Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Most Frightening Night


____"Fright Night"(1985)____

Directed by:
Tom Holland

(Jerry Dandrige)Chris Sarandon
(Charley Brewster)William Ragsdale
(Peter Vincent)Roddy McDowall
(Amy Peterson)Amanda Bearse

Tag Lines:
"There are some very good reasons to be afraid...of the dark."
"If you love being scared, it'll be the night of your life."
"There are good reasons to be afraid of the dark."

Like I said many times, the 80's was a great time for horror and B-movies, and this is a perfect example. I mean from the cast, to the concept, to the vampires, Fright Night is the shit. Also with Halloween so close, its a perfect time to look at this little underrated vampire film; especially after that abomination Rockabilly Vampire. But first lets look back, my friends at the term "Fright Night" were exactly did this come from?
Well from what I got, the first use of the term in media was a Three Stooges Short, "Fright Night". If your thinking this is a horror themed short, you would be wrong. The short is about The Three Stooges(Moe, Larry and Shemp) training boxer Chopper Kane, played by Dick Wessel. The short starts out with the usual slap stick humor of the Three Stooges with a lot of punching, silly noises and wise cracks. Well after Chopper and his gal Kitty leave, they are visited by a mobster who threatens them to make Chopper to throw the fight, or they will be whacked. The Stooges, obviously scared by this threat then try to soften Chopper up with foods. That night, before the fight, Chopper is dumped by Kitty. He then gets into a pre-match fight with 'Gorilla' Watson, and Gorilla got his hand broke. The gangsters then go after the stooges leading into a great chase/fight in a box storage. With some jokes by Shemp like "Your crushing my eyebrows!" and his I got a brother this high joke. I really recommend you check out the short, its really good.

Next is Fright Night with the Sinister Seymour. A host my dad know very well, Seymour, or
Larry Vincent was the host of Fright Night on KHJ-TV. He played his character Seymour, who presented and heckled bad science fiction and horror films on his show. He made fun of them in a strange, offbeat way that was really funny. He has a host that would open the show with ". . .the Master of the Macabre, the Eppy-tome of Evil, SEEEEEEEYmooooourrrr!". Larry also had small roles in TV shows like The New Three Stooges, I Dream Of Jeanie, Flying Nun, Get Smart, and Mission: Impossible. The show Fright Night ran from 1970 to 1981. Aside from Seymour, he was also Captain Starr, a children show host along with two others. Larry died of stomach cancer at the age of 50 on March 9, 1975. He was later replaced with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; and the heckling horror host didn't come back till Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Now move ahead a bit to mid 80s, director Tom Holland; this being his first directorial debut. Before this he had wrote screen plays for films such as The Beast Within(1982), Class of 1984(1982), Psycho II(1983), ect. He went on from this to direct the first Child's Play film, and a bunch of other films not really worth mentioning. The film has a great cast of Roddy McDowall who has been in so many god damn films. Some of his work was in Laserblast(1978), The Legend of Hell House(1973), Planet of the Apes(1968), and much more. Roddy McDowall plays the character Peter Vincent, a homage to Larry Vincent, or Seymour of Fright Night, and Peter Cushing; a famous actor who was known as playing Van Hellsing in Hammer's Dracula series. Then we have Chris Sarandon, who was in a lot of great films like Dog Day Afternoon(1975), and The Sentinel (1977). Hes most know for being the voice of Jack Skellington in Nightmare Before Christmas, and Prince Humperdinck from the Princess Bride. Those two being the major hitters in the film, we also have Amanda Bearse, who you probably know best from the great sitcom Married...With Children. This brings up another funny fact, which is Amanda Bearse and actor Stephen Geoffreys(Evil) are both gay.

Well since we got through all that, lets talk about the film itself. The Movie is about Charley Brewster, who one night with his girlfriend Amy, sees movers deliver a coffin into the new neighbors house. He later looks out his window to see his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge biting the neck of a young woman. Charley is a fan of a horror movie program by the name of Fright Night, and hosted by actor Peter Vincent, a schlocky horror movie star who played vampire killers. So because of this he believes that his neighbor is a vampire. So it goes into Rear window, Boy Who Cried wolf, or vampire in this instance; territory as no one believes Charlie, and dismiss it as his imagination. Charlie worried about the situation tries desperately to rid the vampires by calling the police. They also dismiss Charlie, and Dandridge now knows Charlie has found out hes a vampire. This is where they start getting to the rules vampires follow, as told by his friend "Evil" Ed. Those rules are:
1.)Holy Water and Crosses hurt vampires
2.)Sun Kills Vampires
3.)Vampires cant enter a house without being invited

That night Charlie is visited by Dandridge who nearly kills him. Worried as ever he calls upon the help of local horror host Peter Vincent. Peter, who just got fired, decides to play along with charlies cry for help and goes with him to debunk Dandridge to his friends. All the attempts at trying to prove hes a vampire are foiled and things look bad for our hero, that is until Peter sees that Dandridge casts no reflection. Charlie has convinced two out of three, but Evil doesn't want anything to do with this and walks off alone only to get attacked. Peter tries to shake off what just happened at his home, but this is stoped short as Evil, now a vampire comes and attacks Vincent who scares him away with a cross to the forehead. I love the fact Peter is so shaken up and in disbelief through out the whole film. Every time he sees a vampire he looks like he just shit a brick. Meanwhile Charlie and Amy are being stalked by Dandridge who follows them into a night club where he hypnotizes Amy. After beating on Charlie and two bouncers the whole place goes frantic and Dandridge leaves with Amy. The reason behind him being attracted to Amy, from what I put together; she looks like this person in a painting he has. This is probably his lost love, or something along those lines, they never really go into it. Charlie gets Peter and the both of them go to the house to confront Dandridge and save Amy. Unfortunately Amy is currently turning into a vampire thanks to Dandgridge's bite. This leads to some great vampire killings, every kill is original and really gory and cool. My favorite probably being the death of Evil in his transformation state. The effects are god damn amazing and really cool to see, the person behind it, Richard Edlund worked on Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and Ghost Busters. The man also created the portable pig nose amp.

Dandridge, after loosing Ed and his minion, proceeds to hide in his coffin as Amy, a huge mouthed vampire attacks Charlie. Peter proceeds to open the casket and pounds a stake into him. Dandridge then removes it and accidentally breaks a window letting through a shine of light. The stake removal thing has been seen before in the Hammer Dracula series. They break the windows and Dandridge is destroyed by sunlight. The movie ends with Peter getting his show back, now showing bad alien films, rather then vampire(Bit of trivia, the film is Octaman). Charlie then sees a set of red eyes starring at him from Dandridges house. Amy asks him whats wrong, where he answers "Nothing".
The movie is a real modern day classic; bringing a old idea and setting it in modern times. The film gives homages to older vampire films and does it perfectly, so not obvious, but still noticeable. The vampires are great looking, and real bad mother fuckers. They follow all the rules of the vampire and it works really really well. I really enjoy the film, its up there with my favorite horror movies from the 80s and one of my favorite vampire film. I love the idea of the horror host, and McDowell is really awesome as Peter Vincent. Have to mention the best part of the film, Stephen Geoffreys as Evil. When he says "Your sooo cool Brewster! Ahahaha!" that had me laughing so much. It was so good a line they have it twice! The film does fail from some rather boring parts, and the beginning is awfully cheesey, but as the film goes on it gets better. If you like gross gory monster flicks, this is a must have. After this, a sequel was made; Fright Night II, which is really good as well. In some aspects, like monsters its superior; but the deaths arnt as good, and the atmosphere isn't as macabre as Fright Night. The fight in the old house has a great feel to it, and really reminds you of old vampire films. A perfect horror movie for Halloween time.

Best Scenes: Vampire Slayings and Evil

4 out of 5
"Welcome to Fright Night! For real."
"Kill me. Kill me, Charley... before I turn into a vampire, and... GIVE YOU A HICKEY!"

1 comment:

  1. Great Halloween movie, one of my favorite vampire flicks from the 80s, and Im sure its pretty much every horror fans favorite vampire flick from that era, along with Lost Boys and Near Dark.

    Great make up effects, cool story, characters...what can I say? Its a very satasfying vampire flick. Watch it at least once a year, usually around Halloween time.

    Sequel was decent, but not as great. I keep wishing I could see a sequel, or a reboot of this great vampire flick.