Fright Night Retrospective Part Two: How the 80s Damn Near Killed Sequels, Fright Night 2 Underwhelms Everyone and How The Menendez Brothers Destroyed Fright Night 3

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At the time Columbia Pictures was set to release writer/director Tom Holland’s Fright Night in theaters on August 2nd, 1985, the horror world was much bleaker than the story created by Holland in the flick, which gave genre fans a change of pace from the endless cavalcade of slasher flicks that preceded its release in the late summer of 1985.

Fright Night: A Look Back at the Original Film

After some heavyweight movies like Cat’s Eye, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge unleashed some very dark and straight-laced genre fare on audiences in theaters everywhere that year, Fright Night managed to make a huge impression in the film world: Not only did Holland’s refreshing script reinvigorate the horror world with a classic storytelling approach that hearkened to the Universal Monsters age of cinema, but it also reintroduced the idea of incorporating some heart and respect toward the genre as a whole, making the film an instantaneous classic with horror die-hards everywhere.

Once Fright Night proved to be a fruitful venture for all parties involved in its creation, the wheels were eventually put in motion for a sequel, which would eventually be released on May 19, 1989. With a four-year lapse in release dates, Fright Night 2 was doomed from the start, and the sequel floundered, only to eventually rake in about $2.9 million in box office receipts during its two-week theatrical release.

In Part Two of Dread Central’s exclusive video retrospective series with Tom Holland, we talk with him about the world of horror during the 1980s (something he’d know a thing or two about), the poor treatment of sequels by Hollywood during the 80s, his thoughts on Fright Night 2 and how the infamous serial killer siblings The Menendez Brothers managed to destroy Holland and McDowall’s plans for a Fright Night 3.

Check out Part Two of our four-part series below as well as two more exclusive photos provided to us by Holland, courtesy of make-up guru Steve Johnson. Also, make sure to check back here tomorrow for more with Holland, who talks extensively about the creature work and special make-up effects created for the original Fright Night in the next installment of our retrospective series.



Fright Night Retrospective Part Two: How the 80s Damn Near Killed Sequels, Fright Night 2 Underwhelms Everyone and How The Menendez Brothers Destroyed Fright Night 3 (click for larger image)

Fright Night Retrospective Part Two: How the 80s Damn Near Killed Sequels, Fright Night 2 Underwhelms Everyone and How The Menendez Brothers Destroyed Fright Night 3 (click for larger image)

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  • theGoldenSimatar

    Geez, in my Production Practicum class we were just talking about rights and having that paper trail when I brought up the recent Conan lawsuit. That’s insane amount of juggling.

    Another great interview. Surprised that Holland was so even in his response about Fright Night 2. Expected all venom instead he’s quite logical and calm.

  • Masked Slasher

    What’s the connection between all the 1981 horror films (Howling, Friday 2, etc.) and Fright Night though? Am I missing something?

    • bitterman23

      Yeah that confused me too. Friday was up to part 5 by then.

      • The Woman In Black

        Mystery solved! Those movies were part of another retrospective thing she was doing and somehow got included here. This story’s been updated with the correct flicks from 1985.

        • Masked Slasher

          Cool! I get REALLY OCD about that stuff, as you well know. 🙂

          Fucking great piece all-around tho. Really looking forward to the next two parts.

          Sony could and should grab this stuff for that Blu-ray release I’m regularly fantasizing about.

          • thehorrorchick

            Yeah, sorry guys…was working on something related to AAWIL for its 30th anniversary at the same time I was writing this up and I left my 81 reference page open rather than my 85…Yes, I am a moron sometimes! 🙂 But thanks for catching it- it’s nice to know people DO pay attention to stuff I do! 😉

          • thehorrorchick

            Oh! and I would LOOOOOVE to do something along the lines of mini-docs that could turn into special features but I feel with the general genre doc malaise lately (seriously, no one’s gonna top NEVER SLEEP AGAIN in my book so I feel lame even trying at this point) so that’s part of my hesitation…it sucks because everyone involved from 1 and 2 is easily accessible for us and I have lived these movies for so long that I would love to see them get their due (even part 2 which I still love).

            I just wouldn’t really know if the effort would be worth it in the end. To me it would be but it’s hard to tell just how MANY fans out there would really want this…

            I’d be interested in hearing responses to the prospect of doing something like that though..

  • Masked Slasher

    Wow, that’s an amazing bit of trivial about the Menendez bros. Those bastards!

    For the record, I really like FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2. It’s nowhere near as good, but Ragsdale and McDowall retained so much great chemistry that their relationship lays the foundation for a script that was anchored by an admittedly goofy premise (Charlie’s therapy).

    All the performances were good and the FX very solid. And that black rollerskating vampire chick still gives me the creeps – even today!

    I think it’s an underrated sequel.

    • Uncle Creepy

      The rollerskating vamp was a chick?

      • LifeMi

        The rollerskating vamp Belle was played by Russell Clark, so I’ll assume it’s a guy, but it was hard to tell. And I sort of agree with Matt; I enjoyed Fright Night II, even though it’s far from a good movie.

        • Masked Slasher

          Wait really? Holy shit! I have always assumed it to be a woman … AND I JUST WATCHED IT THE OTHER NIGHT.


          • LifeMi

            According to Flixster and IMDB, he is the son of tap-dancer Steve Clark from the Clark Brothers and, save for one TV movie, he was mainly a choreographer on films like The New Guy, House Party 3, Xanadu, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. He died in 2002.