THE SUCKERS ARE BACK!
The second film in our Bloodsuckers collection is the highly underrated sequel to Fright Night, Fright Night Part II. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace in 1988, who also directed one of our other favorites Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
For as much as we loved Fright Night it took us a while to watch its sequel. Living under the assumption that it could never be as good as the first so why get our hopes up. We could not have been more happy about being wrong. This movie has so much of its own magic and unique set of characters, it's hard to compete with the original Fright Night but Part II brings the 80's stylized glamour that we can't resist.
The story behind the production of Fright Night Part II is horror story in its own right. Through the 80's the production houses that held the rights for Fright Night changed and morphed from one to another with different executives to casts to budgets. So by the time the movie was made in the form we see now four years past and Fright Night Part II hit theaters May 19th, 1989 to only 148 screens nationwide. The company that held the rights to Fright Night was New Century Vista which was headed by Jose Menendez.
Jose Menendez was totally down to even do a third Fright Night until his sons Lyle and Eric plotted and murdered him and his wife. They are the infamous Menendez brothers. The trial brought up a bunch of allegations about Jose and New Century Vista went through a crisis to save its image and through all of that insanity Fright Night Part II has suffered from getting the release it and its fans truly deserve.
Now that you know the story of why it's so hard to get an affordable or non bootlegged copy of this gem, why do we love it so much!?
Part II catches up with Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) in college, battling his way back to "reality" with the help of a psychiatrist, to remember vampires aren't real! The events of the first movie were a psychotic break and Charley concocted this story of vampires to help him cope. He's almost back to normal with a new love interest Alex (Traci Lin) a psych major who is helping Charley get grounded again. Charley's old pal Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) is living in the glow of his redemption from battling real vampires and regains his swagger from the silver screen.
While Charley and Alex visit Peter Vincent for dinner, Charley again finds himself gazing out of the window to see a strange group of individuals moving into Peter's apartment building. All of his work to overcome the reality of vampires comes crashing back into Charley's life. He doesn't trust what he sees and denies the reality for the moment. Charley then finds himself in the lobby of the building and watches as four striking people come in together. One of them catches Charley's eye the beautiful Regine Dandridge (Julie Carmen) who seems to mesmerize him into a puddle of lust and infatuation.
Charley's defenses are down, he doesn't believe in vampires any more, and in the night Regine visits him seducing asking, "Do you know how to use your lips, Charley?" In their passion Regine bites Charley inducing the revenge she intends on taking after Charley killed her brother! The nightmarish struggle with the undead begins again for Charley and Peter Vincent.
There are many similarities between Part I and Part II: there is a Vampire out to destroy Charley, the dreamlike dance sequence between vampire and prey, and the final battle that is just as impressive as the first movie. Our favorite aspect of Part II elevates this movie to greatness, is the vampire gang or coven or family or band of misfits. We love everyone of these characters so much.
First there's the blocky bug-eating bodyguard Bozworth (Brian Thompson) with the biggest fattest tongue you've ever seen. Much like Billy from FN1 we are not entirely sure what Bozworth is but everytime he sees a bug he notes its scientific name and places it gently on his lilly pad sized tongue. Then there's Louie the scraggly haired vampire that chooses to take form as a werewolf. He's got the hots for Charley's girl Alex and scales the side of her dorm with his claws. He spends most of the movie trying to convince Alex that Charley's a bum and needs to go out with him.
The next two characters Regine and Belle are incredible wonders to behold on screen. Regine is a captivating presence anytime we see her, especially in her dance sequence as the new host of Fright Night, sorry Peter you just can't move like that. As striking as Regine is in this movie she's still overshadowed by a character that doesn't say a single word in the film, Belle.
Belle is a singular dream sequence throughout the film. Belle is glammed out the entire movie and travels exclusively on roller skates. Now this aesthetic, is Stephen and I. We even had an album called "Music to Roller Skate To" by our band in high school. When I (Lance) first saw the trailer for this movie and watched Belle glide toward the camera to go in for their kill I was 100% in! Belle's sexuality is ambiguous and provides a truly unique character for the time that resonates with so many people today.
Since revealing the design to everyone this week we have a new-found appreciation for Belle and this movie as a whole. The amount of love for Belle and what they represent to people is overwhelming. We were fortunate to meet though social media the writer and fellow horror nerd, Mark O. Estes, who runs a blog Midnight Social Distortion. Mark outlines an eloquent and insightful perspective that everyone should read about Belle in his article "Silent Belle – A Tribute to Fright Night Part 2’s Black Queer Icon". Mark gives such a compelling example of what representation in movies can mean for people and we think that makes Belle and this movie incredibly special. Seriously, go check it out!
From our limited perspective we were drawn to the imagery in this movie and we had no idea it would resonate with so many people. We are humbled and thankful that we could shine some light on a beloved and underrated movie. Hopefully we can get an affordable copy or a legit blu-ray release in the future, if it wasn't for those murdering Menendez brothers...