For members of the audience who are hazy on the details of Tom Holland’s masterstroke Fright Night, Tommy Lee Wallace rejiggers a highlight reel during the opening therapy sessions in which Charley Brewster’s (William Ragsdale) vampiric battle is expostulated by his psychiatrist as delusions. Strangely, despite the popularity of the predecessor, the home video release of this oft-forgotten sequel is out-of-print and can be exorbitant to acquire.
For all intensive purposes, this follow-up quickly discards the Rear Window framework for a more libidinous bent as Regine Dandrige (Julie Carmen) impinges on the rhapsodies of Charley in a gender-reversed seduction of her brother’s exsanguineous conquests. It’s not a gradual flirtation or labyrinthine revenge plot as Charley’s neck is punctured pretty early on in order for him to metamorphose into one of the undead. Regine’s shtick become an archaic relic of the era with her gyrating in new-wave, interpretative dances instead of introductions to the films featured on the cable-access show.
However, the lackeys of Regine are more oafish clodhoppers than frightening, nocturnal creatures (a nightstalker on rollerskates, an insect-gnashing chauffeur and a werewolf who topples off a building in a buffoonish pratfall after his fingernails are severed by a window sill). Not only is a bowling montage with them mostly mirthless, it is also pointless cushioning.
Roddy McDowell is still a hammy delight as horror host Peter Vincent. He is tantamount parts Zacherley and Byronic nobleman. Once again Charley is a pretty inattentive, derelict boyfriend as he doesn’t communicate with her about his condition and is more infatuated with B-movie lore than her. After awhile, Charley and Vincent’s variations on belief and disbelief are frustratingly repetitive.
The backstory behind why a third installment was never greenlit is one of Hollywood legend. It involves the Mendez brothers and a limited theatrical window from the Carolco Pictures which only yielded 2.9 million in box office receipts. Like most sleeper hits of the 80’s, Fright Night should’ve been a singularity.