Fright Night (1985)

Every time I see a movie that I think is the most 1980’s movie ever committed to film, another one comes along and blows that one out of the water. This is the case with the original 1985 Fright Night. Fright Night exists in a universe where it’s ok for a girl to wear two different colored butterfly clips that hold barely any hair. Before now, I’d never actually sat down and saw the entire movie. I’d only ever caught parts of it on TBS and USA. Now I’m just so grateful that this movie exists in all its glorious eighties cheesiness.
William Ragsdale stars as Charley, a teenager living with his single mom. He’s a devoted horror fan who becomes suspicious one night when he sees a coffin being moved into the empty house next door.

Charley (William Ragsdale), Amy (Amanda Bearse), and Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys)

Charley (William Ragsdale), Amy (Amanda Bearse), and Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys)

Charley is convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire after seeing a woman go into the neighbor’s house who later turns up dead. Charley tells his mom and his friends, he even tries to get the police involved, but they all dismiss him. Charley’s ex, Amy (Amanda Bearse) and best friend, Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffries), finally enlist horror host and washed-up movie star Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to convince Charley that his neighbor isn’t a vampire.
Peter Vincent realizes that the neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) really is a vampire.
Not only does Jerry now have access to Charley’s house since Charley’s mom invited him in, but he has his sights set on Amy, who resembles a lost love (Don’t they always?)
First, Jerry turns Evil Ed into a vampire.
Then, he stalks Charley and Amy in a nightclub. Jerry seduces Amy and they touch butts. A lot.
It’s up to Charley and Peter to rescue Amy, using all the knowledge that they’ve accumulated from watching and starring in horror movies.
This movie is 28-years-old so the effects are a mixed bag. I liked the vampire effects on Jerry and Amy.
Evil Ed turning into a wolf was also pretty cool. Some are less good, like when Jerry turns into a bat and it looks like he turns into a giant claymation flying dog.
What I like about this movie is that it’s kind of like Scream before Scream existed. The characters get their information from horror movies and their are lots of little nods to past horror canon. The mysterious stranger moving into town with his toadie reminds me of the novel of Dracula. Actually, in this movie, it feels like ‘Salem’s Lot with Barlow and Straker, especially when Jerry tells Peter that his crucifix won’t work unless he has faith. I especially liked the name “Peter Vincent,” a shout-out to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Chris Sarandon’s performance is particularly good. He makes a character that doesn’t have a lot of lines or back-story interesting.
Okay, since I’ve gotten the good parts out of the way here’s the bad info. There are plot-holes you could drive a truck through. If Charley is such a big horror fan, then why does Evil Ed have to explain how to protect yourself against vampires? The movie doesn’t say how old Jerry is but shouldn’t an experienced vampire now how to move from town to town without leaving the longest trail of corpses? Some parts of the movie also felt heavy-handed, like Jerry’s wall of cuckoo clocks. And what was Billy Cole (Jonathon Stark) supposed to be? He could go out in the sun but crumbled to dust when staked in the heart. He also had Hi-C Ecto-Cooler blood.
The ending of the movie leaves it wide open for a sequel. Fright Night 2 actually exists but it doesn’t follow Evil Ed as a vampire, since Stephen Geoffries was working on 976-Evil at the time. What I ended up taking away from this movie is that if I have vampire problems, I should call Anthony Stewart Head.


About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1980's, vampires and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Fright Night (1985)

  1. Amiee says:

    I loved this movie, my parents introduced me to it, during my high school education years of 80s horror classics as I like to remember it. I was actually horrified of Amy as a vampire, and I remember Ed turning into a wolf as really good for the time.

    • scarina says:

      Cool parents! Although my mom was huge Romero fan so I saw the original Night of the Living Dead trilogy fairly young.
      I think it’s the huge mouth full of teeth that makes Amy so unsettling. Evil Ed changing still looks good. I like that they used some kind of real wolf/dog instead of making him into some weird hybrid like in the third Harry Potter movie.

  2. Crypticpsych says:

    Oh I do so dearly love Fright Night….I’ve been meaning to see the remake actually since I’ve heard passable things about it (once you get past its use of CGI which is ironic considering how effective many of the practical effects in the original are). I’ll get around to it at some point.
    One of my favorite parts of the movie is how some of the seductions are just so over-the-top cheesy and overdone that they’re kind of laughable…particularly Jerry’s seduction of Amy.
    Oh, and if I may….I personally hated the movie when I first saw it…but if you’d like to know what my pick as the most concentrated-80s movie ever made was, dig up a copy of TerrorVision and be amazed…

    • scarina says:

      I’ve heard that the new one isn’t awful and I think that Tom Holland wrote it.
      Hence, the butt gif. What made me laugh even harder is how awful Amy is in the movie. Her character is just a total pill so it’s hilarious seeing a vampire pine for her.
      I will have to find TerrorVision.

  3. Thomas Duke says:

    I’m glad to see someone else is doing butt GIFs. I’ve done a few myself.

    Love the movie, of course, and I think the sequel is pretty decent.

    • scarina says:

      If you’re going to touch someone’s butt like that in a movie then you have to expect to see it giffed.
      I haven’t seen the sequel, I’m just sad that Evil Ed isn’t in it. Although I do have a ridiculous love for 976-Evil.

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