Growing up in the 90s, I think my generation was the last to really know and appreciate what a horror television show host could be. Sure, Svengoolie is doing a terrific job these days, but I think most kids are more apt to look through Netflix. When I was a kid, I would sneak into the living room when my parents were asleep so I could watch horror movies on late night TV. One of my earliest memories was a movie with an old horror host fighting vampires. Later on, I would find out that this movie was Fright Night.
Back in 1985, writer/director Tom Holland wanted to do a very different take on the “boy who cried wolf” story. Instead of the boy lying, he would be a horror nerd so people would question his judgement when he starts saying there’s a vampire living next to him. Instead of the traditional take on vampires, he made his antagonist a real monster. Chris Sarandon does a fantastic job as the vampire, Jerry. His performance was subtle when it had to be, but sinister when the time came for it. William Ragsdale is the main protagonist Charley Brewster. Whenever I watch this movie, I feel like I’m in his shoes, and that is a testament to Ragsdale’s performance. My favorite character in the movie is Peter Vincent, played by the late Roddy Mcdowell. I don’t think this movie would work without him. The old horror movie actor being enlisted to fight a real vampire adds so much more to the film. Now you have a character who has all the knowledge of how to kill a vampire but refuses to believe that they are real, making him a much more relatable. Tom Holland’s direction provides the film with a rich, gloomy atmosphere, sucking you into this world. He knows how to properly balance comedy and horror. This movie is a horror classic, which makes me wonder why a lot of people still haven’t seen it.
Fright Night is available on a bare bones DVD and only got a long out of print and limited Blu-Ray release here in the states. I hope either Scream Factory or Arrow Video will rectify this some day. However, there is a feature length documentary about the making of Fright Night entitled You’re So Cool Brewster, currently available to stream on Shudder. Maybe one day we can get an official Blu-Ray release of Fright Night Part 2 as well.
That might just be wishful thinking though.