Retro Reviews: Fright Night (1985)

This delightful horror film with humorous overtones came as a surprise to me when it came out. The fact that it was a horror/comedy obviously for teenagers, resulted in initial indifference. However, when I actually saw it a little later I was happliy entertained by Fright Night (1985).

Retro Reviews: Fright NIght (1985)

Fright NIght (1985)

In the same class as other enduring teenage films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club, Fright Night has all the elements of a great horror film but with the added touch of humour. It is an enjoyable view anytime, that young, old and mid-life horror-flick-lovers can appreciate. It is the iconic teenage vampire movie of the eighties, replete with vampires who don’t reflect their images in mirrors, and are repelled by crosses and daylight. We are not robbed of these comfortable details of what we so diligently learned from earlier dracula films. The story feels typical and right too.

When the new neighbours move in beside high school student Charlie Brewster played by (William Ragsdale), he notices there is definitely something strange going on in the house next door. But, when a coffin gets moved into the house and few unexplainable things are noticed, Charlie begins to suspect that his neighbour is actually a vampire. Right after this not-so-astute observation, comes the really hard part- trying to get anyone to listen to him. But the head vampire- Jerry- (Chris Sarandon) doesn’t mind flaunting his questionable activities from open view windows, etc. and is quite comfortable in the knowledge that no one really believes in vampires, anyway.

The ‘fright’ stuff starts when the vampires notice that this kid next door is watching and they decide to eradicate the problem. As things get threatening, Charlie begins his mission of recruiting help. Enter Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), the has-been TV host of Creature Features, who has just recently been fired. Luckily, in this case, he has played the vampire role in many of his past B-movies. Now we have the comic McDowall playing the Van Helsing figure who hopefully will save the day! Once Peter Vincent gets into the act, things start moving quickly with the perfect mix of horror and fun comedy. Roddy MacDowall, as expected, is hilarious and plays his part of the knowledgeable but reluctant helper-hero superbly, right up to the action-packed finale.

Retro Reviews: Fright Night (1985)

Roddy McDowall fighting back

Retro Reviews: Fright NIght (1985)

A notable character is Charlie Brewster’s buddy, Evil Ed, played by Stephen Geoffreys. His morbid sense of humour has earned him the name but ends up as foreshadowing because soon he becomes an integral part of the true Fright Night cast. Evil Ed and all the players, including Amanda Bearse as Charlie Brewster’s main squeeze- Amy, do a stellar job along with Tom Holland as director.

An interesting fact is that Holland also directed Ghostbusters in 1984, unleashing similar, spectacular special effects in this later flick.

Fright Night (1985) is a spot-on mix of comedy and fright. It still is one of the best and most enjoyable to watch- classic vampire movies almost to date. The direction, script, tongue-in-cheek attitude, players and special effects has ensured it’s continued popularity and following. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure you do. It’s almost a must for Halloween night. I give this one an 8.5/10.

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  1. Deb Jones
    • Lin Jenkinson
  2. Omer Sheriff Patel

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