the original, Charley Brewster has started to believe it was all his imagination and starts to forget that vampires truly exist – until four strangers arrive at Peter Vincent’s house and starts to have an unhealthy interest in Charley, Peter and Charley’s new girlfriend.
Stars: William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Traci Lind, Julie Carmen, Jon Gries, Brian Thompson, Russell Clark, Ernie Sabella
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Running Length: 103 minutes
TMMM Score: (6.5/10)
TMMM Score: (6.5/10)
Review: After 1985’s Fright Night became a schlocky fun hit, it’s not a shocker that a sequel was greenlit and found its way to theaters. What is surprising, however, is that it took nearly three years for it to arrive. Remember, this was a time when every year a new Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street came out because there was big money in quickly churning out a sequel, not to mention a whole host of like-minded horror films that wanted their own franchise to materialize. The extra years likely helped the overall satisfaction level of Fright Night Part 2, even though it didn’t make nearly as big of an impact on the box office as its predecessor.
Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) has spent the last three years putting the frightening events that took place in his otherwise quiet neighborhood out of his mind. With the help of his psychologist (Ernie Sabella) he’s even managed to convince himself that he dreamed his neighbor was a vampire preying on young women and eventually went after Charley once the high-school student started investigating the deaths. Aided by campy late night TV host and former C-Movie actor Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), the two vanquished the vamp and things went back to normal.
Now a college student with a new girlfriend (Traci Lind), Charley continues to make a new life for himself but while visiting Peter’s new apartment he catches a glimpse of a new tenant, Regine (Julie Carmen), and her entourage. Strangely drawn to the beauty, Charley soon falls under the spell of another vampire who’s out for more than just blood…she wants an eternity of revenge. It’s up to Peter and Charley’s gal-pal to fend off vampires, werewolves, and one bug-eating macho man and save him from falling victim to the vampy vixen.
While it is admittedly a carbon copy of the original operating on a slightly smaller budget, this is a fine looking film that manages to make sense from scene to scene. Directed by horror veteran Tommy Lee Wallace (Amityville II: The Possession, Halloween III: Season of the Witch and TV’s IT) who was also the production designer on the original Halloween, the movie has a real moody ambiance that blends nicely with its surprisingly wacky asides. McDowall hams it up again with panache while Ragsdale and Lind have more brother-sister chemistry than any true actual heat. Carmen dives head first into her killer seductress and sports some hysterically ‘80s hair and clothing in the process. Special mention to Russell Clark as an ahead of his time trans vampire who not only makes his roller-skating bloodsucker quite menacing but looks damn good in the process.
So many sequels can’t manage to get out from under the shadow of their previous installments and the same is true with Fright Night Part 2. While it’s a sequel that’s not quite an equal, it’s a noble effort with ideas that work far more often than they fail. A word of caution, it’s hard as heck to find this movie on DVD without paying a fortune, might I point you toward the YouTube link below instead?