A cult favourite amongst horror fans, Fright Night laid a great foundation of vampire inspired films to come. Tom Holland’s directorial debut fits the bill perfectly when it boils down to the 80’s hall of fame, its camp, contains a love story and to my enjoyment relies on practical effects.
When similarities can be made from future vampire films it’s a sign that a great film has been made, original in its ideas influences can be seen in, ‘The Lost Boys’, ‘Near Dark’ and even as recent as Robert Rodriguez’s ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, in particular the finale of FDTD whereby holes are being made in the walls to protect them from the ever nearing vampires.
The plot sees Charley, a devout horror fan finding his neighbour Jerry (Chris Sarandon) acting peculiarly, he becomes obsessed with his every move and when Jerry is seen carrying a coffin in to the basement of his house Charley believes he is a vampire. His mother, girlfriend and best friend Evil Ed, aren’t as convinced when Charley tries to warn them of ‘the vampire next door’. Desperate times call for desperate measures, Charley tracks down Vincent (Roddy McDowall) an actor who portrays a vampire slayer on a TV show called ‘Fright Night’. Vintage ‘Blade’ simply doesn’t want to get involved knowing that he is indeed just a fraud.
As the plot progresses Vincent finally gathers the courage to aid Charley, Jerry is able to seduce Charley’s girlfriend Amy in a mesmerising club scene where she falls to his hypnotism, it’s up to the duo to enter the vampire’s house to put an end to the bloodshed and save the girl.
The first half of the film is a bit of a slow burner, a time where the average horror fans attention may dwindle, Fright Night is well worth staying for as the latter half of the film is fantastic. Think of it as a maturing wine, it’s a bit of a wait but the end result is flawless!
As mentioned above Fright Night lays its practical effects on show and they are sublime, Richard Edlund was the head of visual effects and recently coming from his work on Ghostbusters was more than ready to get to work. Some of the trivia surrounding the production clearly outlines the struggle of working with practical effects. One example is the effort made to get the vampires eyes looking the desired way, thick uncomfortable contact lenses had to be worn which threw a huge obstruction in filming, actors only being able to wear them for 20 minutes at a time before becoming practically blind!! There are too many moments to outline but Evil Ed’s transformation is nothing short of incredible, with very few cut-a-ways it’s a stand out moment.
Chris Sarandon plays Jerry to a tee and at times carries the entire film, he is both convincing as evil yet clearly calculated and clever. He practically captures what you would consider to be a ‘cool’ vampire throughout the film....his seduction of Amy in the club is somehow fully believable!
Overall Fright Night is worthy of everyone’s collection whether fans of the vampire sub-genre or not, I would struggle to think of many films which would perfectly suit a ‘film and pizza night’ exactly like this. I’m a sucker for artwork and Fright Night’s has been forever eye catching, a first-rate release from Eureka which sees Fright Night having its deserved 4k digital restoration.