Fright Night (1985)

Director: Tom Holland (1985)
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Amanda Bearse
Find it: IMDB

Up there with Ghostbusters as my favourite 1980s' classic, Fright Night is a movie very dear to my heart. It's one of my favourite vampire movies of all time. I still own it on video cassette somewhere (a double feature tape, accompanied by the also-classic Candyman). I'm scheduled to see the David Tennant remake tomorrow, so decided to revisit this old favourite in anticipation. Having not seen Fright Night in ten years or so, I found myself worried that it might wind up being shit. Is it? Read on to find out.

Long answer: Fright Night is every bit as good as I remember and then some. It's like Rear Window crossed with Dracula. Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) sees a coffin being carried into the house next door and becomes convinced that his new neighbour is a vampire. When he apparently sees a girl murdered and reports it to the police, silly Charley brings himself to vampire Jerry's (Sarandon) attention. Terrified, Charley turns to TV vampire hunter Peter Vincent (McDowall) for help. The Best Movie Since Ghostbusters ensues.

It's a lot tenser and a lot scarier than I remember it being, with Chris Sarandon's Jerry making more of an impact now than he did the first time I watched it. Colin Farrell, you have a lot to live up to (wifebeater vest or no). All I really remembered was a gory finale (still gruesome, but less gory than I remembered) and Roddy McDowall being thoroughly awesome. Roddy McDowall is still thoroughly awesome, especially now that I recognise Peter Vincent as a very clever Peter Cushing impersonation.

The nightclub sequence is a particular highlight, as is Evil Ed's (Stephen Geofferys) initial encounter with Vincent. Oozing sex and menace, Jerry terrifies Vincent and the kids towards an inevitable showdown (and a less good sequel), without so much as a single sparkle along the way.

It's glorious to discover that Fright Night is still a very good film, especially since my adulthood has brought with it a love of everything horror. Fright Night is good not only as a camp 1980s curiosity but also a horror gem. Tennant, Farrell and McLovin beware, this is one bar that has been set very high.


  1. It's also a comedic version of "Salem's Lot".

    Don't watch the remake. Doctor Who is supposed to be okay in it but, as much as I don't really think of the original "Fright Night" as a horror film because it's not serious enough, I'm sure that the new version won't come close.

  2. Excellent review!
    Next to Martin, Carpenter's Vampires and Lost Boys, my fave vampire-flick of all time.

  3. Yes, "Salem's Lot", I completely forgot about that one (another I need to revisit). Didn't get to see the remake after all, but I'll still give it a shot eventually... if only through McLovin and Tennant curiosity.

    @Maynard, cheers!