SALEM HORROR FEST: Fright Night 2 (1988)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie was watched as part of Salem Horror Fest. You can still get a weekend pass for weekend two. Single tickets are also available. Here’s the program of what’s playing.

Three years and plenty of therapy later, Charley Brewster now believes that Jerry Dandrige was a serial killer and that vampires don’t exist. Now a college student with a new girlfriend, Alex Young (Traci Lind, who dated Dodi Fayed before Princess Diana), Charley sadly discovers that Peter Vincent is back to hosting Fright Night. As they leave Peter’s apartment, a new nemesis, Regine steals Charley’s attention. There’s even a new version of Evil Ed, a vampire named Louie (Jon Gries, who is great in everything he’s done from Joysticks and Real Genius to The Monster Squad and TerrorVision) who is making Charley and Alex’s lives hell.

It turns out that she’s Jerry Dandrige’s brother and here for revenge. Now, the tables are turned and Peter Vincent is the one who has to convince Charley that vampires are real. Even worse, she’s turning Charley into a vampire and has stolen the Fright Night hosting job away from Peter! There’s also a transgender rollerskating vampire, putting this movie years ahead of others in presenting LGBT roles (even if Belle is evil).

One small trivia note: the vampire form that Regine transforms into at the end was modeled after 45 Grave lead singer Dinah Cancer. If you don’t know her band, they sang the song “Partytime” from Return of the Living Dead.

There’s no way that this movie could live up to the original, but it tries. It hasn’t really been seen much, as LIVE Entertainment barely released it on home video. Artisan Entertainment released it on DVD in 2003, but it’s been out of print for a long time and commands big bucks. You can often find a bootleg of the high definition TV edition of the film at conventions (that’s where we got it!).

Written by Holland and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch and the original It, as well as the writer of Amityville II: The Possession, a movie I never cease trying to get people to watch), this movie suffered at the hands of a very real tragedy.

McDowall loved playing Peter Vincent and was eager to bring Holland back to make a third film, so he set up a meeting with the two of them and Carolco Pictures chairman Jose Menendez. Legend has it that the meeting did not go well. Later that night, Menendez and his wife were infamously murdered by their sons, Lyle and Erik. When McDowall learned of the news, he called Wallace and said “Well, I didn’t do it. Did you?”

As a result of the murders, Fright Night Part 2 lost its nationwide release schedule and only played in two theaters before being released directly to video. All of the planned advertising and public relations were canceled as well, which meant that most folks didn’t even know it was released until it showed up on video!

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