Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

RUN TIME- 106 Mins
WRITER(S)- Tom Holland
STARRING- Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, and Amanda Bearse
DIRECTOR- Tom Holland

Synopsis taken from IMDb
When a teenager learns that his next door neighbor is a vampire, no one will believe him.

When I say that "Fright Night" is my second favorite vampire film ever, the first question I'm asked is the obvious 'what's your first favorite?' So, I'll nip that in the butt now, and say that if you want to know what my favorite vampire film of all-time is, you'll have to pop back in next Thursday once I review it, and see. Tom Holand's classic blood sucker tale, "Fright Night" is an ageless classic that has stuck with me since my childhood. Still considered by some genre fans as the best of its kind, and still has as strong a fan base as ever. 

Seeing as it was released two years before I was born, and I remember it from my childhood, it's clear that I've got some history with this piece of cinema. "Fright Night" is one of the movies that I will fight with people over (laugh). It was amazing for it's time, and it still outshines 95% of what's released today and passed off as vampire flicks. I think that at the core, it's genuinely fantastic, and the tagline says it all; "If you love being scared, it'll be the night of your life!" And back then in 1985 and prior, taglines meant something, they had merit. Nowadays, whatever will sell will be on the poster and video cover, with no integrity attached.

I wonder if Charley had it to do over again, if he'd still pick a battle with Dandrige?

I can't really say how old I exactly was when I was exposed to the excellence of this 1985 masterpiece, but I know I was single digits. One thing I do remember is, after watching it late at night with my Dad and sister, I wouldn't stop looking at my neighbors house through my bedroom window. I guess my immature imagination ran away with itself, but I was almost waiting to see my friendly neighbors next door carrying a body and putting it in their trunk. However, although I do have emotional attachment to a film doesn't mean that I have a biased opinion of it. I'm still going to be as fair and honest as I am with every other review I do. No film is perfect, and I always try and see the other side of things; why some fans may not enjoy it as much as others. 

I always have an open ear to listen for what critics say, and I do my best to see it from their point of view. That being said, I still think that "Fright Night" is amazing, and has hardly any flaws that truly damage the movie's purpose.

Just be thankful the pencil wasn't through your heart, Jerry.

It all starts with Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), and his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse), who's trying to take things to the next sexual stage in their relationship. But, she is ignored by Charley due to him seeing the new neighbors carrying a casket into their home. All the while, 'Fright Night', a local television station that plays vampire trash cinema from the 70's, and is hosted by vampire slaying actor Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), is playing on the TV in the background. Peter Vincent, and his films have a deep impression on Charley. Soon, Charley's neighbors' activity becomes his life, and he becomes obsessed with watching for suspicious activity. Once he makes the accusation that his neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire, neither his girlfriend Amy, or his best friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), believe him and believe him to be mad. 

After being confronted and firmly warned by Dandrige to back off and leave him be, Charley only makes his situation worse by not only declining the generous offer of his life for Jerry's privacy, but by hurting the vampire by stabbing him in the hand with a pencil. From there, Charley is in fear of his life, and knows that he needs help.

I still think I'd be more concerned with seeing an orthodontist than a dermatologist.

So what does Charley do in his desperation? He meets up with  his idol Peter Vincent, and looks like a crazed fan, much like some horror genre fans I know. Once Peter refuses to help, it's up to Amy and Ed to pay and convince a broke Peter, to play along with Charley for a night in Charley's supposed delusional fantasies. And their objective is to meet Jerry Dandrige in his home and prove that he's not a creature of the night. Only there's two kinks in what seemed like a flawless plan; one of them being that Amy reminds Jerry of his past love and now is infatuated with her, and the other flaw being that in trying to prove Jerry's innocence, Peter accidentally proves his guilt upon seeing that Jerry casts no reflection...

Just a few moments later during their walk home, Evil Ed is bitten and turned by Dandrige in an alleyway. Jerry uses his charm to make Ed feel empowered, and uses it to turn him against Charley. Then, Charley and Amy are chased through a nightclub by Dandrige, who eventually takes Amy and challenges Charley to come to his house and get her back. So again, Charley turns to Peter, who while reluctant, mans-up and agrees to do what he's pretended to do in all of his films. 

Peter Vincent proves he's not a coward...kinda...

Once they're in Jerry's house, they have to take on Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), Jerry's daytime watcher. Billy proves to be almost unstoppable, as does Evil Ed, who is executed by Peter during his werewolf form (because these vampires are the traditional shape-shifting kind). With Jerry all alone, he now adds Amy to his team after turning her into a blood sucker. Once Charley and Peter are able to hold Amy off, they succeed in killing of Dandrige. Luckily, Jerry's bloodline dies with him, so Amy is turned back into a normal human being. It ends happy, but with a cliffhanger as Charley and Amy finally take their relationship to the next step, only for the viewer to see red eyes next door and hear Evil Ed's voice.

While there's been a sequel that's not bad, and a remake that's good, but not as-good, "Fright Night" stands on it's own. No sequel or remake has been able to tackle the brilliance and fun that make it what it is. It's stood the test of time so far, and I'm confident that it'll continue to do so in the years to come. Both because it's an awesome experience, and because it's a fun time. It allows you to be scared and enjoy yourself. Not many horror films can achieve that. 

I'm just awaiting and hoping for a Blu-Ray release that isn't close to $300 like the one available now. Until that day, I'll be just fine with my trusty DVD. 

4 stars out of 5


  1. I've loved this movie ever since I first saw it as a teen (I'm dating myself here). Among my circle of friends, I'm sort of known as the horror gal, so when I pull this one out as my favorite vampire movies, they all roll their eyes and say, "It's so 80's". I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that loves this classic. I feel like it's really stood the test of time.

    1. Hi Chriseda! Thanks for stopping by and reading. Yeah, like you, I also watch 80's films and get complaints from friends. But, in the end, they come around and like them too most of the time. Some people don't have good taste, so you have to teach it.

  2. LOL I'll have to remember to tell them that I'm "teaching them good taste" next time!


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