Sunday, April 8, 2012

B-Movie Classics: Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night

Apparently your generation doesn’t want to see vampire killers anymore, nor vampires either. All they want to see slashers running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins.

The Stats

The Director:  Tom Holland
The Cast:  Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowell, Stephen Geoffreys
The Release Date: 1985
The Runtime: 106 Minutes

The Plot

Teenager Charlie Brewster is just your average everyday kid with a big love for old cheesy horror movies. When new neighbor Jerry Dandridge moves in next door, Charlie starts to suspect that there is something very strange about him. After doing a little spying, he realizes that Jerry is actually a vampire. No one believes him, of course, and he’s forced to go to the one man who he thinks can help him: Peter Vincent, the host of a local TV show, “Fright Night.” Vincent refuses, trying to tell Charlie that he’s just an actor, but after getting laid off by the TV station he does the job for money. Only Charlie, Peter and the annoying side kick “Evil” Ed bite off more than they can chew.

The Lowdown

What director Tom Holland succeeds at with this film is creating a horror movie/comedy that is both amusing as well as also being legitimately scary. If you liked Scream you’ll like Fright Night. The film is self-aware. In other words, it knows it’s a horror movie… specifically a vampire movie. It uses your expectations about horror movies and turns them around you. I have to say, the first time I saw this, I was legitimately surprised by how good it was. I expected a cheesy 80s horror movie… and instead I got a cheesy 80′s horror movie that KNEW it was a cheesy 80′s horror movie. It succeeds as both horror and as comedy… which is a rare accomplishment.

The cast is very decent. Chris Sarandon plays the vampire, Jerry. He totally pulls off the mid-80′s douchebag vibe (who also happens to be a vampire.) He was also Prince Humperdink in The Princess Bride. Seriously, does this dude play anything other than shit-eating asswipes? William Ragsdale plays Charlie, the main character… nothing much here. He was competent, but not amazing. Amanda Bearse as Charlie’s girlfriend/damsel in distress was also fine, again nothing special. The most memorable thing about her is the fact that halfway through the movie you’ll realize she played Marcy on “Married With Children.” Stephen Geoffreys played the perfectly annoying “Evil” Ed. He was good in as much as he was really fucking annoying and you wanted to drive a fist through his skull. You’re kind of glad when he meets his eventual fate. (Interesting side note, that actor went on to become a gay porn actor. Seriously, look it up. It’s weird.) The star of the movie is clearly Roddy McDowell, however. He’s so perfect as this ridiculous washed up actor, that you end up really cheering for him when he mans up and actually has to go fight vampires.

Fright Night is fun as hell movie. It’s got laughs. It’s got horror. It’s got some really very decent special effects. The vampire and werewolf make-up still hold-up, I think. Just don’t dismiss this film as another cheesy 80s horror movie. Trust me, it’s better than most vampire movies out there today.

Watch this film if you like movies such as: