From the Archive – Fright Night II (1989)


Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring Roddy McDowall, William Ragsdale, Traci Lind and Julie Carmen

After the events of the original Fright Night, Charlie Brewster (Ragsdale) has been in intensive therapy, and no longer believes in vampires – in part because of his new relationship with ultra-rationalist psych major, Alex (Lind). Peter Vincent (McDowall) on the other hand, still believes, and lives in an apartment bedecked with crucifixes and other paraphernalia from his movie career.

When Charlie begins to have recurring dreams of slinky stalker vampiress Nadine (Carmen), he questions his newfound rationalism, but eventually is convinced that said vampiress is merely a performance artist. In fact, she turns out to be the sister of the vampire that Charlie and Peter killed in the original Fright Night, out for revenge and tacky erotica. She reveals her plan to Vincent, whom no-one believes of course, and he is hospitalised for trying to stake the vamp on live television after she takes over his show.

Finally convinced of the existence of vampires, Alex springs Vincent, and together they rescue Charlie. The three of them then kill the vamp and her brood in a variety of exciting ways, including a holy-water bug wand, wrapping in an altar cloth, and the old mirror and sunlight routine.

What’s wrong with it?

The whole ‘are they vampires or am I nuts’ routine is reprised – sans imagination – from the original, as are such plot elements as the initially sceptical girlfriend and the best friend being turned into a vampire; except that this time the best friend is barely introduced before he goes bye-bye.

The vast majority of the cast are only so-so at best, and Julie Carmen is pretty wooden and charmless as the supposedly stunning vampiress. Nadine and her coven are also so very, very eighties that it hurts; the hair alone is enough to turn the stomach.

What’s right with it?

Roddy McDowall excels as the quavering thespian forced to get his act together and become the fearless vampire killer he always portrayed, although one can not help feeling that they really should have got Peter Cushing for both movies, as that’s who the character plainly is. … is also quite good as the well-dressed, entomologically-inclined bug-eater.

William Ragsdale is given little to work with, and the skilled light-entertainment actor is pretty much at sea trying to do obsession, horror and blood-craving, but he does get a spirited defence of Dracula’s literary merits to his credit.

Brian Thompson also gives off his usual huge mother-fucker charisma as the hulking, entomologically-precise bug-eater.

How bad is it really?

It’s basically very dull, being little more than a retread of the original with a couple of extra goons, a chick in the lead role and some soft-core neck-licking. As with so many films, it fails to either provide quality entertainment, or to be bad enough to provide some good belly-laughs.

Best Bit

Undeniably, the tooling up scene, where Vincent passes Alex piece after piece of vampire-killing gear, reminiscing misty-eyed over the schlock movie he used each item in.

What’s up with…?

  • Charlie’s room-mate claiming that his bite wounds were hidden with make-up? We’re talking about seeping puncture wounds; not a hickey!
  • Vampires being allergic to roses? Was that in Dracula? I don’t recall it.


Production values – kind of minimalist for a vampire movie, and seriously dated, but not too bad for all that. 8

Dialogue and performances – adequate to good, but pretty lifeless all around. The problem – save in the case of Julie Carmen – seems to be lack of interest more than lack of talent. 14

Plot and execution – the plot is basically a rehash of the original, with a couple of not-terribly-twisty twists. It is laid out in a singularly dull and lifeless fashion, and the action sequences are so limply directed as to generate not the slightest shred of tension. 17

Randomness – aside from the ‘make-up’ excuse, and the usual pick’n’mix selection of vampire strengths and weaknesses, the film’s randomness rating is not unacceptably high. 7

Waste of potential – Fright Night was a perfectly good little vampire comedy. A little dated, sure, but not too bad for all that. Even given the law of diminishing returns, something with a little more vitality than this damp squib might reasonably be expected. 15

Overall 61%


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