The terror of Gerri the…oh, we did that already: “Fright Night 2: The New Blood”

October 18, 2013


Going into Fright Night 2: The New Blood, I wasn’t exactly optimistic. After all, it’s a non-theatrical release sequel which has none of the same actors as the major theatrical release original. Nothing good can come from this situation. Except that this movie stars Jaime Murray, and she’s not only hot, but also tends to get naked a lot. Like in everything she does. So, I figured what the hell, and watched it anyway. Look, I don’t always make very good decisions, and this one was no exception.

So, first thing that happens is that, apropos of nothing, a motorist in France is attacked by a weirdly werewolf-like vampire while she’s getting gas at a filling station. I mean, this is basically a feral animal that attacks her—and here I wondered if maybe this movie was going to follow in the footsteps of the ‘80s sequel to that Fright Night and throw some werewolves in the mix. Ah, nope, this is just a white-trash vampire or a ‘roid-rage vampire or something. Anyway, the motorist reacts to the attack by setting her car on fire (is this really the best Plan A? It seems like there’s probably a few stops on the use of force continuum before “blow up car.”) Anyway, the vampire eats her anyway, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the film, but only exists because I guess the filmmakers decided we needed to be told we were watching a vampire movie. Given that this is the sequel to a vampire movie, it’s safe to say the filmmakers don’t have a very high opinion of us.

These are our heroes--that's how little the movie likes us.

These are our heroes–that’s how little the movie likes us.

Once the movie proper starts, we find ourselves in Romania, and holy shit, that’s never a good thing. Movies shot in Romania basically announce to the audience, “Our budget is so low that we couldn’t even shoot in some backwater in a Red State where the local High School has a class devoted to shooting targets drawn to look like Barack Obama. You should adjust your expectations accordingly.” Or sometimes: “We really wanted to make a horror movie, but the only backers we could find are the Russian mafia gangs too dumb to leave Eastern Europe.” And even sometimes, “Hey, that money’s not gonna launder itself.” What it never says is, “Awesome movie coming up.”

And then Fright Night begins.

No, not the sequel. The original movie, because this (*cough*) sequel is just a remake of the 2011 and 1985 original. I shit you not. This movie tells the exact same story! And not in a Hangover 2 way, in which the characters find themselves in the same situation once again. Oh, no. This movie proceeds as if the first film never happened, with the same characters going through the same paces. Only here, Charlie Brewster has gone on a study-abroad trip to Romania, and it is his hawt art professor (Murray) who is the vampire whose nocturnal activities he watches from the window.

Or from his classroom...this movie doesn't try very hard.

Or from his classroom…this movie doesn’t try very hard.

Murray plays Gerri Dandridge (her first name is the only sign of wit in this movie), who is also, I guess, Elizabeth Bathory or something. This movie never quite figures out what it’s doing with Murray (except letting her slink around). She has to bathe in the blood of virgins to remain young, which is weird and sort of non-vampirey. But then she also needs the blood of a virgin born in the full moon for…something I’m not too clear on. And she’s still sucking her victim’s blood like any super-powerful vampire, so I’m not sure what the rules are supposed to be. It’s kind of like they assembled her character out of an edition of those poetry refrigerator magnets that were sold in an occult bookshop. The script is pretty much an afterthought. I’m not sure what the beforethought was, though.

Peter Vincent, now with 100% more douchebaggery.

Peter Vincent, now with 100% more douchebaggery.

The rest of the movie hits the same marks as the original Fright Nights, with Charlie’s friend “Evil” Ed being vampirized, and his only hope being horror-movie host Peter Vincent. Only in this case Vincent is the host of a Ghost Hunters-type “reality” TV show. Aside from that it is the same goddamn thing, just with worse actors and effects. Imagine if The Empire Strikes Back was about Luke Skywalker discovering his destiny as a Jedi and blowing up the Death Star, only it was shot in Romania and all the actors were played by the dudes who were Imperial commanders in the first movie. Oh, and Roger Corman produced it. Yep, that’s pretty much how this movie goes down.

And Jaime Murray never gets naked. She’s more than happy to do a soft-core lesbian scene with Lucy Lawless in Spartacus, but this movie is beneath her. Yeah, that’s pretty telling.

Start spanking, this is as good as it gets.

Start spanking, this is as good as it gets.

But we also have:

* Murray’s class begins with a choreographed light show more elaborate that a Pussycat Dolls concert. Because college is like that in Romania, apparently.

* In one scene, one of Murray’s intended victims is undressed by Murray’s shadow. It’s a neat idea, except they can’t get the shadow to line up right with the victim’s clothing. So shadow-fingers diddle with the women’s ear, while her bra gets unclasped by magic.

* This film has one fake-out scare every fifteen minutes. It’s annoying as hell.

* When Evil Ed turns into a vampire, the actor can’t talk through his false teeth. His impassioned monologue is all like, “Yur a prawd, Peher Visen! Yuh duh stah fuh anyteh..glrdb, sehsh sesh.” It loses some dramatic power.

“Mumble mumble mumble…”

* In one of the more batshit-crazy scenes, Peter Vincent fights off Evil Ed by pulling him in for a hug and forcing Ed’s face against the big cross tattooed on his chest. The camera angle abruptly changes to inside his body looking through a plexiglass chest wall where Ed’s face is smooshed against it like a dog who didn’t realize the patio door was closed. It’s…it’s just fucking lunacy.

* All the roles are played by Brits playing Americans (with the exception of Murray). I genuinely don’t know what’s happening with that.

*   Needless to say every one of the recast roles is a disappointment. The guy playing Charlie looks like a cut-rate Matthew Modine (let that sink a minute), and David Tennant should only ever be replaced by Matt Smith. Hell, even the makers of Broadchurch know that.

* This movie uses ridonkulous amounts of strobe-light effects. Because boring us with a lackluster sequel/remake wasn’t enough, the filmmakers also wanted to induce epileptic seizures.

So that’s Fright Night 2: The New Blood. I assume they just forgot to put “New” in quotes.

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