Belle, The Silent Queer in ‘Fright Night 2’ [The Lone Queer]

Fright Night Part 2

One of the pinnacles of queer 80s horror is 1985’s Fright Night. Okay, it’s not outright queer. It gives more queer-coded than anything. But, some will slam their hands down on the table to declare the queerness of that vampire film. But what about the lesser known, under-appreciated sequel that arrived three years later in 1988, Fright Night Part 2

The Queerness of Fright Night Part 2

In Fright Night Part 2, another mighty vampire is entering the lives of Charley (William Ragsdale) and Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall). That vampire is Regine, (Julie Carmen), the sister of Fright Night’s defeated antagonist, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon). Regine wants revenge on those who brought an end to Jerry. Fright Night Part 2 has the same queer flare that the original did. What else did it do? It gave us a more obvious, although never outright stated, queer character. Regine comes with her own entourage, and amongst that entourage is Belle, portrayed by choreographer extraordinaire Russell Clark.

Belle acts as Regine’s right-hand person, her bestie, her confidant. Sound familiar? It’s that singular trait so many queer characters seem to possess if the film doesn’t focus on them. This is the 80s. This is a mainstream film. Past Lone Queers have shown us no different. I probably won’t quit reiterating this because it’s usually the case. But it’s slightly okay because we were—in turn— gifted with such a character as Belle. 

But Is Belle Actually Queer?

One may ask how do we know that Belle is queer? It could be based on their look which consists of a shimmery wardrobe, teased hair magnificence, and a perfectly beat face. That’s stereotyping, though. There is the glam rock moment of the 70s and 80s which wasn’t at its highest point in 1988 but is still lingering in the air. Then there’s Belle’s first kill. He attacks whilst on roller skates. Roller skates! Yes, there’s awareness that this doesn’t contribute to being queer, yet how wonderfully camp and badass is that scene? Belle’s signature is their roller skate attack on an unsuspecting art student with his hair flowing in the wind. He strikes such a fucking pose moments before the attack. That pose is cemented in my and other’s brains as an iconic moment within the film. 

If solid proof is needed that Belle is queer, it comes in a scene in which both he and Regine seduce an unsuspecting victim, Richie (Merrit Butrick). Charley sees Richie in the midst of foreplay with Regine and Belle. Richie is clad in a revealing silk robe while the two vampires blindfold him, caress him, tease him, and then go in for the blood-sucking. Belle takes the neck while Regine takes the wrist. This makes Belle seem like the priority in this seductive sucking. He’s granted the pivotal location for consuming human blood. Regine is the true bestie for giving him the prime spot, as well as even sharing her prey.

Body Talk

Those are the few tidbits that we get from the film when it comes to Belle’s sexuality. It may not be entirely obvious, but it’s obvious enough. We don’t need Belle to blatantly tell us his sexuality. And Belle never does. He never actually says anything about himself. He doesn’t utter one word throughout the entire film. Everything that we learn about Belle is shown through expression. Instead of words, Belle’s body does all of the talking. His body language shows that he enjoys seducing Richie. He enjoys providing comfort and protection for Regine. Plus, he fucking loves roller skating. I mean, there’s a montage of Regine’s entourage bowling, and Belle is bowling in roller skates. Roller skates!

Belle’s lack of words speaks to the placement of a queer within the 80s. While I only experienced the latter half of the 80s as a child, the queer experience was constantly silenced during that time. It was also feared due to the AIDS pandemic, religious bigots, and the lack of wanting to understand something outside of a heteronormative life. Yet, Belle exemplifies being a queer. They may not have verbally expressed themself, but visually, they deliver bonafide queer perfection. 

The Silent Queer of Fright Night Part 2

Within the film, we don’t learn why they are mute. They just are. This is a stark difference from previous Lone Queers portrayed in the 80s and 90s. Usually, the queer person during this era is fodder for humor. Quips are spouted. Shade is thrown. One-liners are abundant. Belle had none of that. Well, just kidding, Belle definitely threw a ton of shade using only their face, and they threw it with expertise. The looks he would give when one of their entourage would do something that warranted shade didn’t need words. And much like the queer characters of the 80s, they do meet their end. This was inevitable, though, as they are one of the antagonists. 

Belle’s silent yet extremely loud queerness is all thanks to Russell Clark. He created a character that was loud without using his literal voice. This different kind of voice is so loud that there are multiple tributes to Belle, as well as Clark. Midnight Social Distortion (Mark O. Estes) has a wonderful piece explaining how Belle and Clark shaped their queer perspective. Not just a queer perspective, but a black queer perspective. As Estes points out,  Belle and Russell Clark should be championed for their place within black queer horror.

Choreographed Horror

Even if you think you aren’t aware of Russell Clark, you’ve definitely seen his work. He choreographed moments within Vamp (1986), Teen Witch (1989), Doppelganger (1993), Fallen (1998), and Scary Movie 2 (2001) among many other non-horror films and TV shows. He choreographed music videos for Grace Jones, Gloria Estefan, David Bowie, Queen Latifah, Pat Benatar, and more. Clark passed away in 2002 due to cancer, but he has a legacy that lives on, which includes the incredible Belle.

If you’re a Drag Race watcher, you may have seen one of the queens, Sapphira Cristál, perform in a vampiric and blue getup during the finale. This may be my own delusion, but I swear her look during that lip sync was an homage to Belle. The shimmery blue gown/bodysuit, the vampire teeth, the simple yet perfect face, all of it screamed Belle. The sliding across the stage on their knees was even reminiscent of Belle’s roller skating. I may have screamed much louder if Sapphira had done the number while on roller skates. So in my universe, Sapphira Cristál was definitely paying homage to Belle. 

Belle may not be at the top of most queer horror character lists, but he should be. Belle and Russell Clark are absolute queer excellence within the horror zeitgeist for what they give in Fright Night Part 2. This is why both the character and performer should be constantly and highly celebrated. There isn’t another character out there in the horror world that matches Belle’s energy and roller skating ability.

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