Saturday, September 25, 2010

Catching Up On The Classics: Fright Night (1985)

Yea! ME LOVED FRIGHT NIGHT. Don't know what took me so long to see it, but thank you Netflix, again. You have come through for me at the right time with the just the movie I wanted to see. I'm ashamed that I've missed out on so much because I hadn't seen Fright Night!

I'm sure you know the plot but here it is anyway: Teenager Charley Brewster discovers that a vampire, Jerry Dandridge (and his Reinfeld, Billy Sole), has moved in next door. No one believes him, of course, and when Dandridge realizes he's been found out he goes after Charley. Meanwhile, Charley and his disbelieving friend and girlfriend, Evil Ed and Amy, enlist the help of a man named Peter Vincent who hosts a horror TV show and claims himself to be the "Great Vampire Killer." Charley hopes Vincent will help him kill the vampire; the others hope he can convince him that Dandridge is not a vampire. Wackiness ensues.

I am certainly no prude toward the horror-comedy subgenre, but it is hard for me to come across one that I truly enjoy - where both the horror elements and comedy elements are equally well-produced. Simply put, Fright Night is a joy from start to finish. The characters, the acting, the comedy, and yes, even the horror side dealing with vampire lore is pulled off so well in this film. It was being faithful to the legend while still poking fun at it - especially that part where Peter Vincent says something like, "Well so far everything has been just like in the movies; we can only hope that it continues that way." Some of the scenes aren't really laugh-out-loud funny, but I found myself chuckling through pretty much the whole film. Subtle jokes that were sometimes too quick for me. Now that's the kind of humor I admire.

The humor also comes about from including all the classic vampire cliches: the coffin, holy water, crosses, sunlight, stake in the heart, and the creepy old house. Which brings me to my favorite comedy moment in the film. When Charley brings Peter Vincent to Prince Humperdinck's... um, I mean, Jerry Dandridge's house and Vincent says, "Where is the lair of the vampire?" "There." "Oh, I see what you mean." Hilariously, Dandridge's house is the one house on the block that is old and rotting from the outside, and best of all, always seems to be immersed in a perpetual fog - even when there is no fog anywhere else.

The man.
Chris Sarandon is A-mazing as the vampire. He's not ugly, but he's not exactly hot either, but he does have charm - and that's where the vampires always win out. They're always so GD charming. It's that vampire-romancey thing again. But back to Chris. He's funny, suave, and good at playing an asshole. This dude was fucking all over the place in the 80s; first in this, then in The Princess Bride, then later of course, as one of the first people to do battle with the ultimate killer doll Chucky in Child's Play. I've seen him in a lot of TV since then (was I the only one who watched "Judging Amy"?) and he's still a great actor, so good for him.

The effects are really not all that bad for the time, BUT. I'm not sure I like how a lot of vampire films turn vampires into these weird, slimy, demonic creatures just out of fucking nowhere. When Chris Sarandon first changes face in Charley's bedroom, he's this weird yellow-eyed, big jaw/mouthed hideous looking thing. Call me a purist, but I prefer my vampires to mostly resemble their human sides. There is no reason that they should be demon-looking in any way; all's they need is those fangs for the blood suckin'. So I guess I like my vampires to be like Buffy vampires. Looking like a human most of the time but able to morph into a vamp and when they're killed they turn to dust, as they should, seeing as how their bodies are dead and would be dust anyway especially if they are a couple hundred years old.

Definitely vomit-inducing.
But whatever. Rant over. That's not to say anything bad about Fright Night; I still freaking loved it. The other effects are convincingly done. I feel weird saying this, but I actually love scenes where people melt. Probably because said scenes usually make me vomit a little in my mouth, which to me means that the scene is realistic enough to make me imagine that actually happening which would totally make me vomit all over the place. Kinda like the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark that used to scare the ever-loving shit out of me as a child. Anyway, great gore and makeup for this part and also on the various vampires. They all had a similar look to them, but each one was just a little different from the others, which was inventive and more interesting to watch for.

A thing that sort of bothered me but was also kind of funny at the same time was Evil Ed's extremely long "death" scene (since at the end of the movie it sounds like he didn't die?). I'll say the effects were also good in this scene, as Ed slowly (very slowly) transforms from a wolf back into a human with the table leg through his chest, but seriously, this part just goes on way too long. I was waiting for something different or surprising to happen but, nope. Kind of a sad scene, too, because Evil was funny.

I am Peter Vincent, Vampire Killer!
I thought the "Married... with Children" chick playing Amy was also rather funny in the earlier scenes where she thinks she keeps getting dissed by Charley. Just watch her in the background - she's always acting and completely into the character. And of course Roddy McDowall is the best as Peter Vincent, although the costuming they put him in did a lot of the work for him! Excellent wit, this man has. Nothing forced but completely natural.

Fright Night is a total vampire horror-comedy classic that I can't believe I've missed out on all these years. It's 25 years later (the movie came out the year I was born) and guess what? Of course! There's going to be a remake! I've been a remake defender for a while now, but this is a little ridiculous. Mostly because the vampire, Jerry Dandridge, is going to be played by Colin Fucking Farrell. I'm sorry, I just don't see it. Perhaps he can convince me otherwise.

"Where are you going, pencil dick?!"

P.S. If you're going to leave a comment, please entertain me and tell me what the word verification word is. They always make me laugh.


  1. Great write-up :)

    I love Fright Night and definitely its horror/comedy combo- this movie does seem to get it just right!! Haha, and I love the relationship between Charley and Amy!
    I don't yet know how I feel about the remake-casting. I think Colin Farrell has potential (I loved him in In Bruges, and I do find him attractive, so he'd probably be able to seduce me :) I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I doubt it'll reach the level of this film though.

    ...and the word verification is..... sholob.

  2. @Emily - No doubt Colin Farrell is a hotty with a body, but I just don't see him in a comedic role. Has he ever done any comedy? I can't recall.

    Sholob is a good one!

  3. ah, this bring backs kiddie memories. Before I went through an unhealthy obssession for Cenobites, zombies, slashers and japanese monster flicks, back then, way then, I LOVE VAMPIRES! And this is definitely a classic!

    sadly, I don't know about you, but the vampire flick these days are...well...dead for least for me, I don't know about the rest! DX

  4. Loved this one! I thought Chris Sarandon as the vampire was uber hot. You're right--he's very charming. (Edward ain't got nothing on Jerry!)

  5. yay, for Fright Night. IMO the best vampire movie of all time (together with 'Let The Right One In'). Supper-funny, super-scary and incredibly impressive. The sequel is lame and I'm still not sure about that remake in the making.

    and the word verification is... housq :-)

  6. Great review. This was a blast when I saw it in the theater! ;-)