What do you get when you mix Rear Window with vampires? How about you make the main character a teenager who loves horror movies and his local horror host? Add in a friend with a terrible nickname and you have Fright Night.
I’m a professed lover of horror comedies and the 80s were a great time for these movies. We had such fun flicks as Gremlins, Waxwork, and The Lost Boys. Perhaps my favorite of them all is Fright Night.
We start with a high school kid, Charley Brewster. Charley lives with his mom and loves to watch “Fright Night”, a horror movie show hosted by Peter Vincent. He has a girlfriend, Amy, and a longtime friend, Evil Ed. Life is going pretty well, except that he is failing trigonometry.
Everything changes one day when somebody moves into the empty house next door. Something seems a little off about his new neighbor and Charley watches him through his window. One night he witnesses his neighbor, Jerry, reveal his fangs and drink a woman’s blood. Charley tries to convince his friends, but nobody believes his claims. Charley even turns to the police to no avail.
Once Charley has created enough trouble and put an undesirable amount of attention on Jerry, he decides to strike back. The angry Jerry starts to come after Charley and his friends. This leads to the inevitable showdown that we all knew the movie was going towards. Charley is able to recruit the help of Peter Vincent to enter in the final battle in Jerry’s home.
Fright Night is a pretty simple flick and doesn’t throw a lot of curves your way within its snappy runtime. But that is part of what works so well with the movie. We have a simple scenario that is played out pretty well. The movie sets the mood well throughout the film and gives you some fun scenes to carry you through the tense moments. The dialog is pretty good between the characters and the setting is familiar. The fact that it happens in an ordinary neighborhood is the perfect way to ground the movie.
The characters are probably the best part of the movie. While I can never look at Charley’s girlfriend, Amy, without seeing Marcy from “Married… with Children”, I still like her character fine. I’m also not the biggest fan of Ragsdale, but he does well enough as the excitable Charley Brewster. Even Geoffries is fun as Evil Ed.
However, my favorite would be Chris Sarandon as our antagonist, Jerry Dandridge. Jerry just exudes creepiness through the movie. But he isn’t awkward as a creep. He is smooth with people with an unsettling edge. He also stalks about the scenes quite eerily at times. Sarandon really killed his role and helped carry this movie. His assistant, played by John Stockwell, was fun as well despite being a thinner character.
As a result of all these pieces coming together, we get a really fun ride. While admittedly it does feel very 80s today, but it still holds up quite well. I think anyone could enjoy this and have some fun.
31 Days of Halloween Trivia:
- The Peter Vincent character was named after horror icons Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. The role was written with Vincent Price in mind, but wasn’t taking horror roles at the time. Roddy McDowall decided that Peter Vincent wasn’t in the same league as Vincent Price so he decided to make him a washed up ham actor.
- While researching for his role, Chris Sarandon noted that a lot of bats are Fruit Bats. He decided that Jerry Dandridge probably had some Fruit Bat in him. This led to him eating fruit throughout the movie.
Picture Quality: 3.5/5
We have here a movie from 1985. And it shows. The image can be soft and the darks can be a bit murky at times. The detail isn’t terrible by any stretch and is a step up from the DVD for sure. The grain is pretty well-managed too. There is just nothing super sharp or vibrant. It works for the type of movie it is, but I would have liked a little better in the dark scenes.
Audio Quality: 2.5/5
We only get a Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this one. I wish we could have gotten a nicer track, but it isn’t bad for what we have. The surround is full and effective enough to work in this movie. Also, dialog was always clear and the score sounded quite nice.
Packaging and Supplements: 0.5/5
This German release includes no extras. Thankfully, it contains half a dozen audio and subtitle tracks. If you want extras, the Twilight Time release is packed with them. Good luck finding it though, thanks to their limited run nonsense. Now Sony has given this release a plain case with no inner artwork, but still with the nice big ratings symbol.
Fright Night is far from the best movie ever. It isn’t even a great, deep film. But it sure has a lot of fun being what it is. The every day man going on a vamp hunt is always a good time. The lack of features really drags it down, as does the merely okay transfer. Honestly, this release is nothing truly special, but it is region free and significantly cheaper than the American releases we have available. Really, you could get this, the documentary, the remake, and maybe even the German release of the sequel for less than the Twilight Time release. Despite the bare-bones nature of this release, Fright Night is really worth seeing. Rent it, catch it on TV, or order a copy of this disc. Any fan of horror comedies owes it to themselves to give this a watch.