Best Movies of All Time + William Ragsdale



Fright Night is a 1985 horror film directed by Tom Holland that follows teenage Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) in his quest to convince his loved ones that his new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is actually a vampire. When someone finally occupies the empty house next door, Charley, ever the voyeur, starts to notice strange goings-on in the middle of the night. He thinks he sees a coffin being placed in the basement as well as the transport of dead bodies from the house to the new occupant's car. Along with a number of news stories about recent murders, Charley starts to believe that the new man in the neighborhood is actually a member of the undead. When his mother unwittingly invites Jerry over for a drink, Charley realizes that he's no longer safe and waits for the imminent attack which comes later that night. He manages to get away and quickly seeks the help of a TV horror host named Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), a self-proclaimed "vampire killer." With the help of girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and oddball Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), Charley and Peter attempt to take down Jerry before any more harm can come to the neighborhood.

For the first hour of the film, I found myself a little bit bored. I think the best word to describe the film's build-up is "dated." You could tell that Fright Night is an '80s flick because it has that oh-so-unmistakable '80s aura about it. However, once we get to the thick of the action, the movie picks itself up and starts a sprint to the finish line. Once we have our team together and they make their way to disprove the existence of this vampire, Fright Night grabs you by the collar and drags you through the muck and the gore (well, '80s gore) all the way to its mostly predictable finale. Fortunately, the beginning of the film does just enough to keep you watching, so you won't have to miss the splendidly cheesy climax.

We're not really getting any all-star performances in this one, and to be honest, there's a couple actors who would probably nab a Razzie "win" if this film came out today. Ragsdale does just enough for us to care about him as our lead, but if he would've suffered a horrific fate in the end, I probably would've shrugged it off. And to be fair, I could say that about most of the characters. I didn't really care about any of their well-being, but considering the genre and the year in which it was made, I can't really hold that against it. McDowall has a couple of scenes that make Peter Vincent worth watching, and if anyone is holding this movie together from an acting perspective, it's him. So kudos where kudos are due. I wanted to like Chris Sarandon as a charismatic villain, but his role felt forced and too over-the-top, so I really couldn't like him or hate him in the manner that I'm sure the filmmakers wanted.

There are some pretty decent visual effects here and there, but it's nothing to stand up and applaud. The gore is sufficient for a film like this, but it's not like it's realistic (such as in films like the Saw franchise - and yes, you can call that extremely realistic in relation to this one). However, the film is never really all that scary. There's moments where you know they were trying for cheap thrills, but they didn't get me. It goes the gross-out route a couple of times (as mentioned with said gore), but that's about all we're getting.

I'm trying to figure out just how Fright Night has garnered a 93% approval rating on RottenTomatoes, but I guess it's not my place to question such authority (cough). If anything, you might want to give this one a gander considering a remake, starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell, is slotted for an August 19, 2011 release. Perhaps that'll be a little more fitting, but we'll have to wait and see.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: C
1 Thumb Up

1985, Amanda Bearse, Chris Sarandon, Fright Night, horror, movie review, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Tom Holland, and more:

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