[Movie Review] Fright Night (1985) ★★★★★

Fright Night sets its teeth into vampire fun with superb gory practical effects.

Fright Night is a supernatural body horror comedy with a vampire, a werewolf, a cowardly vampire slayer, a damsel in distress and a teenage boy who has to save his friends. It’s full of fun nods to the old Hammer horror films, the vampire tropes, and brilliant practical effects with a delightful campy feel. It’s both an ode and a parody to the old vampire movies. With fun scoffs to the eighties serial killers, at least a vampire has got real class and style. This wonderful fun and scary horror classic is a definite must-see. 

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17 Year-old Charley Brewster lives with his mom in the suburbs, where nothing ever happens. That is, until a new neighbor arrives, Jerry Dandrige and his live-in friend Billy Cole. Charley’s mother thinks they are a charming couple, but when Charley sees that a coffin is brought inside the house and a young woman goes missing who he saw going into Jerry’s house, he’s convinced that his neighbor is a vampire. His girlfriend Amy and his mother don’t believe him, and neither does his friend Evil Ed, so Charley realizes he needs help from an expert, Peter Vincent the host of the tv show Fright Night.

Why you would watch it

Fright Night has enormous fun tackling all the vampire tropes, using them to the fullest and with a lot of wonderfully made practical effects. The story is a typical story of a teenage boy whom nobody believes for he has a rich imagination. And everything he does to prove Dandrige is a vampire makes his situation worse and more dire even for his friends. Dandrige is a real villain who is out to get his girlfriend, mother and best friend who knows how to manipulate everyone and make Charley the imaginative foolish boy. And that’s a big part of the fun, the dangerous cat-and-mouse game they play. With a solid structure, the practical effects and the great characters, their behavior and reactions get full attention. 

It’s also a typical eighties film, with a lot of chaos, yelling and big fuzzes, and that is another big part of the charm of the movie. With Evil Ed as the noisy boy and Peter Vincent as the cowardly cynic who doesn’t believe in his own show or himself for that matter, they are both great counterparts to Charley, who’s brave, wants to be a hero and tries to think before he acts, trying to save everybody he cares about. While Dandrige can play the charismatic but evil vampire and can go all out. And that while vampires are out of fashion, according to Peter Vincent, whose name is derived from Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, two horror legends themselves of the classic films about vampires and other Victorian gothic tales. 

Most of the humor comes from the actions of the characters. Charley’s oblivious mother. Charley who desperately tries to unmask Dandrige but fails miserably every time, making him even less trustworthy. The low self esteem and self pity of Peter Vincent and the enthusiasm of Evil Ed all bring them into more trouble than they can handle. It all works greatly together so that the characters are real active players in the plot. It even has sometimes the feel of a farce that is acted out in a very fun way, being very aware of it. Always taking the characters seriously, the creation of the creatures and having big fun with all the tropes and awkward situations. 

Still, the horror isn’t forgotten. The transformations are quite the scenes and look amazing. And nobody is safe. They’re gory and gross and the practical effect are just amazingly done. It really shows there’s passion behind it, craftsmanship and a lot of effort but also creativity. 

Fright Night is one big fun nod to all these tropes, but is quite capable of being a great movie all by itself. The practical effects are brilliant, the fight scenes are over the top theatrical and super fun, and all is brought to you with a delightful campy feel, that knows exactly what kind of film it is. It does have a certain nostalgic feel about it, while also reveling in the eighties style, it immerses itself in horror of all times. It definitely is a classic that is funny and gory and scary and very entertaining. 

My favorite part

I really loved the part of Peter Vincent who actually turns out to be a terrible coward. But with Charley he overcomes his fears and becomes a real Van Helsing. His fight with Dandrige is brilliant and when the vampire turns into a bat, it gets even better. All the transformations are fantastic and very memorable. Well, the whole film is wonderfully put together. Everything is done just right, so it fits all perfectly together. It’s a very entertaining watch and a fantastic classic.  


Rating: ★★★★★

Fun factor: ★★★★☆

Gore factor: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★

Cast and crew

Fright Night is directed and written by Tom Holland. It stars William Ragsdale (Charley Brewster), Amanda Bearse (Amy Peterson), Stephen Geoffreys (Evil Ed), Roddy McDowall (Peter Vincent), Dorothy Fielding (Judy Brewster), Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige) and Jonathan Stark (Billy Cole).

Duration: 106 minutes. Music by: Brad Fiedel. Cinematography: Jan Kiesser. Edited by: Kent Beyda. Produced by: Herb Jaffe. Production company: Vista Films. Distributed by: Columbia Pictures.

Check the trailer below

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