Horror movie fans who are in the market for the elegance of the Hammer productions of the 1960s or the economical chills of the Roger Corman oeuvre risk disappointment when seeking out most contemporary scare-fests. In the case of TO DIE FOR 2: SON OF DARKNESS, however, they will be
rewarded with a sleek modernization of vampire lore.
During the film's heart-pounding opening, we witness the bloody pulp that the night creatures make of one victim; then suspense mounts as an extremely pale woman named Celia (Amanda Wyss) lures a naive young man, Danny (Jay Underwood), into the woods. Gripped by pity for him, Celia spares him and
visits her vampire pal, Dr. Max (Michael Praed), who maintains a blood bank at his hospital for those quick sanguinary pick-ups. Both Danny and his sister Nina (Rosalind Allen) are drawn into the web of the bloodsuckers after Nina takes her adopted infant to Dr. Max; the baby never stops crying
but the vampire doc surmises what this wailing infant needs, and his mother is eternally grateful.
Meanwhile Martin (Scott Jacoby, playing a character who lost several friends in the original) rolls into town like a Junior League vampire hunter. While the cops are occupied treating Martin like a wacko, Dr. Max's out-of-control brother Tom (Steve Bond) is busy slaughtering and feasting on a
red-blooded couple in their home. True love blossoms for Nina, who's increasingly smitten with her darkly sensual doctor, as well as for Danny, who gets a sucker bite from Celia that just won't heal. After encountering ex-girlfriend and vampire victim Jane (Remy O'Neill), who tells Martin to warn
Nina, he visits Nina and presents her with a tome about the children of the night. Tom has the bad manners to snack on a patient of Dr. Max's, after which the brothers argue about Nina's child, a half-mortal/half-vampire who was fathered by Max.
Alarmed by Danny's strange sleeping habits and having perused the anti-Dracula book, Nina has her worst fears confirmed when Tom attacks her. As the action accelerates, Nina brings Max, Jr. to his daddy's house; Tom beheads Danny after Danny tries to prevent him from making the baby a
full-fledged vampire; Max battles Tom, who gets staked by Celia, who gets reciprocal treatment from Tom. Although Martin, having recovered from a minor traffic accident, arrives and disintegrates Dr. Max with some southern exposure, Nina is still left with a rather unusual adopted child.
Action-packed and graced with supple camerawork, TO DIE FOR 2: SON OF DARKNESS adds up to an above-average entertainment. The solidly constructed screenplay establishes intriguing conflicts early on and neatly works in a character from the 1989 original. Although Steve Bond bares his fangs with
more hamminess than menace, the other cast members play out their cross- purposes with surpassing passion. Alternately romantic (Max's gothic affair with Nina) and blackly comic (Tom's promise to kiss an unlucky couple's children goodnight for them), TO DIE FOR 2 never suffers from a collision of
styles--the individual moods of scenes jell without jarring from one sequence to the next.
Not since Katherine Bigelow's NEAR DARK in 1987 has a vampire yarn been so bloody entertaining. In weaving bold emotional moments with a sick humor, director David F. Price elicits tingles by never losing sight of the diametrically opposed conflicts in the screenplay. The juxtaposition of moods
is really an extension of the world-views of the individual characters. Although protective of her infant son and her brother, Nina can't deny her lust for a vampire; Max can't supress his unnatural urges but tries to adopt a non-violent lifestyle. Bringing the quirky screenplay to life with great
elan, Price creates some superb setpieces, like a stalking sequence in a deserted marina in which Tom crawls down the support system like an over-sized bat; or the POV shots, when Max succumbs to his bloodsucking nature and transforms himself into a ravenous wolf pursuing a female victim.
Unfortunately the film's execution is flawed in several key areas--the Nina/Max romance sizzles a little too rapidly; the make-up on Jane when Tom forces her to get a fatal sunburn is cheapjack; the Celia/Danny relationship remains underdeveloped. Some of these disappointments are due to
budgetary constraints; others are the byproduct of sacrificing mood in order to move the film along quickly enough to keep the less discriminating horror buff satisfied. If it isn't quite first-rate, TO DIE FOR 2 is remarkably good--scary enough to leave you on the edge of your seat and engrossing
enough to make you care for these twisted casualties of the vampires-vs-humans warfare. (Excessive violence, adult situations, nudity.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Horror movie fans who are in the market for the elegance of the Hammer productions of the 1960s or the economical chills of the Roger Corman oeuvre risk disappointment when seeking out most contemporary scare-fests. In the case of TO DIE FOR 2: SON OF DARK… (more)