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Fright Night (1985 film)

A horror-comedy about a teenager who discovers his new neighbor is a vampire.

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Funny, effectionate "must" in vampire entertainment!

  • Oct 19, 2011
Rating:
+4
***1/2 out of ****

"Fright Night" is what 80's horror cinema was all about; having fun without being overly dumb. To impress an intelligent audience, one had to actually WRITE a film and THINK about what made films such as this one work. I believe that "Fright Night" works because its writers were well-researched, and its director, Tom Holland (of "Child's Play" fame) knew - at the time - how to craft a well-made work of seemingly effortless entertainment. This is now one of my favorite vampire films; and I don't come across those too often. Perhaps that is because films such as "Twilight" plague the movie-screens of the world with PG-13 filth that dumbs down the vampire legend and lore for younger audience. But in the end, it's still films such as this one that keep us sane and engaged in what the vampire sub-genre of horror has to offer. And as far as vampire movies go, I'd say that "Fright Night" is rather great.

The screenplay works, and therefore, so does the film; since the movie essentially revolves around how well each storytelling element works. It's a satire, a homage to a now-lost genre, and also it's own film all-together; which is quite glorious indeed. I loved every comedic, creepy, entertaining moment of it.

You might know the premise, and then again, you might not. So here's the break-down; a typical high school kid named Charlie is facing problems both suitably normal and also atypical. As far as normal goes, he's having girlfriend troubles; the girl is uncertain of his habits and hobbies, which include watching horror films as well as other people, from his house, with a pair of ol' binoculars. One day, Charlie gets a new neighbor. Well actually, he gets two; Jerry (Chris Sarandon) and Billy (Jonathan Stark). Acting out on traditionally normal fashion to this new arrival, Charlie spies on his new neighbors and discovers them lifting a coffin into their basement. Charlie is terrified, but his mother has already been half-seduced by the handsome Jerry, and his friends - "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) and girlfriend Amy - are a bit skeptical or his supposive "sightings". Better yet, Charlie is completely fixated on the concept of Jerry being a real-life vampire. Perhaps he's been watching too many late-night horror flicks. Or maybe he's right.

After consulting the police and having no luck with foiling his neighbors' evil plans, Charlie must turn to his favorite nighttime horror-host; Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), for answers. Vincent - on screen - has many times claimed to be a vampire hunter, but he doubts himself, and his show is even cancelled due to the lack of concern or interest amongst his target audience. But Charlie gives him a second chance at getting his name out and noticed; through captured and/or killing the boy next door.

Yeah, it's simple. And yeah, sometimes it is absurd. But I loved "Fright Night" because it embraced just about everything that some might find to be "wrong" with it (clichés, familiarities, etc.), but one cannot deny that it has a heart; and it has stolen my own. It isn't often that I see a vampire movie with such rich social commentary. The film takes the time to take a little reality check; and therefore, if there is horror, then there's a good chance we will gladly relate to it. However, "Fright Night" is equally as interested in getting shrieks as it is laughs; and I will tell you up-front that this is a very funny film. One of the funniest vampire films I've seen, perhaps. One can't shake from their memory delightful moments of human comedy such as the ones that occur before the vampire plot even takes full-form. And the vampire scenes, well, let's just say they are ghoulishly fantastical. The make-up effects are outstanding, the score is atmospheric, and the cinematography is surprisingly inspired. Such things can almost always make a good movie, and not always a great one; but this time, I think it all works to the film's benefit.

The film also has two very special, memorable performances too. I am of course speaking of Sarandon as his vampire Jerry and McDowall as the vampire hunter, Peter Vincent. When it comes to cinematic vampires, I'd say Sarandon's portrayal of Jerry is pretty high up there. He's nasty, seductive, handsome, ominous, and absolutely demeaning. He does his job considerably right. Then there's McDowall, who gives what I believe to be the best performance in the film. He plays the late-night horror-host part very well indeed, with some dialogue that is often times both comic and personalized; no other actor could play his character quite like he does.

"Fright Night" is an old-fashioned vampire tale, and that was a part of the charm. It evokes nostalgia of the Gothic era of horror, and the modernized era as well. It's hip, quite jolly, and consistently enjoyable; a real marvel of a movie. I'll even go as far as to call it a classic; not only for its time, but for time all-in-all. There aren't many vampire films that can match it in either style or grace. It gave me a fright that I will try my hardest never to forget, and since entertainment is of value these days, I am recommending the film. If you want a great vampire flick, then you've got it.

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More Fright Night (1985 film) reviews
Quick Tip by . December 10, 2011
Welcome to fright night for real....super corney but funny and entertainingbat the same time. Riddled with crappy acting and 80's movie themes it made a good addition to my vampire movie collection.
review by . June 07, 2010
GRIPPING AND HUMOROUS VAMPIRE MOVIE
Flicking through the channels last night I stumbled upon Fright Night, a movie I have seen dozens of times, but not recently, and I was thrilled to stay up late to see it yet again.        I love vampire movies but so many can be way too gross (I like gross, but scary is better) and ridiculous, and of course a little sense of humor along with it makes it even better for me.  This was one movie that has thrilled me no matter how many times I've seen it.   …
review by . May 17, 2009
Fright Night is a horror film based upon the ever popular vampire genre that was making a come back during the 80's.   A nosy "kid" cast an wandering eye on the new neighbors. The suave handsome man and his weaselly looking buddy strike an eerie nerve within him, making his skin crawl. He's knows something is not right with the new people next door. Foolishly, he begins to snoop around the old house and discovers things that he shouldn't have. Charlie Brewster is his name, his best friend …
review by . June 11, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Fright Night is a horror movie in its most simplistic form. A teenage boy named Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale, "Herman's Head") believes that his next door neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon, "The Princess Bride") is a vampire. Of course no one believes him, especially his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse, "Married with Children") and his buddy "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffreys, "Heaven Help Us"). Oh by the way, Evil Ed's classic line in this movie is, "Oh you're so cool Brewster."     Amy …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #2
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Details

Director: Tom Holland
Genre: Horror
Release Date: August 2, 1985
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Tom Holland
DVD Release Date: September 7, 1999
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures
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