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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
"Evil is powerful. Monsters are real. The forces of darkness are at work everywhere. I know. I have gazed into the jaws of the beast. I have felt his claws at my throat."
DVD ReviewThis uneventful sequel to the satisfying Fright Night once again reunites Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) and former horror star-turned vampire hunter Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), but the magic from the original is noticeably lacking this time around. Helmed by Halloween III director Tommy Lee Wallace, Fright Night Part II makes the dreadful mistake of having too little Peter Vincent and more than enough Charlie Brewster.
It's been three years since the events of the first film, when Charlie and Peter teamed up to do battle and destroy evil vampire Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon). As we learn in this sequel, Charlie is in therapy, trying to work through his alleged vampire delusions, and hasn't been in contact with horror movie television host Peter since that night. In one of those simplistic sequel coincidences, the one night Charlie and his gal pal Alex (Traci Lin) happen to visit Peter is the same night a new group of creepy neighbors are moving in, this time led by sexy Regine (Julie Carmen). All of this is conveniently visible through an open window, and Peter is instantly smitten by the mysterious Regine, who in another tired reveal turns out to be the sister of Jerry Dandridge.
What follows is the old "main character falling under the mind control of sexy vampire while his friends eventually have to save the day" storyline, and it is as sluggish onscreen as you might expect, without any of the comedic elements found in the original. The new group of evil beings wants to be wacky, and includes a werewolf/vampire combo (Jon Gries) played for some occasional cheap laughs, an asexual roller-skating vamp (Russell Clark) and a massive, bug-eating Renfield clone (The X-Files shapeshifter Brian Thompson), all led by the sultry Regine. While Fright Night used Fontella Bass' Rescue Me so effectively (especially in the trailer), Tommy Lee Wallace tries injecting a similar nugget, this time Wilson Pickett's In The Midnight Hour during the silly "vampires go bowling" sequence, and it plays more like desperate mimicry than anything else.
Roddy McDowall is sorely underused in Fright Night Part II, and that is just utterly inexcusable. His Peter Vincent character is a hoot, a mix of subtle comedy and faded glory, and he truly lights up this weak sequel anytime he is onscreen. I only wish we had less Charlie Brewster and more Peter Vincent. What in the hell was Tommy Lee Wallace thinking?
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: I could possibly forgive not having this film issued in widescreen format if the transfer was decent, but that is just not the case here. Issued in 1.33:1 full-frame, Artisan has uncorked a grainy, smeary mess of a transfer that is absolutely awful. If the grain weren't bad enough, the fleshtones are way too hot, while black levels are thick and impenetrable. This is an example where the transfer is so distractingly bad that I found myself paying more attention to it than the film itself.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in an artificial and hollow-sounding 2.0 Dolby stereo surround mix. Dialogue is clear enough, but it has a forced spatial feel to it, which makes everything sound detached and flat. Rears get used for score stingers and a few discrete effects, but largely this is relegated to the front channels.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Extras Review: Nothing that could be construed as an extra here, other than 20 chapter stops.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsBad sequel. Bad sequel. Down boy. Bad sequel.
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