221. Fright Night

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Movie: Fright Night

Release Date: August 2, 1985

Director: Tom Holland

Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, Roddy McDowall.

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.”

Relevance: Since this is the sixth horror movie out of a total of twenty-three on my list of most influential movies of all time, it’s not a shock that I am a fan of the horror genre. From ghosts to aliens to monsters and everything in between, I have always liked everything spooky. I guess I like to be scared. It’s not just movies either, as books and television shows concerning horror are just as interesting to me. So it is no surprise that when ‘Fright Night’ was released in 1985, I wanted to be there.

Unfortunately I was not able to see the movie in theaters. Being only fourteen at the time and it was rated R, I was “restricted” from going. ‘Fright Night’ became a modest box office hit and received pretty decent reviews from critics which only fueled my need to see it. It wasn’t until 1996 when it was released for rental did I finally get to see the chance. And I was not disappointed.

I watched the movie with my dad and both of us absolutely loved it. It was a classic vampire story with a new twist and plenty of scares, gore and humor to go around. It was easy to see why it was so well accepted by critics and audiences. It was also refreshing to me to have a horror movie with pretty decent acting in it. I loved the cast especially Chris Sarandon as the sexy, debonair undead creature Jerry Dandrige. He had to have been the coolest vampire I had ever seen. I simply adored Roddy McDowall as “Fright Night” host Peter Vincent as well as “Evil Ed” himself, Stephen Geoffreys. Both of them were so good in the movie and part of the reason that I watched it numerous times. I hated having to return it to Blockbuster.

When the movie finally made its way to HBO, I made sure to record it on a blank VHS tape (ahhh, remember those good old days) so that I could watch it whenever I wanted to. And watch it I did. There was a point in time when I knew every line of the script and would recite it along with the actors. I wanted so badly to be in a horror movie and was jealous that I was not in this one.

‘Fright Night’ remains one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Not only is it a great film, but it also gave me two quotes that I still use at least once a week to this day. “To what do I owe this dubious pleasure?” and “You’re so cool, Brewster!” Thanks. “Evil Ed.”

Today’s Thoughts: Sadly I lost my VHS tape of ‘Fright Night’ over the years. Not that it would do me any good as I no longer have a VCR, but there is something extra “creepy” about watching a horror movie that way. With nostalgic and old school thoughts dancing in my head, I put on my DVD of ‘Fright Night’ today and watched it once again.

Although I still remember some of the lines, I mostly sat and watched the film beginning to end with very little distraction. I simply wanted to enjoy the film, and that is exactly what I did. The film, despite some out of date special effects, still holds up remarkably well. It is as fun and scary as ever. I still think this is one of the best acted horror films from that decade. Roddy McDowall and Stephen Geoffreys are great in their respective roles. Just watch “Evil Ed’s” death scene. So many feelings from Mr. McDowall. That is a rare treat for this genre. And yes, Chris Sarandon is still a very sexy vamp. That will never change.

Researching this movie I found two very interesting things about this film that I did not know. First of all, there was a sequel? What!? How did I not know this? Apparently it is difficult to find, but that is a challenge I am going to attempt. I must see it. Secondly, Stephen Geoffreys did gay porn in the 1990’s. Another, what!? Yes, “Evil Ed” himself under the name Sam Ritter starred in some gay pornographic films. Finding those, however, was not much of a challenge. I’ve already watched them. And all I have to say is, “You’re so cool, Brewster!”

Beautifully written and directed by Tom Holland, ‘Fright Night’ is a true fright feast for any fan of the genre. Even the remake with Colin Farrell in 2011 is a decent film, although 99% of the time the original is way better. This is definitely one of those times.

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, DVD AVailability.

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