Fright Night (1985)

fright night poster 1985 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals : 9/10

Fun story, fun cast, fun effects

A little dated but still strong

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Fright Night

Studio: Columbia Pictures/Vistar Films/Columbia Pictures Industries

Genre(s):  Horror/Comedy

Release Date(s):  August 2, 1985

MPAA Rating:  R

fright night chris sarandon vampire

Vampires are real…really hungry!

Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) has a new neighbor…unfortunately, Charley has discovered that he’s a vampire.  Now, he must convince his girlfriend Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse) and Edward “Evil Ed” Thompson (Stephen Geoffreys) that he isn’t crazy.  Evil and Amy enlist the aid of aging horror star and local horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to prove to Charley that Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) isn’t a vampire…but when they all learn the truth, Dandridge is out to kill them all.

Written and directed by Tom Holland, Fright Night is a vampire horror comedy.  The film was very well received and was a box office success.  The film gained a cult following and the film was remade in 2011.

fright night evil ed stephen geoffreys vampire

Oh, Brewster….you’re so cool!

I love Fright Night.  It has that perfect pitch of horror and comedy and even with some goofiness, it still can provide jumps.  The movie has a pacing which is a bit slower than today’s horror films, but it just adds to the charm.

The story of Fright Night is part of the reason it still works.  The horror aspect is there but it also adds comedy and a bit of suspense with a Rear Window style first act.  Holland captures an old feel that is a bit reminiscent of Hammer Horror (especially with McDowall’s look and style) and combined it with (at the time) modern horror.  It also takes some jabs at ‘’80s horror by pointing out that everyone wants a psycho slasher instead of classic horror (Jason, Freddy, and Michael were prevalent at the time).

fright night charlie brewster peter vincent william ragsdale roddy mcdowall

They’re kind of like Blade

The cast of the movie is also fun.  Charlie Sheen allegedly pushed hard for the Ragsdale part, but William Ragsdale brings a nice honesty to the character that I don’t know that Sheen would have.  Sarandon is kind of generic, but I like that they went for a kind of flamboyant and asexual vampire.  Roddy McDowall is a scene stealer as the aging horror host of Fright Night (every town had a Peter Vincent…ours was Sammy Terry).  Amanda Bearse is kind of a strange choice, but it is fun to see her in the pre-Married with Children days.  Stephen Geoffreys is a love/hate character (I love him), and yes, the rumors are true that he went on to a career in gay porn (under the name Sam Ritter).

fright night amy vampire charley william ragsdale amanda bearse

We’re finally going to hook up!

For the time it was made, Fright Night was top of the line.  Things like Evil’s werewolf transformation were quite cool and even things like the “bat-cam” and were ahead of its time.  Now, unfortunately, they do look a bit dated (especially things like the vampire bat model and the Amy “vampire face”…it is too bad, but it happens to most movies.

Fright Night is still fun, but I bet younger audiences won’t like it as much.  The movie came from a period where it was different and vampire films were rather few and far between.  The Lost Boys gets a lot of credit for modernizing the vampire, but Fright Night gives a bit of a precursor to that interpretation…plus, it has a cool poster.  The movie was followed by a sequel Fright Night Part II in 1988.

Related Links:

Fright Night Part II (1988)

Fright Night (2011)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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