Horror Recommendation: Fright Night (1985)
Posted: by Findlay
Fright Night (1985); Directed by Tom Holland
In One Sentence: A vampire moves next door and Charlie hires a local, late-night horror film presenter to help him get rid of it.
Why You Should Watch: Okay, picture the scene. Me at 9 years old. It’s a Friday night and I’m staying at my grandads. We’re sitting together in the living room of his upstairs maisonette flat. I’m eating the sweets he gave money to buy with and I’m staying up late because he let me do that because he was the best. “Good film on tonight Shaunny boy. We’re watching it”.
These are most people I knows horror beginnings, sitting with their mums/brothers/grans/grandads, and this was mine. Fright Night at my grandads house.
It’s fair to say I shat it at a lot of bits and had nightmares specifically about one of the vampires but Fright Night did it. It totally made me fall in love with horror. How could something so ~scary~ be so ~addictive and fun~? These are all things Fright Night manages so fucking well and still do, to this day.
The plot revolves around horror-obsessed teen Charlie Brewster who begins to suspect his new next-door neighbour Jerry Dandridge is a vampire. Of course his mother and best friends don’t believe him so he turns to local late-night horror host Peter Vincent (like Peter Cushing meets Elvira) to help him kill the troublesome vampire.
The core characters make this film such a joy. I mean, all three totally live in the pantheon of great horror film characters. Whether it be Charlie’s determination and frustration at not being taken seriously, Peter’s reluctance and later belief or Jerry’s totally doucher, but loveably evil vampire (He eats apples for fucks sake!) you totally love the characters and love how their different chemistries come together. Special mention to Charlie’s friend Evil Ed, who is the freakiest wee dude in the world of movies. You’ll see.
The film is also so happy to embrace the campiest elements of vampire films and lore and use them to its advantage to craft a really fun and unique story. Garlic? Stakes? Coffins? Bats? It’s all here. Even in the background of a lot of the scenes there are old vampire films playing in Charlie’s room. Little nods to its elders, whilst giving the audience an eerie feeling of familiarity. Crackin!
The gore also seems to be a bit underrated in Fright Night. It’s not primarily a “gore” film but the effects in it are pretty great. There’s the fair share of blood and neck wounds and some melting, but it’s the vampire make-up that does it for me. So fucking gnarly and terrifying, but they also look agonizingly sore. Like its hurting the vampire being the undead.
Fright Night has, and will always be, one of my favourite vampire films. The emotional connection is strong, sure everytime I watch it think of my granda Eddie, but the fun, campy ride it takes you is totally timeless and it something I never get tired of.
Try it! If this review doesn’t convince you, maybe a review by me aged 9 will.
“I shat myself. 10/10” – Findlay, aged 9.
Favourite Line: “No vampire’s gonna want him anyway. Probably give him blood poisoning.”