10/28/13

FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) - REVIEW


Yes the Fright Night remake was surprisingly decent.

But what of the original?

Released a couple of years before The Lost Boys, it already took a more tongue-in-cheek, nostalgic approach to vampire films and put a geeky character in the middle of a full-blown nightmare. "Fright Night" refers to a TV show within the film in which an ageing actor playing a vampire hunter (a perfect Roddy McDowall) introduces classic horror films Vampira-style. McDowall's Peter Vincent is an obvious homage to iconic actor Peter Cushing, known for playing vampire hunter Van Helsing in countless Hammer films. His character is dragged kicking and screaming into a real life vampire problem and his disbelief at the events unfolding before him is tons of fun throughout. The film sees a vampire amusingly called Jerry (Chris Sarandon) move in next door to some high school kid (William Ragsdale) who soon becomes aware of what his neighbour really is and, of course, becomes his primary target. Which is why he hires the help of a vampire hunter or... the closest thing to a vampire hunter he could find: washed-up trashy horror movie actor Peter Vincent.

Tom Holland's film is not only very funny and entertaining but atmospheric. It may not be the most serious vampire film around but it still works as a legitimate vampire film. The terrific score and moody visuals help create an unsettling vibe, despite the mostly light-hearted tone. You've got some great characters in there including Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), Charley's (Ragsdale) manic friend, and Charley's girlfriend (played by Amanda Bearse) whose hypnotic attraction to vampire Jerry is one problem our hero could have most certainly done without. Sarandon's villain is the most dated part of this movie as he's not so much threatening as he is overly suave, wearing ugly roll-neck sweaters and smiling wryly any chance he gets. If the remake did something right it was making Colin Farrell's Jerry genuinely dangerous and psychotic. You've got many horror movie in-jokes in Fright Night making the film one for fans of the genre: a loving homage to old vampire movies and a fresh, amusing take on the whole concept.

If you haven't seen Fright Night, I recommend you checking it out. It's one of the better and most fun vampire films of the 80's and more than deserves its cult status. Very funny stuff but also clever and well made, with a terrific cast including a Roddy McDowall on top form.

Watch it.

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