Monday, April 18, 2011

Hidden Gem: Fright Night Part II

I've discussed Fright Night before. At least, I've discussed the character of Evil Ed before. But Fright Night is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It's smart, it's sleek, it brought the vampire genre back in a way that it really should get credit for. Every actor in it does a damn fine job and writer/director Tom Holland is at his best, even topping his work on Child's Play. Fright Night is my favorite vampire movie, and the ultimate self-referencial mix of humor and horror before Scream came along.

We're here to discuss its sequel. Thing is, a lot of horror fans know Fright Night is a gem, including the people just now meeting it for the first time, or who will rediscover it when the remake hits this August. It's got a crappy DVD out, but it's not very hidden. The sequel, however, has been out of print for years, but even when the DVD (even more crappy) was available, it wasn't the most well known or well respected of films. And I guess that's understandable. If Fright Night is Scream, this is surely not Scream 2.

Why, then, do I dare to call Fright Night II a hidden gem? Because I love the original so much, and once I got over Evil Ed not being in the movie, I really started to see what this sequel has going for it. We do have original characters returning. Both boy next door Charley Brewster and washed-up horror host Peter Vincent return from the original and their exchanges are priceless. There's more humor in this one, but for the most part (vampire bowling is the other part) it works. I dare even say Roddy McDowell's performance as Peter tops his great performance in the original. The effects are good too, though they certainly don't come close to topping the first.

There are references to the original film that are nice, and with the accompanying Brad Fiedel score, the sequel is simply a must for every fan of the first. The plot is an interesting twist too, in that while the first film was mostly circumstance, in Fright Night II the vampire (Regine Dandridge) is out to destroy our main characters, making her at least close to as scary as Jerry Dandridge was in the original. The back-and-forth between who believes and who doesn't is also hilarious. Yes, this was supposed to be Evil Ed's time to shine, but it does alright without him.

Now, this is not a review, I'll add. It's a hidden gem feature. That means this movie is out there, but you're not allowed to have it. Maybe it's on youtube. But maybe you're so intrigued now that we can wait together and hope that the new remake means a decent (or any) DVD release of this movie.

Because I, for one, can't wait to be sat down and welcomed to Fright Night again.