Horror Movie Review: Fright Night Part 2 (1988)


“That was *not* group hypnosis!”

Fright Night Part 2 is a 1988 American horror comedy film directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Traci Lind, and Julie Carmen. It is the first and only sequel to Fright Night (1985), with Ragsdale and McDowall reprising their roles.

Three years after the first film, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), as a result of psychiatric therapy, now believes that Jerry Dandrige was nothing but a serial killer posing as a vampire. As a result, he comes to believe that vampires never existed. College student Charley, along with his new girlfriend, Alex Young (Traci Lind), go to visit Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who is again a burnt-out vampire killer on Fright Night.

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While visiting Peter’s apartment Charley looks out the window (bad move) and sees four coffins being carried outside. On the way out, Charley sees four strange people walk past him, into an elevator. Charley instantly becomes drawn to one of the four, the alluring Regine (Julie Carmen).

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Charley drives Alex back to her dorm and unbeknownst to them, Regine is laying on top of the car using her hypnotic powers. Charley then becomes uncharacteristically passionate with Alex and while making out heavily he sees Alex as Regine and pulls away suddenly. An upset Alex storms off, not realizing that something is following her. We’re then introduced to the rest of Regine’s group; Louie the werewolf (some vampire lore suggests that vampires can shapeshift into all manner of creatures), Belle the roller-skating vampire (yes, really) and Bozworth, a bug-eating servant of Regine.

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Later that night, Regine comes to visit Charley, only to turn into a vampire and bite him. He wakes up to find it was all a dream, or was it? The next day, Charley goes bowling under the advice of his psychiatrist and is invited to the theatre by Alex. On his way, he spots his friend Richie at Regine’s side, he opts to follow them and climbs a fire escape outside Regine’s apartment to observe. He’s horrified when he sees Regine and Belle attack and drain Richie’s blood. Charley runs off to find Peter, and the two of them arm themselves with crosses and crash Regine’s party.

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They arrive and discover it is in fact a vampire-themed party, and much to the amusement of Peter, there’s even a bowl of fake fangs. Charley finds Richie alive and well and strangely, with no bite marks on his neck. They’re interrupted by Regine’s grand entrance which leads her to hypnotize Charley with an erotic dance together. Regine then introduces herself to Peter and Charley and explains that she’s simply a performance artist, this satisfies the pair and Charley rushes to his forgotten meeting at the theatre. Meanwhile, Peter stays behind. When he checks the room with his pocket mirror, he discovers that all is not as it seems and they were in fact correct about Regine being one of the undead.

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Peter runs into Regine who reveals her true identity: Jerry Dandrige’s sister, here for revenge! Quickly Peter tries to tell Charley all that has transpired but he’s too in denial to accept the truth, Peter yells that he did warn him and runs off to flee the town. Meanwhile, Charley has started to show signs of being a vampire as he is becoming sensitive to garlic and sunlight. After a news report regarding Richie’s death, Charley finally believes in vampires again but after rushing to see Peter, he discovers he’s gone.

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Louie reveals his true nature to Alex and Charley and stalks them in the school library, only to flee after Alex injures him by cramming wild roses into his mouth (another vampire myth). Alex and Charley are then (strangely) arrested by campus police. After a bout with police and a mental hospital, they’re all back together and off to save Charley who’s been taken by Regine. Alex and Peter head to Regine’s lair in order to save Charley. They find a disoriented Charley, who is slowly turning into a vampire.

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Can they save Charley? Can they kill off the Dandrige family once and for all? You’ll have to search the internet for a rare copy or buy a VHS player to find out! (or illegally download it, which isn’t wrong here because it’s pretty impossible to watch otherwise…)

While watching Fright Night Part 2 you have to bear in mind that it’s a horror comedy and a sequel so it’s of course, not going to ever be as good as the original. But as sequels go, it’s pretty good. After reading the plot to the film I didn’t think there could be a rational explanation for why Charley disbelieves in vampires after all that has happened, but I was wrong. The psychiatrist angle is extremely believable, seeing as it was a traumatic event and raving about vampires would’ve simply sent him straight to a mental hospital. Additionally, it makes sense he would break it off with Amy after she literally was a vampire and perhaps she was like Peter Vincent, someone who just wouldn’t let it go. Both William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall reprise their roles as if they’d never left, and Traci Lind is a great addition as a more mature and intelligent girlfriend (sorry Amy). Julie Carmen is just as seductive as her brother and dare I say, pulls off the make up better than Sarandon – although that could be because special effects improved slightly in the 3 years between movies. My favourite part was definitely Charley’s slow transformation into a vampire, seeing his aversions to garlic and sunlight is amusing, and I believe Jerry would be very entertained to see him that way.

Fright Night Part 2 has a great score, atmosphere and casting, and it’s a damn shame it wasn’t distributed properly because of a tragic event involving the producer, Jose Menéndez and his wife, who were murdered by their own sons. The murder happened only a few hours after Roddy McDowall and the director, Tommy Lee Wallace, had lunch with Menendez to discuss the film’s distribution and marketing. Jose Menéndez was also supportive of making a third Fright Night film before his death. This tragic event no doubt caused Fright Night Part 2 to get mixed up in legal confusion of who had the rights to distribute the film on DVD and, thus making the limited few that were made briefly in 2003 extremely rare. So, if you’ve never heard of a sequel to Fright Night then you can blame Lyle and Erik Menéndez.  Another depressing addition to this story is that Roddy McDowall wanted to reprise his role in a third film, but because of this whole fiasco that is impossible as he died in 1998.

Fright Night Part 2
  • 7.5/10
    The Final Score - 7.5/10
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