Tommy Lee Wallace
William Ragsdale - Charley Brewster
Roddy McDowall - Peter Vincent
Traci Lind - Alex Young
Julie Carmen - Regine Dandrige
Jon Gries - Louie
Russell Clark - Belle
Brian Thompson - Bozworth
Ernie Sabella - Dr. Harrison
Genre - Horror/Comedy/Supernatural/Vampires
Running Time - 104 Minutes
Three years after the events of FRIGHT NIGHT, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is in therapy still dealing with the idea of vampires actually existing. His therapist, Dr. Harrison (Ernie Sabella), has pretty much brainwashed Charley into believing that the vampire issue is all in his head. Harrison just wants Charley to be a regular college student and enjoy life with his new hot girlfriend, Alex (Traci Lind).
As Charley and Alex enjoy spending time with each other, Charley catches the attention of a beautiful seductress named Regine (Julie Carmen). Enchanted by Regine, Charley watches her seduce a woman through a window. However, Regine bites her partner, making Charley believe in vampires again. But Regine's seduction is too strong for Charley, as he's bitten by Regine and starts feeling the effects of vampirism.
Realizing that strange things are happening to Charley, his friend and horror film host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) enlists the help of Alex to fend off Regine and her supernatural minions - including a werewolf (Jon Gries), a bug eating assistant (Brian Thompson), and a roller skating vampire (Russell Clark). It's soon revealed that Regine is turning Charley as revenge for him murdering her brother, Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon in the first film), feeling being immortal would be Charley's ultimate punishment.
I watched all the FRIGHT NIGHT films in October, finally sitting down to see the 2011 remake and its sequel/remake that was released a couple of months ago. But I had to revisit the original FRIGHT NIGHT sequel - 1988's FRIGHT NIGHT PART II. I hadn't seen it since 1990 probably and I honestly couldn't remember much about it. And after watching it again weeks ago, it's easy to see why - it's just an inferior rehash of the first film, but with several roles reversed. Still, it's not a terrible sequel and doesn't deserve a lot of the hate that it receives.
Like I mentioned, the screenplay just plays out what we watched in the original FRIGHT NIGHT. The only differences are that the villain is female, Charley is now the one being seduced by a vampire, and Charley's girlfriend is the hunter alongside Peter Vincent. I do think the changes freshen up the story a bit, as it manipulates the dynamic we're familiar with when it came to the first film. Charley is now the target of vampire lust, instead of his girlfriend. His girlfriend is now the one helping Peter Vincent save Charley, making our main character the real damsel-in-distress. The villain being a female gives the movie a different feel as well, which is also helped by her unique minions who seem to have their own personalities which makes them distinguishable. FRIGHT NIGHT PART II is the same story, but with the same stock characters doing different things within the story to change it somewhat. If a sequel to FRIGHT NIGHT had to be made, then I'm glad these changes were made to give it a supposed purpose.
Unfortunately, that's as much praise I can give the screenplay to FRIGHT NIGHT PART II. A lot of things annoy me about this sequel. One of my biggest pet peeves was what was done with Charley and Peter Vincent. I don't understand why both of these characters needed to be skeptics about their own experiences with vampires from the previous film, only to be reminded AGAIN [or in Charley's case, TWICE] that they do exist. How did Charley believe that Evil Ed died? Or his ex-girlfriend trying to bite his neck off? And Peter Vincent being a horror show host should have made him believe in the vampire situation more, not repress the issue. Speaking of Peter Vincent, did he have to lose his show AGAIN? And another pocket mirror, no reflection, bit? And more relationship issues with Charley and his new girlfriend, Alex, due to the vampires - which is what we watched in the first film. If these situations were written well, paced well, or even remotely charming, I'd be okay with this. But it just feels like generic padding, making us wish the sequel had gone in a different direction - or at least a direction that had a focus.
The villains of this film are no better. Regine is a hot vampire, and I can see why anyone would be seduced by her looks. But she has no personality to speak of, and just comes off as extremely bland. This hurts Regine more since she had to come after Jerry Dandridge - a subtle and evil vampire who had charisma oozing out of his pores. Regine doesn't have one-tenth of that charisma unfortunately. Evil Ed is sorely missed here, since he brought a lot of energy to FRIGHT NIGHT. There's a rumor that actor Stephen Geoffreys was asked to reprise the role, but not sure what came of it. But Jon Gries as the comic relief werewolf didn't compare, although he tried. And what was up with that Renfield dude eating bugs, and the rollerblading vampire who I wasn't sure was a man or a woman? Regine's crew could barely walk in Jerry's shoes in terms of interesting villains. I'm more threatened by a vampire who seduces chicks in a club, rather than monsters who terrorize a bowling alley in a silly '80s montage.
Tommy Lee Wallace directs the film decently, although the script did him no favors. I think the best thing Wallace handled visually were the special effects, which are pretty freakin' awesome here. We get maggots coming out after someone gets gutted. The melting effects are always fantastic to watch. There's just some cool stuff to visually stimulate you during the film's final act. I do feel the film is a bit too long, and it felt long much of the time for me. But the editing is good and some of the shots are inspired. FRIGHT NIGHT PART II is not Wallace's best film as a director, but at least he tried to make a bland script good.
The acting is a mixed bag as well. William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall are very good in their reprised roles as Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent - especially Ragsdale, who is much improved from the first film. Traci Lind is super hot and much more likeable than Amanda Bearse in the girlfriend role. Jon Gries tries to be funny, but it doesn't totally work. But he's not terrible. Brian Thompson is cool as Bozworth, not doing all that much but still managing to be memorable. Julie Carmen, however, did nothing for me as Regine. Yeah, she's hot and does a nice vampire dance. But her performance is sleepy and makes for a weak villain. It was as if she was coasting on her looks, rather than giving Regine any sort of personality.
THE FINAL HOWL
FRIGHT NIGHT PART II doesn't need to exist really, but it's not the worst sequel out there. Different dynamics within a similar premise are interesting, and most of the acting and the special effects are quite good. But with weak antagonists, annoying character decisions, and a dull performance by the film's lead villain, FRIGHT NIGHT PART II just makes you appreciate the first film more. This sequel is only meant for fans of FRIGHT NIGHT. Otherwise, don't be seduced to see it.
Anton Yelchin - Charley Brewster
Colin Farrell - Jerry Dandridge
David Tennant - Peter Vincent
Imogen Poots - Amy
Toni Collette - Jane Brewster
Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Edward "Evil Ed" Lee
Dave Franco - Mark
Genre - Horror/Comedy/Supernatural/Vampires
Running Time - 106 Minutes
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) lives in a small neighborhood just outside of Las Vegas. Recently, some people in the neighborhood have been disappearing ever since the new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Ferrell), moved in charming the suburb. But Charley is more concerned about hanging with the popular kids at his high school and dating the hot and intelligent Amy (Imogen Poots) than caring about these disappearances.
This changes when his former best friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), tells Charley that Jerry is a vampire and responsible for the missing persons. Charley, wanting to distance himself away from his "uncool horror fan" friend, dismisses the idea. However, Ed disappears himself, making Charley curious. When he finds evidence that convinces him that Ed was right about Jerry, Charley decides to enlist the help of vampire expert and magician, Peter Vincent (David Tennant), to help him stop Jerry from terrorizing the rest of his neighborhood.
FRIGHT NIGHT follows a similar narrative of the original, but with changes that hurts the film more than helps it. The biggest issue is how the Charley-Jerry dynamic is handled here. In the original film, these two characters were the driving force of the film. Charley sees Jerry bite a victim through his window, then suddenly sees a body carried out of Jerry's home. Charley tries to convince everyone around him that Jerry is a vampire, but Jerry is so suave and cool that he makes people believe that Charley has an overactive imagination, due to his massive obsession with horror movies. Jerry seduces his best friend, Ed, and his girlfriend, Amy, just to mess with him. FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) is based on a cat-and-mouse game between the two characters, which makes the film tense at times and fun to watch. Charley is us, the horror fans, who uses his knowledge of watching Fright Night to take down the monster. It's a simple story that works.
I don't know what former writer of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Marti Noxon, did here in the remake. Charley is no longer the horror nerd the target audience can embrace. Instead, he's kind of a jerk who just wants to be popular, not wanting to hang out with his best friend Ed because he's a "horror geek". Talk about alienating the audience! Not only that, but it's Ed that sees Jerry being a vampire first, which takes away the reason why the original worked so well. If Ed had a bigger role in this remake, I'd be fine with that. But the character is gone by the 20-minute mark, not seen again for about an hour. So why did he have to be the one to set things in motion? Maybe Charley will want to avenge the disappearance of his friend, right? Nope, Charley accidentally stumbles into information that convinces him that Jerry is a vampire. So instead of a film about two best friends reuniting over a common enemy, it's about a douchebag teen who accidentally figures out that his neighbor is a vampire - never once going after Jerry for killing Ed. What's the point of this film? There's no investment in this character because this thing against Jerry never seems personal until Jerry actually attacks him, his mom, and his girlfriend. No wonder Vampire Ed wanted Charley dead. You want to like the guy because he's Charley Brewster. But the way he's portrayed in this remake makes it kind of hard to do so.
Honestly, the only character I really liked in this remake was Jerry. Sure, Peter Vincent is kind of cool, although I'm not sure if I like the whole Russell Brand-Criss Angel magician portrayal here or not. Amy is hot and intelligent, not caring that Charley is kind of a geek regardless of her popular status. Even Charley's mom has a comical personality that makes her likeable. And don't get me started on Ed, who's more nerdy than "Evil". But Jerry is the only character who stays consistent from beginning to end. While I prefer the more subtle portrayal in the original, I'm actually glad this script makes Jerry more of a predator who enjoys preying on innocent people. The idea of evil is more in-your-face in modern times than it was in the 1980s, so having Jerry be a creeper right from the start gave the film a creepy and dark tone. His brash behavior and his affinity for tight shirts and tank tops make him an obvious bad boy that women [and some men] will be attracted to. He's feral, which makes him sort of attractive as a character. Sure, being more suave probably would have made his motivations make more sense and actually work better. But at least the character is written in a fun way that separates him from those stupid TWILIGHT vampires. Jerry is anything but.
I did feel the CGI effects were mixed bag. I mean, CGI blood? Really? And what was up with Jerry's vampire form? Yeesh. And of course, you get the black eyes that seem to be in these days. You'd think a film with a bigger budget over the original would have BETTER effects! At least the gas explosion scene is pretty cool. And I loved that motorcycle to the back of the car bit, that actually created a lot of tension. I don't think I ever seen a motorcycle used as a weapon quite like that. Supposedly, this film was going to use more practical effects, but it seems they were touched up by CGI during post-production. It's a shame because I would have loved to have seen what the effects originally looked liked because technology ruined them.
The direction by Craig Gillespie isn't all that bad. The action sequences are handled very well, and the film does create a bit of energy once things pick up by the middle of the film. The pacing is a little weird at times, but it's not the worst. The picture, which is pretty nice, has sort of a blue tint to it. Not sure what the purpose of that was, but at least the film had some sort of style. I wish Gillespie had directed a better screenplay than this, because I'm sure the visual style would have really knocked people's socks off if given the opportunity. It's a polished, modern horror film that visually does the job more or less, without being remotely memorable in any way.
The acting is also okay. Anton Yelchin is an inspired casting choice as Charley. The guy can act and plays likeable characters. But the way Charley is written in this film is pretty lousy, although Yelchin does his best to make it work. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, however, plays Evil Ed as Evil McLovin - his default acting technique. His performance did nothing for me and I wasn't at all disappointed to see him missing for majority of the film. Imogen Poots is pretty attractive and likeable as Amy. Toni Collette brings some funny as Charley's mom.
The best performances come from Colin Farrell and David Tennant. Farrell is just great in this role as Jerry Dandridge. He looks the part. He seems to be having a blast being this creepy, evil vampire who enjoys torturing his victims. There's something mischievous about the guy that makes the role work in the film's favor. Honestly, I wish he were in a better film that deserved this level of performance and commitment to the role. I really enjoyed watching him.
As for Tennant, Doctor Who fans know how talented this man is. And as a hybrid of Russell Brand and Criss Angel, Tennant creates a modern Peter Vincent that steals the show everytime he appears. It's not the Peter Vincent I remember or prefer, but Tennant's kookiness and cowardice when it comes to facing vampires is enjoyable. I wish he was given more to do. But he does a great job with what little he has to work with.
There's also a pretty cool cameo by Chris Sarandon, paying homage to the original film. I dug it.
THE FINAL HOWL
FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) is a pretty mediocre remake that will just make you like the original more than you already do. The narrative should have been a lot better than it was [Todd Farmer's and Patrick Lussier's take on the story would have been awesome if the studio had let them finish their script, instead of just rehashing what was already done before], the motivation of the characters don't seem to click, and the CGI element is pretty laughable. But the direction is decent, the acting is more good than bad, and some moments are actually pretty good. So all in all, an average remake that I probably won't watch again anytime soon. It could have been worse, honestly.
Will Payne - Charley Brewster
Jaime Murray - Gerri Dandridge
Sean Power - Peter Vincent
Sacha Parkinson - Amy Peterson
Chris Waller - 'Evil' Ed Bates
Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Vampires
Running Time - 99 Minutes
Charley Brewster (Will Payne), his best friend 'Evil' Ed Bates (Chris Waller), and ex-girlfriend Amy (Sacha Parkinson) are on a class trip to Romania due to some form of foreign exchange deal. Their professor is the beautiful and seductive Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray), who teaches art history and knows a ton about vampire lore - due to the fact that she's a centuries-old vampire. When Charlie feels drawn to her and peeks into her lair, Charlie sees that Gerri is a vampire - which Gerri wants Charley to know for some reason. Charlie tries to convince his friends about Gerri, but they don't believe her. But Gerri soon attacks the trio, wanting to make Amy her main target to get to Charley. Due to this threat, Charley and Ed try to enlist the help of celebrity ghost hunter, Peter Vincent (Sean Power), to help stop this vampire problem once and for all.
FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD is a sequel that left me scratching my head when it was announced. The remake wasn't enough of a success to warrant a direct-to-DVD sequel. Then as I researched it further, I realized that characters who shouldn't be in this film [because they died in the first film] were back, with the female villain having the same name as the male villain in the remake. So was this a sequel? No. Instead, FRIGHT NIGHT 2 is another reboot in this franchise, and not a remake of FRIGHT NIGHT PART II from 1988. Rolling my eyes, I dreaded the worst out of this movie. To my damn surprise, FRIGHT NIGHT 2 managed to be the best movie of the three I've reviewed here. In fact, it's the best FRIGHT NIGHT film since the 1985 film. Go figure!
FRIGHT NIGHT 2 follows a similar premise to all the other FRIGHT NIGHT films. This time however, things are a bit different. The main one is that this film actually takes place in Romania, which I actually loved to be honest. Not only does it freshen the stale narrative, but it brings the story closer to the origins of the vampire lore we know and love. All the major characters are here, but are presented a bit differently. Charley is still kind of dorky, but at least he enjoys horror films again. Also, his relationship with Amy is estranged due to supposedly cheating on her - something that's tossed aside unfortunately, but gives both Charley and Amy something different to do this time around. Ed is back to being the annoying best friend, so that works. Peter Vincent is now a playboy ghost hunter who's still a coward when it comes to vampires. And Gerri Dandridge is a mix of Chris Sarandon and Julie Carmen from the first two FRIGHT NIGHT films. She's a subtle villain whose beauty will seduce you into her bed. You know she's evil, but plays it cool. But when she's bad, she's REALLY bad. Honestly, the portrayals here were a welcome relief, as they felt truer to FRIGHT NIGHT than the remake.
Still, the film does have issues. Jerry going after Amy was meant to be sexual angst for Amy and Charley in the original narrative. Gerri goes after Amy again here, but there's really nothing sexual about the seductive. Amy is just a pawn in Gerri's game to lure Charley in. Nothing more, nothing less. It sort of takes away something from Charley's arc, as Gerri is not a threat to him in terms of a suitor for Amy. She's just a tool to bring Charley and Amy closer together and on the same page.
Peter Vincent is also given the shaft here, to be honest. For such an important side character in FRIGHT NIGHT, he doesn't make much of a presence in this installment. I do feel his new occupation as a celebrity ghost hunter was an upgrade over the magician deal in the actual remake. I also liked that he was a womanizer, yet scared of anything supernatural, pretty much being a hunter just for the fame, money, and women. But he doesn't really have a purpose in this film other than fan service. There's barely a relationship between him and the other characters, and only appears when it's convenient. You could have taken this character out, and not much would have changed. It's unfortunate because there was a lot of potential in this version of Peter Vincent.
Also, I had issues watching this movie just because I had already watched this film four times already, since each FRIGHT NIGHT is the same story with adjusted changes. It's just too much FRIGHT NIGHT for me, to the point where I probably won't watch any of these films for a long while. At least this narrative had changes that made the film feel a bit new, although it's still very predictable due to the fact it has to follow a certain pattern.
The special effects here are cheaper, due to the film's lower budget. But at least we see more practical effects that don't look too bad, mixed with some obvious CGI. The best part about all this is that this FRIGHT NIGHT 2 film actually feels like a rated R film, with boobs, blood, boobs, nasty violent acts, boobs, CGI goo, and did I mention boobs? The SFX are nothing anyone will remember a day or two after they've watched this movie. But at least they were somewhat handled well.
The direction by Eduardo Rodriguez has style. There are some strobe light effects, aerial angles, 360 shots, slow motion, and different color hues depending on the scene. There's also a cool animation, motion comic styled sequence that explores Gerri's backstory [probably the visual highlight of the film]. The editing is decent and the pacing is a bit better than the 2011 film. It's a nice looking D2DVD film.
The acting is alright. Will Payne has the Charley Brewster deal down, playing a decent hero. Chris Waller is annoying as Evil Ed, but the character is supposed to be that way anyway. He does try to inject the film with energy, although it may have been too much. Sacha Parkinson is cute and sweet as Amy, although she doesn't really get much to do until the end. Sean Power is just okay as Peter Vincent. His part wasn't much, but I actually prefer Roddy McDowall and David Tennant in the role. The best actor was the beautiful and sexy Jaime Murray as Gerri Dandridge. She's memorable as a charismatic villain with a lovely accent, who just happens to be a vampire. I totally believed Murray as the villain and thought she really came across as a subtle predator that would prove to be a threat to anyone in contact with her. More of her, please!
THE FINAL HOWL
FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD is the fourth FRIGHT NIGHT that does the same exact thing as the three films before it. But with a new location, inspired changes in the narrative, some cool visual style, and a great performance by Jaime Murray, FRIGHT NIGHT 2 is the best film since the original. Yes, it has major flaws and certain characters should have been given more of a spotlight. But I would have preferred this to be the remake than the one we got in 2011. At least this felt like a FRIGHT NIGHT movie. Definitely worth a rental. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Go figure.