Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases, premieres, current events, or occasionally just our own inscrutable whims. This week: Morbius has been pushed back to 2021, but you don’t have to wait that long to check out these other vampire chronicles and bloodsucker tales.
Tom Holland’s Fright Night (1985) has become a cult classic, in part because of the deftness with which it threads the needle between horror-comedy and genuine thrills. Its sequel, Fright Night Part 2, has… less of that. Even though the follow-up sees Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) going off to college and processing the events of the first film in therapy, there’s a charming sense of play to Fright Night Part 2 that makes it—ironically, given the character’s passage into adulthood—a more childlike film than its predecessor. But it’s also a ton of fun, in the way that only ’80s horror can be.
A rundown of the film’s highlights sounds like a Stefon sketch from Saturday Night Live: “1988’s hottest sequel from the director of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch has everything! Undead burnouts! Bug eating! Performance art! A genderqueer vampire on roller skates! Organic pizza made with all-natural ingredients! Death by roses! Impromptu staking with a railroad tie! An after-hours vampire bowling night! Fog! Fog! Fog!” It also has a stylish and memorable villain in Regine Dandrige (Julie Carmen), the vampiric sister of big bad Jerry Dandrige from the original film.
We first spot Regine and her entourage in the lobby of Peter Vincent’s apartment building, where Charley drops by for a drink with his old vampire-hunting buddy (played, again, by Roddy McDowall) at the beginning of the film. She’s accompanied by an eccentric crew of undead lackeys that includes werewolf party dude Louie (Jon Gries) and the gender-bending Belle (Russell Clark), but Charley’s attention is fixed solely on Regine. The vamp’s ensuing seduction of the square undergrad has shades of David Lynch’s infinitely more subversive Blue Velvet, setting up a love triangle between a clean-cut youth, his equally clean-cut girlfriend (Traci Lind), and a mysterious neighbor in heavy eye makeup. Regine, however, is both the Dorothy Vallens and the Frank Booth of the piece, setting up Charley as the film’s damsel in distress.
It’s clear that Fright Night Part 2 was made by people who truly love horror and B-movies, from the Teenage Caveman poster on Charley’s dorm room wall to McDowall’s outsized tribute to TV horror hosts past and present. The production also gets more than its money’s worth out of its fog machines and practical effects, including some impressive shots of monstrous creatures melting in the morning sun in a low-budget riff on Raiders Of The Lost Ark. So maybe it’s not all that scary. (It’s not scary at all, to be honest.) But next time you’re in the mood to pour yourself a bowl of cereal and take a trip back to the ’80s, Fright Night Part 2 has you covered.
Availability: A hi-def rip of Fright Night Part 2 is currently available on YouTube.