Fright Night (1985)
Director: Tom Holland
Writer: Tom Holland
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, Roddy McDowall
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 106 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
USA Release: 8/2/1985
On DVD (USA): 12/21/2004
I doubt you have ever lived next door to a vampire, I mean my neighbors aren’t bloodsuckers…or at least I think so. With “Fright Night” they poke a bit of fun at the genre itself while delivering a thrilling adventure that will have you wanting more when it’s over. It’s a fun trip back to the 80’s, with their synthesizers and weird hairstyles, although it might not send chills down your spine, it will deliver some good laughs and great entertainment.
“Fright Night” follows Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), who one night while hanging out with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and watching old horror movies on TV witnesses his neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) move in. Fascinated by the fact that Jerry carried a coffin inside, he starts to watch him. After nothing seemed to happen he lets it go until one day after school he sees on the news that a girl he had helped find his new neighbors’ house the day before has wound up dead. Still unsure he starts watching next door again, and soon sees that his new neighbor Jerry is in fact a vampire. With this information, he tries to tell his mother and then Amy, but both of them think he has lost him mind. So he decides to turn to the police, who come over to check things out, but as soon as they find out Charley thinks he’s a vampire, they leave. Knowing that Jerry will find out he knows, Charley turns to his friend Ed “Evil” (Stephen Geoffreys), who although doesn’t believe him, tells him how to protect himself from a vampire. And soon it’s a game of cat and mouse as Charley now has to protect not only himself but also his friends and family from Jerry Dandridge.
This comedic look at the horror genre is pretty much pitch perfect. Even if it is a little dated, the story is so universal that you almost forget it was made back in 1985. Tom Holland who wrote and directed this did a superb job with smooth and smart storytelling and directing that there is never a dull moment. It not only delivered a fun and entertaining story but also some smartly written comedy, although it isn’t always in the laugh out loud sort of way. It keeps to the same guidelines of any horror flick, while also using and making fun of the stereotypes. As for the soundtrack/score, it’s not the most interesting as it uses the same creepy pop theme throughout. But it works well within the movie that you might just end up missing it. What to stick around for is the song in the end credits that is the movie’s title theme song, “Fright Night” sung by The J. Geils Band. It’s not surprising that it would have that kind of song, seeing as it was done in a lot of movies from the 50’s, 60’s and 80’s. Another great thing in this movie is the excellent make-up effects that instead of doing it with CGI like many movies do now, it uses good old fashion make-up, and it was frightening to boot for it’s time. Of the supporting cast that was made up of Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, Roddy McDowall, the latter two were what made the movie as funny and entertaining. McDowall who plays Peter Vincent, the vampire killer that host a late night movie program and ends up getting caught in the chase, did a terrific job. As for Geoffreys who played Ed “Evil” really steals the movie with his antics and comedic timing. Now I can’t forget the stars of this, Chris Sarandon’s Jerry Dandridge was fantastic as the stylish and calmly sadistic vampire. Every time he is on the screen he just has this ease not only with the character but in his acting as well. As for William Ragsdale he did a great job as Charley Brewster, I was surprised to find out that this was basically his feature film debut having only had a very small role in another film. He was very good overall; very convincing and made a great hero and lead.
Overall “Fright Night” is an nice cult classic to pop in every now and then, especially around Halloween time. Filled with great laughs and a enjoyable story, how can you not go wrong with this. Great performances all around, especially by Ragsdale, Sarandon, McDowall and Geoffreys. Don’t miss out on all of the fun of having a vampire as your next door neighbor, rent, buy, it doesn’t matter, just get you hands out it and enjoy a “Fright Night”