Vampire Movie Week: Fright Night

All Vampire Movie Week reviews and profiles will contain spoilers of the films.

Fright Night (1985)

Written and directed by: Tom Holland
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys

Synopsis: A vampire moves next door to a teenager with an overactive imagination. Hi-jinks ensue. Well, not really hi-jinks, that’s more the plot of The Burbs — but 15 minutes in, I did say “So far, this reminds me of The Burbs” so. Anyway, the kid, Charlie, tries to tell his mom, get the police involved, and enlist the help of Peter Vincent, a local TV personality with a cable show about hunting vampires (if a vampire ever moves in next to me, I’m definitely going to Sarah Michelle Gellar), but all to no avail. Surprise, surprise, no one believes in vampires. But he has a best friend, the unfortunately named Evil Ed, and a girlfriend, Amy, willing to pay the faux vampire hunter to declare the neighbor not-a-vampire. This, of course, results in all four of them being marked for death (Charlie and Vincent) and undeath (Ed and Amy — who, of course!, looks like vampire Jerry’s long lost love) by the vampire.

Review: This was a successful beginning to Vampire Movie Week. It was quite entertaining, though admittedly that was partly due to nostalgia. The soundtrack, like most eighties movies, was recorded on a synthesizer. This was particularly awesome whenever Jerry entered to his very own theme song. I’m sure it was meant to be menacing but 25 years out it is mostly hilarious (but still way awesome). So, while the movie is predictable, the make-up and effects silly by way of gross, and the performances best described as “look, it’s a vampire movie from the eighties, okay?” (as in Chris Sarandon’s vampire almost made me forget he is Prince Humperdink, Roddy McDowall’s Vincent the Vampire Hunter is charming, the kids are fine though Evil Ed grates), we all enjoyed it.

These are the vampires we used to be used to (pre-Twilight). Jerry spends his days avoiding sunlight by sleeping in a coffin, and his nights seducing winsome young women and beheading people. He’s adversely affected by crosses and holy water (as long as you believe it!) and he can only come visiting if he’s invited (but he’s so dreamy, of course he gets invited). The “love” scenes between Jerry and Amy are a bit icky seeing as she’s at most 18 and he’s an ancient undead monster who appears to be mid-thirties but then it’s supposed to be icky.

Fashion: Oh, the eighties. This flick is dripping in eighties fashion — suspenders for everyone! — and in the eighties, they are FAR more palatable than as throwback fashion now. Evil Ed and Amy especially wear “Oh, the eighties” apparel. Amy’s various changes are the most notable. She wears cute little outfits featuring suspenders and hairbows for the first half of the movie, but once she catches the eye of the vampire her clothes are aged up, presumably so the icky love scenes are less icky. And she ends up in a Grecian gown as the vampiric beauty (her hair grows out, too, and the wig is truly awful, but we’ll just chalk that up to silly bordering on gross make-up/effects).

Bottom Line: good fun and I am looking forward to the remake which I would go to based on Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, and my beloved Barty Crouch Jr. David Tennant, but apparently also stars COLIN FARREL as the vampire and that, I think, EVERYONE should see.

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