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Fright Night (1985)



I'm usually not entirely enthralled by 80s teen moves and I like 80s teen horror even less. However, this enjoyable vampire romp proves to be the exception. Sure, it's not without its flaws, but it's hard to get into this movie and not have a little fun.

Charlie (William Ragsdale) is a horror film fanatic who witnesses a coffin being moved into the abandoned house next door. Turns out he has a new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon). Dandridge has a big secret: he's a vampire. Charlie finds out, but nobody will believe him, not his girlfriend, and not his giggling pest buddy. Desperately, he turns to local horror host and former movie vampire killer Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who doesn't take him seriously either, until he catches a glimpse of Dandridge in the mirror (or rather, he catches a non-glimpse). Soon, the stage is set for a showdown between the evil vampire who holds all the cards, and the two reluctant hunters, Charlie and Peter.

While the script has numerous flaws and some shaky logic, it makes up for it with a good amount of wit. For example, Dandridge whistles "Strangers in the Night" as he stalks about a house. He drinks Bloody Marys. The vampire killer's name is Peter Vincent. Get it? Peter... Vincent. In a scene reminiscent of the 1931 Dracula, Vincent sees the bloodsucker doesn't cast a reflection in his pocket mirror, but this time the reflecting glass is broken by the actor's own fright rather than an angry vampire.

The performances are all fine. Sarandon and McDowall each stand out, in particular. Sarandon gives sort of a smug evil to Dandridge, though he's hampered by a lot of makeup toward the end. McDowall plays the "great vampire killer" perfectly, as he tries to look all-knowing when all he knows is that he's a failure, first as an actor, then as a real hunter of the undead. Only Stephen Geofferys' manic Evil Ed is bothersome, as he giggles and sniggers his way through every scene, attempting to chew the scenery but only breaking a tooth.

Most everything about this movie is pretty good. Not excellent by any means, but not as bad as it could be, either. It's just a neat (yes, neat) little bloodsucker film, nice for a Friday night or scare the heck out of your kid brother (or sister). An excellent rental.