As the nation’s pupils head back to school, many of us recognize that Halloween is right around the corner. As we indulge in our favorite horror films this time of year, let’s take a look at the 1985 feature, ‘Fright Night’ as today’s Throwback Thursday, a column where ScienceFiction.com looks at sci-fi from the past.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures, ‘Fright Night’ was written and directed by Tom Holland, who is probably best known for introducing the world to the lovable doll known as Chucky. (Holland went on to direct ‘Child’s Play’ a couple of years after ‘Fright Night’.) Richard Edlund served as the visual effects producer, following his work on a little franchise called ‘Star Wars’.
A sequel was released in 1988 and a remake came out in 2011 starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette. The remake was written by ‘Buffy’ alum Marti Noxon.
William Ragsdale plays a precocious teenager named Charley Brewster who is obsessed with vampires. He spends a lot of time making out with his girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse) and watching the late night movie series ‘Fright Night’ hosted by horror actor Peter Vincent, whose name serves as an ode to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Vincent is played by character actor Roddy McDowall who you may remember personifying a couple of primates in ‘Planet of the Apes’ long before “Andy Serkis” and “performance capture” became everyday cinematic vocabulary.
Charley becomes very suspicious when an eerie man named Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon a.k.a. Prince Humperdinck) moves next door. Charley soon deduces that his red scarf-wearing neighbor is indeed a vampire. Charley contacts the police who obviously provide no help. Amy and Charley’s other friend, Evil Ted (Stephen Geoffreys), think he’s going crazy. The only person Charley can turn to is Peter Vincent who disregards Charley as an obsessed fan.
Ed and Amy eventually pay off the broke Peter Vincent to help prove that Jerry isn’t a vampire. However, Peter Vincent soon witnesses that Jerry is indeed a creature of the night and he’s about to inflict horror on Charley’s world.
With ‘True Blood’ ending and ‘Twilight’ long forgotten, you’re probably thinking that the vampire craze is over. Well, that was certainly the case when ‘Fright Night’ was released. Peter Vincent even states, “I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.”
However, vampires soon made a resurgence and perhaps they will again. When that happens, be sure to check out ‘Fright Night’.