Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Favorite Era: Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night is a great example of a good old fashioned fun house style horror movie done 80's style.  William Ragsdale plays Charley Brewster, a young man who has found out that his neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire.  His girlfriend Amy, played by Amanda Bearse thinks he's crazy, the cops think he's wasting their time and even his weirdo best friend Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) thinks he's got a screw loose.  After some fretting, he enlists the aid of washed up horror actor Peter Vincent (Roddy  McDowall) who eventually learns that the things he fought in the movies can also turn up in real life.

Fright Night is just plain fun with great acting, great f/x from Richard Edlund (who also did the stuff for Ghostbusters the previous year)  and great directing from Tom Holland.  Let's take a closer look...
  • I love just how bad the Peter Vincent movie Charley is watching in the beginning looks.
  • Maybe it's just because I've seen a ton of Married...With Children episodes but it's harder than hell to not watch Amanda Bearse in this film and not just picture Marcy yelling at Al Bundy.
  • The first act is essentially Rear Window with a few differences.  Voyeurism, something bad going on next door, give William Ragsdale a broken leg and a stutter and he's pretty much Jimmy Stewart.
  • Stephen Geoffreys is both annoying and amusing in his role.  Ed is a true weirdo outcast and it;s no shock he ends up being controlled by Jerry.
  • Chris Sarandon and Johnathan Stark are great as Jerry and his buddy Billy Cole respectively (a bit of subtext revolving around that guy to be sure).  Sarandon has always been good and he makes Jerry both charming and creepy.
  • Jerry's first scene threatening Charley is a real showstopper as we get a good idea of just how strong and ugly this particular vampire can be.
  • Roddy is great as Peter, snide and sarcastic, realistically scared (as anyone with half a brain would if they learned vampires were real) but also brave when he needs to be.  It's a wonderfully hammy bit of work that fits perfectly with the rest of the film.
  • Another good Jerry scene is the nightclub scene...because nothing impresses quite like ripping one bouncer's face open and choking the life out of another one.  Making off with the hero's girl is just icing on the cake.
  • While the first seventy minutes of the film are very good, it's the last half hour that really makes this film a classic.  A dissolving ghoul, a werewolf, Jerry taunting our heroes and turning into a bat.  It's just nearly thirty solid minutes of spectacular horror and special effects.  Great stuff all around.
  • Also, gotta love Amy's vampire makeup at the end.  Very scary.
  • The song by The J. Geils Band at the end is a great, kind of cheesy way to end the movie.
Fright Night is, as I said earlier, just plain fun.  Good acting, great f/x, it's a real winner.  Heck, even the sequel is worth checking out...though I'd avoid the recent remake.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.