Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fright Night II

 Fright Night II

"Such a thing could simply not happen twice." - Peter Vincent 

PLOT - Three years after the original film Charlie is attending college and has convinced himself that everything that has happened was an illusion. That Jerry Dandrige was a serial killer, and that Peter Vincent and himself shared a group hypnosis. Now dating a new girl, and showing signs of finally moving on Charlie one night meets a mysterious actress named Regine, who's just moved into the same apartment building with her strange group of friends that Peter Vincent lives in. It isn't long before Charlie is plagued by vivid nightmares of Regine visiting his dorm room and sucking his blood. Is this all a dream? Or is it someone coming back or revenge? 

LOWDOWN - There are certain movies that I vividly remember constantly watching as a child and the awesome artwork on the front of the tapes. There was The Goonies, The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, Fright Night, and of course the absolutely stunning white VHS artwork of the female vampire for the sequel Fright Night. My late mother loved the Fright Night movies and these were two classics my sister and I re-watched over and over again growing up. I was raised in a household where vampires weren't these sparking moody little teenagers. I grew up seeing vampires as these sexy mysterious terrifying creatures of the night. Between The Lost Boys and these two Fright Night movies I saw vampires as monsters who not only were misunderstood but blood thirsty and very very scary. I feel the original Fright Night is one of the best horror movies to come out of the 1980's. It has an Alfred Hitchcock like plot, pays tribute to Hammer horror and the old school 1950's creature features and horror hosts, as well as having mind blowing practical effects (thanks to the amazing Steve Johnson), a wonderful cast (one of the first films where an actual horror movie fan was the lead character in a horror movie.), and one of the best on screen movie monsters of all time.

Jerry Dandrige played wonderfully by the ever so handsome Chris Sarandon. 

This movie is a huge staple I feel for horror fans, and thanks to the wonderful director of Tom Holland we have a cult classic that is still finding fans of today. Of course due to the success of the first film in typical 80's fashion there just HAD to be a sequel. With Charlie and Peter returning, the perfect plot of Charlie in college trying to move on with new monsters returning seemed rock solid. One of my favorite plot devices is Jerry's sister Regine (played by the perfect and very beauitfuil  Julie Carmen) coming back for revenge, but wanting to turn Charlie into what he hates the worst...a vampire. Sadly as much as I love Tommy Lee Wallace (director of such underrated classics like Halloween III, and the terrifying Stephen King mini series IT) he didn't capture the magic and solid film we got in the first with Mr. Holland. (Chris and him were bust making Child's Play when this movie was being filmed so not a total loss.) Still, he did what he could and I still absolutely love this movie, not only because it's near and dear to my heart due to the fact I was always watching this growing up, but the fact that they really did put forth a solid effort. It's rare for a sequel to be as good as the original but I really loved how it showed how much work was put forth in this film. Between the amazing effects (some of the best Fangoria issues are showing on set coverage of the makeups done on this movie. Regine's final full body suit makeup is absolutely terrifying.) The overall well written story, and our two leads returning to do battle again. Still, I did bum out that Amy and Evil Ed didn't come back for this entry. Years ago in 2008 I attended a show at Monster Mania and heard that very early on when this sequel was in development they originally wanted actress Amanda Bearse to be involved. She said she went to only one meeting back when the script was still being written then never heard from them again. Bummer. Still as much as I like the actress who played the new girlfriend Alex, she didn't hold the same chemistry Amanda shared with William. As for Evil Ed (remember kids, at the end of the first movie it was teased he survived) he was originally set to be the main villain but was currently busy filming 976 Evil (a cult classic within itself) At first during the many script changes they were going to have him be a minor role, which later got changed into the Louie role. I always missed this character, but come on when Mr. Kruger himself is directing his first movie and wants you to be in it, you take THAT role. Still massive Fright Night fans can be happy with the comic book versions of the movie where the character of Evil Ed is in it. I myself only own a few but highly enjoy them. 

With these losses the film is still strong but truly never felt the same. Still, if you can believe that Charlie has convinced himself that the events of the first film were all in his head you can simply sit back and enjoy the show. 

This movie like I've said before is a film I've watched countless times on VHS. In fact when I met Mr. Ragsdale I had him sign my part II copy simply because it meant so much to me. I still remember the trailers before the film started like LockUp or Eddie And The Cruisers II Eddie Lives or how can we not forget the nose commercial sucking up boomboxes or flights to Paris for doing too much coke? This film is out of print and VERY pricy online to get on DVD. I'm still awaiting for one of the several popular blu-ray companies to announce that this title will be next. Twilight Time has all ready released two editions for the original, I guess it's only a matter of time before they get the rights and we have part II. Until then I have my old VHS copy as well as a bootleg I snagged at a convention. What I really like about this movie is how Regine steals the show as the female vampire. Up until then, horror really didn't have many horror female icons. I mean sure we had Elvira, but really no female horror villains for little girls to look up to. I remember being completely fascinated by Regine. Between how beautiful she was, those killer yellow wide contacts they gave her, her sense of style, and of course those hair-dos! One of my favorite shots is when Charlie and Alex are making out in his car and it pans slowly up to Regine laying on the roof serving complete horror fantasy. Her chemistry with Charlie was completely to die for. Is it bad I was sorta rooting for her? Also let's talk about Ragsdale? I've always found him completely adorable in everything he does. Ask my friend Jeanette, we acted like complete idiots meeting him talking about Mannequin II and how the girl eats the paper around the subs (...) also Herman's Head. Come on people. Come thruuuuu! I loved him in this and really found him sexy when he started to turn. One of my favorite moments is when he's bowling alone with his leather loves and sunglasses on. How can you not love him? 

A huge highlight is Brad Fiedel returning for the score. In fact this entire soundtrack much like the original is spot on. One of the best scenes in the entire movie is Peter and Charlie going to Regine's party as she does her "performance" and dances with him. It's cheesy but sexy as well. I love her speech to Peter Vincent later on about being Jerry's brother and seeking revenge. I feel this could have been a plot point that could have been somewhat expanded on more. I always LOVED the scene in the original when Jerry tells Charlie he's going to give him something he never had.


In fact Jerry's whole backstory is so rich and mysterious you are often wondering how he came to be? He was 100 years old when he died, and his sister was a vampire? Would have loved to see more of this storyline/background fleshed out.

As for the group of vampires I loved this idea. I loved in the original how much they transformed the characters of Jerry, Evil Ed, and Amy. In this we have a whole oddball crew of monsters. You have Regine, then the he/she vampire on rollershakes, Louie aka Uncle Rico who also played a werewolf in The Monster Squad, and the driver who eats bugs. Loved all of their deaths and the playful scene of The Midnight Hour playing and them bowling with heads. Goes to show this film did not take itself seriously. I mean come on, this was a sequel about vampires released at the end of the 1980's. why not go nuts. Still, I always enjoyed the effects, and Peter and Alex teaming up to save Charlie. A movie that takes it's time and has a great showdown at the end. My only downside is the final scene of Charlie and Alex. Is the final line of this movie really making babies? Ugh... Would have loved to see a third film made in the early 90's instead of that dreadful remade as well as it's remade sequel that I've still yet to see. Also can we talk about Josh Richman as the guy at the nuthouse. Classic. With laughs like this as well as the shrink on the railroad tracks you can tell this film knew very well it wouldn't be an Oscar winner. Still it has chilling moments and plays up the sexual tension between victim and monster. Remember that super weird performance scene of Regine on TV with the blood. So strange...

So this is a fun sequel that is a must to watch around this time of year. We can only pray as fans we finally set a blu-ray release that it deserves!
4 1/2 stars!

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