“Fright Night” is an absolute classic of 80s horror that spawned many imitators as well as a remake in 2011. The original film stars William Ragsdale as Charley Brewster, a suburban teenager who becomes suspicious of a new neighbor. This mysterious person is Jerry Dandridge, played by Chris Sarandon, a tall dark and handsome man. Charley and his girlfriend Amy, played by Amanda Bearse, are fooling around one night while watching the TV show “Fright Night” and its’ host Peter Vincent who is played wonderfully by Roddy McDowell. Vincent is an Elvira type character who was known for playing a vampire hunter in old horror movies and now plays host to vampire films. When Charley notices movers in the middle of the night carrying a coffin into the house next door he becomes more interested in that than possibly having sex with Amy.
“Fright Night” has that perfect balance of humor and horror. Charley is an extremely likable and relatable teenager and has an obnoxious but funny best friend nicknamed Evil Ed. Charley becomes obsessed with watching Jerry’s house and when he gets busted for peeping their little cat and mouse game begins and lasts throughout the movie. Jerry likes his apples for some reason and only comes out a night for more substantial meals (if you know what I mean). He has a male roommate named Billy who acts as a sort of servant who looks after the house in the daytime. The same night Charley is busted, he then sees Billy taking a body bag out of the house and loading into a car. He’s finally seen enough and calls the cops. But who is going to believe a crazy kid, right? And Vampires? Charley is made to look foolish and Jerry starts to seek revenge and starts becoming a terrible menace in his life. Even playing up his charms to his mother. Jerry really is a terrifying character even though his name is Jerry, I mean come on Jerry the Vampire? Charley then looks to Evil Ed for help who gives him a few pointers and a cross. Shortly after though Ed is paid a visit by Jerry and needless to say, Charley needs to find a new best friend.
Charley and Amy then get the idea to recruit Peter Vincent, who better right? Although we find out he is just a washed up actor who doesn’t even believe in vampires. After working on him for a while Peter agrees to at least meet with Jerry to prove to the kids that he is not a vampire at all. All is good until Peter drops a mirror only to find that Jerry doesn’t have a reflection. This is where shit starts to get real. After a few scenes of some seriously intense staring, Amy is glamoured by Jerry and becomes his slave. It is now up to Charley and Vincent to take down Jerry, just like one of Vincent’s old movie roles. The final battles are fun, scary, and a little weird, which is great. The effects are awesome and to plug in a cheesy cliche, it’s quite the wild ride. “Fright Night” captures this magic that can’t quite be described. For me, it’s probably a big dose of sentimentality since it was part of my childhood horror movie experiences, but even if you’re seeing it for the first time it is hard not to like it.