Friday 10 June 2011

Review : Fright Night ( 1985 )

This is my vampire movie. There are other vampire movies like it, but this one is mine...

I believe FRIGHT NIGHT to be the finest example of a vampire movie we have to date. In my mind its never been surpassed, and the way things are going, it never damn well will be. How did I come to regard this humble reworking of REAR WINDOW with fangs, as the zenith of the vampire sub-genre? Well, let me explain. There are a number of factors that led me to this illuminated state. And for easy access, I'll list them for you all....

1/ Jerry Dandrige: A vampire to rival the great Count Dracula himself. And perhaps even overthrow him. Jerry is the epitome of what vampirism is all about. He's cold blooded, ruthless, and oozes liquid confidence. This is a vampire in the classic mold of old, yet now he's stalking suburbia. More than anything, Jerry is a sexual predator. Seducing first Evil Ed, through fear and subtle prods at his sexuality, and then Charlies broad, through good old fashioned animal magnetism, and hypnosis.... Maybe. I think she'd have fucked him anyway, frankly. Crucially; he's damn scary. When he threatens you, you'd best be paying attention, because Jerry doesn't take prisoners, (except the schoolgirl he's planning to bone, which is just how Jerry rolls).

2/ Peter Vincent: Obvious nod to horror giants Vincent Price and Peter Cushing aside. Peter is the archetypal Van Helsing figure. Yet with an entirely original twist. Here he's a hero to fictional horror fans worldwide but is in fact, a sham. He's a scared, broken, lonely man with little to live for, who finds inside him the inner strength to become the persona others have always identified him with. He conquers his fears and rises to the challenge of becoming, "PETER VINCENT! THE GREAT VAMPIRE KILLER!". Peter is the heart and soul of the story. That he's become so beloved a character in the hearts of real horror fans across the globe is testament to Roddy McDowell's wonderful performance. And is surely a fine example of life imitating art. Also, he's a very funny character too. Check out the scene where he finally faces his fears and meets Charlie outside the mansion, only to immediately start shitting himself all over again. Human, real and brilliant.


4/ The Dandrige House: What a setting for a tale of terror! The house Jerry occupies has it all. Its a mansion torn straight from the glory days of Hammer Horror, replete with all mod cons. Dusty ornate furniture. A dark, foreboding basement for his coffin. A living fog that entwines itself around the whole property....all here. We've seen it all before in the classics, but in FRIGHT NIGHT, the damn things been dropped right next door to poor Charlies house. Its Gothic horror meets suburbia. And not since Halloween has suburbia ever felt so fucking claustrophobic. It truly feels like Charlies little corner of the world is the world entire, and there is no way out.

5/ The soundtrack is pure 80's brilliance. Something about the synth scores they used back then really gave horror an identity, and its brilliantly demonstrated here. The score adds tension where needed, and eroticism when the time is right. Its instantly recognizable to genre fans.

6/ There are no 100 year old schoolboy, 'Emo's', who live on cabbage or what-the-fuck-ever in FRIGHT NIGHT.

7/ The special effect are fantastic. Its all in camera, from the glory days before anyone, never mind George Romero and pals, would use CG for blood splatter. They're gruesome, convincing and in one particular scene involving Evil Ed, help to convey deep compassion for a monster. Many horror fans, myself included, still pine for the days when prosthetics were the only way. Watching FRIGHT NIGHT is one very good example of why.

Lock up your girlfriends!

So there you have it, an easily accessible list of reasons why FRIGHT NIGHT, for my dollar, is the king of all vampire flicks. No matter how often I see it, (and its a lot), I never lose my love or admiration for it. I wonder if we'll ever see its like again. In writing a love letter to the classic vampire films of distant years, Writer/Director Tom Holland crafted a film beloved by millions. A film that has earned its place in the pantheon of vampire greats. And for a few out there such as myself, he's taken the throne.

Check it out.

10 Cool Brewster's out of 10


  1. It's would be hard to surpass Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge. Just read the comments on any you tube video about the Jerry/Amy seduction scene(at the club and the house after). Its electric!

  2. One only has to read viewer comments on any YouTube video featuring the Jerry/Amy seduction scene at the club and after, at the house. Its smoldering and Brad Fidel's "Come to Me" is so haunting it hurts..