I personally hold the original Fright Night in high esteem. It is one of those films that really clicks with me and is one that I can watch numerous times without getting bored. It has everything that I could want in a film of this caliber by including sex, gore, comedy, vampires, and nudity. As trivial as that may sound, it’s the way they are presented that makes it work. Even though Fright Night is essentially a horror film, it never takes itself too seriously and never gets stuck in some pointless subplot. While I was living in Australia, my girlfriend and I were able to see it in a theater on a 35mm print. I can proudly admit that I turned her on to one of the greater films of the 80s. Fright Night represents that era perfectly with its aesthetics (the club scene) as well as the way that films were made back then. Dialogue heard in that film is not constructed that way anymore in scripts and though many of films of that era had the same template, there is something very authentic about how Fright Night goes about it.
So now what? Tom Holland is not interested in doing a sequel, or at least not interested in the job of directing (he would be more than happy to sell those characters) but there is still a market for a follow up film. Tommy Lee Wallace (It, H3: Season of the Witch), a friend of John Carpenter, is offered the role and so goes the wheel of movie making. Fright Night: Part 2 is contiguous with the story of the first film bringing back William Ragsdale as Charley Brewster (YOU’RE SO COOL) and Roddy McDowall as the vampire killer, Peter Vincent.
It has been 3 years since the horrible incident at Jerry Dandridge’s house and we find Charlie undergoing psychiatric treatment because everyone is convinced that he is insane (vampires don’t exist, guys). These are the college days now and Charlie is seeing a new girl by the name Alex (Traci Lind) who is aware of Charlie’s fear of vampires but being a psychology major, passes it off as some form of delusion.
There is a large amount of psychological elements within Fright Night: Part 2, which I think is something interesting to look at for a moment. Charlie is seen as a borderline lunatic by most everyone except Peter Vincent. Peter is back at his old job on T.V. but his co-workers think he has lost his mind because he constantly talks about that one violent night. The heroes of the last film have become vilified in the second installment as people who are running around with delusions about destroying evil and conquering vampires. Charlie is told that he killed his best friend because Evil Ed (the friend) was helping his serial killer neighbor who Charlie manifested into a vampire. His mind justified his murderous actions because they were vampires and not real people. This is not the case though, it’s just that the rest of the world does not believe in vampires and could not stomach the idea of people turning into wolves or bats. I just love the reasoning of the non-believers in the film, much like the first, Charlie’s new girlfriend tries to rationalize everything and it’s not till she is attacked that she believes.
Watch this clip for the attack and to see Peter Vincent get taken to the nut-house (it’s rather complicated why he does).
It should be noted that the effects are more over-the-top this time around.
Anyways, I just found the emphasis on vilifying the heroes as an interesting take the second time around. It reminded me a bit of the Ghostbusters sequel, where the heroes have zero notoriety or respect for past actions.
Back to the story. Upon visiting Peter Vincent one night, Charlie looks out the window to see a black limo pull up to the apartment complex and watches guys wheeling boxes into the building on hand-trucks. He immediately remembers Jerry’s house and how the same thing happened, but on a smaller scale. This is not a spoiler, but it turns out there are three vampires moving in with their human handler. The head vampire-mistress is named Regine and she is the sister of Jerry and is out for blood (har har). Her goal is to slowly turn Charlie into a vampire, but Charlie has so much to deal with already (girlfriend, best friend, school, killing his friend 3 years ago, OH MY!).
The story follows a similar path as the first but on a much grander scale. Sure, each character is trying to convince another of the presence of vampires and in doing so gets into some trouble with the authorities but in a true sequel fashion, the stakes (hahahaha) are higher. The level or gore is greater as well as the laughs. It seems that the humor along with the horror were doubled. I would easily compare the two films to the first two Evil Dead films, where the first laid down the framework and the second improved on that formula. I wouldn’t say the series are similar in themes or that one is better than the other, but they do follow the same formulas. There is one scene in particular that had me rolling and it involves a vampire on roller skates, yes, you heard right, roller skates. Watch below:
Aside from the gore and horror/comedy moments. There are some great scenes involving the vampires during their downtime. One scene has the group going to a bowling ally, killing the owners, and hanging out there for the night. It’s a goofy scene but is effective in portraying the vampires doing something else other than annoying Charlie. Watch below:
Fright Night: Part 2 represented the golden age of horror in the goofiest yet most authentic way possible. I may still love the first installment better because of the novelty, but there is something to be said about the sequel.
I don’t want to ruin any major plot points in this film because I know this is hard to get on DVD and many of you may not have had the chance to see this gem. I guess the point of my post is maybe a call to arms to get this film re-distributed and brought to Blu-Ray or something. I don’t consider this one of the ALL TIME GREATEST FILMS EVER MADE but I think it’s one of the better ones and deserves more attention. I know there are some critics who have come around on realizing how great Fright Night: Part 2 actually is and maybe we can join the fight. I hope all of you, at one point of another get a chance to see this. Till then, YOU’RE SO COOL!