Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Character Spotlight- Melissa "Mouse" Franklin- Merle Kennedy- Night Of The Demons 2 (1994)

**This post contains spoilers**

So Angela Franklin's (Amelia Kinkade) sister is a real troublemaker, right? She's a real hell-raiser, someone, who's not afraid of trouble, or danger! Well, if that's what you're expecting from the younger sister of the demon villainess, then you're in for a big surprise.

Melissa Franklin (Merle Kennedy) is not a rebel, a free spirit, or a loose cannon. She's a geeky outcast at St. Rita's Academy (a Catholic school for troubled teenagers), and to make matters worse, Melissa is the primary target for Shirley Finnerty's (Zoe Trilling) wrath. Melissa trusts Bibi (Cristi Harris) as her best friend on campus, and Sister Gloria (Jennifer Rhodes) plays the role of a watchful protector for Melissa, but Shirley devises a plan with her boyfriend Rick (Rick Peters), and Rick's best friend, Z-boy (Darin Heames) to lure Melissa into a devious prank/trap.

Terri (Christine Taylor) is a proud member of the "Bullying Melissa brigade," but after a reassuring seal of approval from Bibi, Melissa accepts Shirley's invitation to a special Halloween party. Johnny (Johnny Moran) is looking for a romantic night with Bibi, so he joins the party, and Johnny's best friend, Kurt (Ladd York) follows the group for a night of spooky fun. The big surprise for Melissa? The party is at Hull House, the home of Angela's disastrous Halloween party. The sight of her sister's final resting place sends Melissa into a panic, but Z-boy (wearing a Halloween a mask) forces Melissa into the house after a surprise scare.

Perry (Robert Jane, credited as Bobby Jacoby) uses his rich knowledge of demonology to lend a helping hand, but a suspicious Sister Gloria is running out of time, and an inept Father Bob's (Rob McCary) arrogance complicates any plans for an immediate rescue mission. Melissa is on a collision course for a deadly reunion with her demonic sister, and the situation takes a bizarre turn for the worst, when Angela uses a tube of lipstick as vessel to crash the Halloween part at St. Rita's Academy.

Mouse? It's a suitable nickname for Angela's little sister. She's tiny and soft spoken, but Melissa  has a "MY NAME IS!" moment during the big finale (more on that later). It's easy to feel sympathy for Melissa, because she's a lonely outcast. Melissa receives support from Bibi, Perry, and Sister Gloria, but Shirley and her minions launch an attack to make Melissa's life a living hell. Oh, and you can't forget about Angela.

For me, the relationship between Angela and Melissa is the major highlight in Night Of The Demons 2. Why? Because Night Of The Demons 2 puts a noticeable amount of effort into Melissa's backstory. More often than not, low budget horror sequels take the lazy approach to capitalize off of the name value from a successful or praised original, and the end result is a cheap and forgettable knock-off, with a shabby story and a terrible cast.

Anyway, at St. Rita's Academy, the sight of Angela frightens Melissa (for obvious reasons), but Angela reassures Melissa with a hug (luckily, Angela's hug obstructed Melissa's view of Angela's demonized face). Melissa wants to believe in Angela's promise for a second chance at a happy relationship with her big sister. Technically, Angela is the only living family member in Melissa's life, because Angela and Melissa's parents committed suicide after the horrifying sight of a special Halloween card from Angela.

But a crafty Angela deceives Melissa into a return trip to Hull House to complete the family reunion. Angela uses her powers, and her demonized followers (Shirley, Z-boy, and Rick) to eliminate members of the rescue team (a foolish and dimwitted Father Bob and Perry). In the end, Sister Gloria, Johnny, and Bibi are the remaining survivors in the fight to save Melissa.

Angela uses her powers to stop Bibi and Johnny, and Sister Gloria goads Angela into trading places with Melissa on her death bed. Angela pushes Melissa to murder Sister Gloria with her sword (still one of my biggest pet peeves for 2, because they never explained the origins for the sword). If Melissa murders Sister Gloria, Angela will complete her mission to demonize Melissa with evil powers.  Melissa flashes a devilish smile, while an antsy Angela pushes Melissa to finish off Sister Gloria.

"NOW MOUSE!!!" That's one of Angela's final warnings to Melissa. Melissa's retaliation? "MY NAME IS MELISSA!!!" Melissa turns the tables on Angela with a hard stab to the gut, and Sister Gloria reduces Angela to a gooey puddle with some help from a super soaker (with holy water as the secret ingredient). Of course, Angela returns as a giant snake during sunrise.......and after her "demise," she returns as a snake inside a tube of lipstick to close out the movie.

Melissa Franklin is a memorable character in the Night Of The Demons franchise. Merle Kennedy provides a handful of laughs, and she's a front-runner for the best performance in the sequel. It's an impressive feat, when you consider a returning Amelia Kinkade in top form, as a darker and more confident version of Angela, and Jennifer Rhodes' hilarious parody performance as a strict nun.

Unfortunately, Melissa is a one and done deal for Night Of The Demons. It's a shame, because a storyline for a returning Melissa in Night Of The Demons 3 is loaded with potential. Imagine the possibilities. Melissa returns for a little sister vs big sister showdown in a fight to the death at Hull House, and you can't rule out the possibility of Angela using her signature sword (with an explanation for the origins of the sword) for revenge. But it's all in the past now, and we'll never know.....

If you're interested, you can follow this link to read my spoiler review for Night Of The Demons 2-


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