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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fright Night Review

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Fright Night was released in 1985 and is one of the better horror comedies from that decade. Never taking itself too seriously, the story follows Charley Brewster, a horror fan who believes a vampire named Jerry Dandrige has moved in next door.
First he watches a coffin get taken into the house and then watches Jerry through his bedroom window bite the neck of a young woman. The next day Charley hears a news broadcast about a young woman that was found slain. Charley thinks this is the woman he saw with his new neighbor the previous night and starts to really worry. He tells his friend Evil Ed and his girlfriend Amy of his suspicions but they think he is going crazy. It doesnt help that Charley is a fan of a horror host by the name of Peter Vincent, who just happens to be on a show called Fright Night and touts himself as the great vampire killer. Charley thinks that Peter will believe him about Jerry so he and Amy decide to go see him. Peter has just been notified that his show was cancelled and has become very cycnical and tells Charley that he is delusional before speeding off in his car. Amy starts to get worried about Charley's obsession with Jerry being a vampire and goes to visit Peter without Charley. She convinces Peter, through the help of money, to go to Jerry's house with Charley so they could prove once and for all that Jerry is not a vampire. Peter calls Jerry on the phone to get permission with the only stipulation that he not bring real holy water as one of the vampire tests. Jerry explains this by saying he is not religous. Jerry passes all the tests but as they are leaving, Peter drops his mirror and picks it up, realizing that Jerry does not cast a reflection. Amy comes to believe that Jerry is a vampire, but Evil is not convinced, and wants to hear nothing about it. As he leaves, Evil takes an alley, only to encounter Jerry. He becomes scared, and tries to run, but Jerry keeps up. He corners Evil, giving him a choice to either die or join his side. Evil takes Jerry's hand and Jerry bites him, changing him into a vampire. Back at his house, Vincent is scared and tries to shake off his feeling of dread. Just then Evil knocks on his door. Peter opens it, and begins talking to Evil casually, as he knows nothing of the hideous, undead creature Evil is now. Suddenly, Evil attacks Peter, who narrowly escapes by using a cross. A scalded Evil slinks away, threatening Peter with telling the Master. Amy and Charley, at the time, happen to be crossing the streets when they see Jerry following them. They run into a night club, but Jerry follows them, where he hypnotizes Amy. Charley attempts physical combat, but Jerry subdues him. He then leaves with Amy to his house. Charley runs back to Peter, who makes him grab a cross before he enters. There, he persuades Peter that they must confront Jerry, igniting Peter's long-slumbering faith and strength. The duo get ready, and go to Jerry's mansion. By then, he had already turned Amy into a vampire.

This is where all the action really starts and I don't want to spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it. The movie is worth seeing all the way through and has become one of my favorites. Chris Sarandon plays a great evil vampire and should be familiar to genre fans as also being the detective from Childs Play and the voice of Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas. The real star of the movie though is Roddy McDowall who played Peter Vincent. He was very convincing as a brave TV personality who turns out to be a coward only to dig deep for the lost hero within. Stephen (Evil Ed) Geoffreys went on to do 976-Evil and Amanda Bearse, who played Amy, went on to be Marcy on Married...With Children. The effects were really good at the time, being done by Richard Edlund, who also provided them for Ghostbusters one year earlier. Fright Night was the second highest grossing horror film of 1985, being beaten by Nightmare On Elm Street 2. The movie was followed by Fright Night 2 in 1988 and was a very good sequel, in fact, some people prefer the sequel to the original.

Some interesting production notes are that actor William (Charley Brewster) Ragsdale accidentally broke his foot during a Christmas Eve shoot. Filming was halted until Ragsdale could make a recovery. The theme song of the film, "You Can't Hide From the Beast Inside" was written and performed by Autograph. This film contains a puppet that was rejected from Ghostbusters (which was also made by Columbia a year earlier.) The same special effects crew recycled the "rejected Ghost Librarian" puppet for this film. This past year it was announced that DreamWorks has a remake of Fright Night in development with a script by Marti Noxon, who did work on Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series. If you want to see this movie again or for the first time, check out ScareFlix, we have it for rent.