Tuesday, October 22, 2013

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT (NIGHT II): Oh Brewster, You Used to Be SO COOL

The original FRIGHT NIGHT – 1985's charming horror comedy that lovingly and lightly spoofed the horror genre while also telling a crackling vampire tale – is one of my favorite flicks of its era. Oh sure, it gets lost in the shuffle amidst my love for the likes of RE-ANIMATOR, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, PHANTASM II, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, DAY OF THE DEAD, LIFEFORCE and JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (seriously... I totally dig that flick!) but who doesn't love watching Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) battle charming, but deadly, vampire-next-door Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon)?

So why did it take me 25 years to track down its sequel?

All the elements were there for me to jump on board: original stars McDowall and William Ragsdale (Charlie Brewster) were back; HALLOWEEN III helmer Tommy Lee Wallace was in the director's chair; and, though Sarandon was absent, the cast included faces like Jon Gries, Brian Thompson and Johnny Slash himself, Merritt Butrick, in one of his final roles.

Picking up three years after the original, Charlie and Peter have both moved on from FRIGHT NIGHT's horrific events, though not without consequences. Vincent is still hosting the weekly chiller show 'Fright Night' while Charlie is attending college and dating new gal pal Alex (Traci Lind). But while Vincent has adopted the role of believer, Charlie – thanks to extensive therapy – has accepted rational explanations for the events that led to the deaths of Dandridge and his victims.

But all it takes for Charlie to fall back into his paranoid "monsters among us" ways is for him to spy the arrival of vampiress Regine (Julie Carmen) and her entourage of fellow vampires (Russell Clark and Gries) and an insect-munching chaeuffer/familiar (Thompson). Faster than you can say "hey, um, haven't we seen this all before?" Charlie is being hunted by Regine, Vincent is arming himself to battle the undead, a good pal is being turned and... yawn.

Though I'm never against making the same movie over and over again (see 13TH, FRIDAY THE), the lack of wit and charm means FRIGHT NIGHT II has nothing to compensate for the overwhelming feeling of sameness. Oh sure, the flick's fans will point to things like the roller-skating vampire or the bowling alley scene, but every 80s horror flick worth a damn had some kind of loopy price-of-admission sequence. FRIGHT NIGHT II has a couple, but what surrounds them is pretty tedious.

This certainly feels like one of those instances where a film's inaccessibility – both the VHS and DVD are long out of print – has created a cult it scarcely deserves. – Dan Taylor

FRIGHT NIGHT II is available from Amazon.

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