Fright Night was released in 1985, a couple of years before The Lost Boys revitalised a deader than dead vampire genre. It is a comedic re-imagining of the classic vampire film set in a modern day suburban estate. Charley is a typical horror obsessed teen trying to get his girlfriend Amy into bed when he spots some mysterious activity at the house next door. Could it be that a vampire has moved in?
This is one of those classic eighties horrors that is favourably coloured for me by a healthy dose of nostalgia. As a youngster Fright Night was one of several movies that captured my imagination and even watching it again now I found it hugely enjoyable. It may be a little rough around the edges with a few plot holes and gaps in the logic but the effects actually stand up pretty well and the cast give a good performance.
Charley is gazing out of his bedroom window one night when he catches sight of a young girl slipping off her bra. He grabs the binoculars but instead of some saucy action he sees his new next door neighbour, Jerry Dandridge, about to take a bite out of her. Dandridge clearly has fangs and when the news tells the tale of two missing girls Charley quickly realises that his neighbour is a vampire.
He tries to enlist the help of a local horror fan nicknamed Evil and then he appeals to washed up TV and horror film star Peter Vincent. Of course no one believes that Dandridge is really a vampire, much less that he is out to kill Charley. He has to figure out a way to convince his friends and get round Dandridge's day time helper, Billy. Naturally it turns out that Amy looks like some past love of Dandridge, in true vampire film formula and eventually everyone ends up at the creepy vampire house for a final showdown.
The special effects and make up are actually better than I remembered. There is much gore until late on in the film but a couple of scenes leap out at you. Firstly there's the reverse wolf transformation and then the bizarre melting death of Billy. It isn't entirely clear what the hell Billy was supposed to be now I mention it.
This was director Tom Holland's first feature and he did a fine job. He went on to direct Child's Play and a few Stephen King adaptations after this. The cast in Fright Night are excellent. Chris Sarandon plays the seductive vampire perfectly, William Ragsdale is good as the earnest Charley and Roddy McDowall has no problem convincing as the washed up horror star. Amanda Bearse went on to play the irritating Marcy in TV show Married with Children. The memorably geeky Stephen Geoffreys went on to do 976 Evil and then a huge load of gay porn according to IMDB.
Anyway Fright Night was daft and cheesy but it was fun. There are rumours of a remake, which shouldn't really come as a surprise since they are remaking everything now. No doubt it will be terrible.Short Review
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