We learned in the first movie that Charley Brewster is just so cool. He’s already slain his vampire neighbor. What is next for him? Obviously, he grew his hair out and went to college. Additionally, his therapist has convinced him that there are no vampires. Oh, Fright Night Part II, what do you have in store for poor, brainwashed Charley Brewster?
Now, I loved Fright Night. But when I saw there was a sequel, I had no idea where they would go. I thought perhaps the same story with a new kid and Peter Vincent takes him under his wing to fight a vampire? No, Charley is back. So, Charley has gone on to a career in slaying vampires? No, Charley has moved on to go to college and somehow it is all happening again? How do you recapture all that magic of Charley discovering vampires are real and his neighbor is one? Well, you make Charley doubt himself of course.
Once again, just with longer hair and in college, Charley doesn’t believe vampires are real in Fright Night Part II. His therapist has helped him come to the understanding that Jerry was not a vampire. At this point, he believes Jerry was simply a serial killer and Charley merely created the construct of a vampire to rationalize the murders. Yeah, okay, suuuuuure. But anyway, he still likes his horror books and movies. However, he has distanced himself from Peter Vincent as he thinks he is holding his progress back. Since Charley believes that Peter is victim to some group hypnosis, he doesn’t want Peter’s belief in vampires to negatively influence his growth.
Because of all this when Regine moves into town, he doesn’t believe she is a vampire. Regine is a performance artist who has come to town on business. However, in reality, Regine is Jerry’s sister who has come to get revenge on Charley and Peter. She and her entourage (a pretty awesome collection of lackeys by the way) begin to play mind games with Charley. Regine visits Charley in what he believes is a dream and bites him. Also, they turn one of his friends as he watches, but cover it up to make him doubt his own perception.
As a result of all this, Charley begins to flake out on his girlfriend, Alex. He has been too consumed with the strange happenings around him to make their dates. With this opening, one of Regine’s group begins to get close to his girlfriend to steal her away. As the mystery begins to unravel, Charley has also begun to turn into a vampire himself. This time, it will be up to Peter and Alex to save Charley and stop the vampires.
It is hard to follow up a movie like Fright Night. The original hinged so much on the slow reveal of the mystery and suspicion of what seems impossible. They tried to recreate this by making Charley have a reason to not believe in vampires again. I’ve never really loved the therapist angle, but it is what it is. It is a small blemish on what is a decent sequel.
Some people do claim that this is the rare case of the sequel being better than the first. However, I would disagree with them. The fact that so much of it is a retread is a little disappointing. The therapist angle hurts it a little, but that is a minor knock on it. Also, not having Evil, Charley’s high school best friend, is a real downside to the sequel. Thankfully, Roddy McDowall returns as Peter Vincent, and elevates the fun of the movie.
The real reason I think the original is better is Chris Sarandon. Fright Night Part II does sorely miss Jerry Dandridge. Jerry was such a strong and subtle antagonist throughout the first film. It is hard to imagine Regine succeeding in replicating him. Fortunately, she didn’t just replicate his behavior, they decided to make her a bit of a different predator. I think making her a sister instead of a brother was good. Doing so allowed her to immediately be different and avoid falling into being too similar. I liked that she had different traits, but I think her manner of stalking prey was less effective than Sarandon’s.
On the other hand, the supporting villain crew is much better in my eyes. In the original, you had one antagonist who was a bit of a creepy lurker who was a good compliment to Jerry. In this one, they went with more henchmen and upped the depth of their personalities. The three of them get more screen time and more depth in this one so we could get to know their oddities. You have the shapeshifter, who is pursuing Alex throughout the movie. Then you have the vampire on skates. Last of all, you have the ghoul who eats bugs.
I loved what these characters brought to the movie. They all had distinct off the wall personality and behavior. I loved seeing them get their own scenes and the way they interacted with each other. They all seemed to have so much fun. To this end, I think Brian Thompson was having the most fun of them all in his role as a Renfield. He just constantly seemed to winking at the camera. The scene of these three at the bowling alley alone is worth the watch. I highly recommend checking Fright Night Part II one out if you liked the original.
Picture Quality: 3.5/5
This is surely the best Fright Night Part II has ever looked. The story here, is the transfer that is used was originally for HDTV broadcasts on cable. Paramount supplied it to ’84 Entertainment and they cleaned it up a little for this release. The quality is good for its age and preservation. The image has quite a bit of film grain, but overall a rather sharp transfer. The blacks are occasionally murky, but mostly pretty clear. This is probably the best it could be without a brand new transfer.
Audio Quality: 4/5
’84 Entertainment supplies Fright Night Part II release with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track in both English and German. The track isn’t super full, nor should it be expected given that it is only a 2.0 track. As such, it also doesn’t give surround a great workout. On the other hand, it is clear. All the dialog is clear and discernible and the score is clean.
A word of warning: Make sure your disc has the corrected audio track. Unfortunately, the original release of this disc had the English track in mono instead of stereo. ’84 Entertainment sent out replacement discs to customers for a short period of time as well as to the retailers carrying it. Anything new from DiabolikDVD or other reputable retailers should be corrected. If it isn’t correct, you should be entitled to a replacement.
Packaging and Supplements: 4/5
This release doesn’t have a lot in the way of extras especially for the price. The special feature includes a few trailers and TV spots as well as press release packages. Music accompanies these press release packages. The DVD also has a few deleted and extended scenes. Oddly enough, ’84 didn’t carry these over to the Blu-ray disc.
One note about the special features: These will probably not play on a standard US player. While my PS3 played the movie just fine, it didn’t play any of these. I had to use a player that I have set to region B to play it. I suspect this is a result of these features being in SD/50i.
’84 Entertainment put Fright Night Part II out in style with a mediabook. This is very similar to the concept of a digibook. The main differences between this and the digibooks we have stateside, would be that the book is a stapled booklet in-between discs instead of in the front or back of the disc. The book consists of a number of stills from the movie. A nice touch, but personally I don’t care too much as the original movie is just in a normal Amaray.
Additionally, I have to drop this down a notch as it has no subtitles. Come on guys, supply subtitle tracks. The DVD had subtitles, so no excuses for that not making it onto the Blu-ray.
For a movie that has had such a cursed history, this is the best we’ve ever gotten by far. I won’t go into details in what is a truly sad story that led to its premature demise. On the business side of things, it received a very limited release and was out of theaters quickly. While IVE gave it a pretty cool coffin shaped VHS release, the DVD was of suspect quality and quickly went out of print.
This is by far the best release Fright Night Part II has ever had. With a cleaned up version of the transfer used for the HDTV broadcasts, it looks pretty good. The Audio track is solid and the packaging is nice. The extras are limited, but at least they are there. All in all, I highly recommend it to fans either as an import or from DiabolikDVD. I recommend finding it on TV for those who need to check it out due to the expense of it. Overall, I think it is a really solid film worth checking out.