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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Review: Fright Night

Director: Tom Holland
Screenplay: Tom Holland
Year: 1985

"Fright Night" is one of my favorite movies and one I have seen countless times. Is hard to make an objective review of a movie I like so much, but I'll try my best. Although it might seem like I'm biased, it is not much what I can think about this movie that I don't like.

For this review of "Fright Night" I saw the Blu-Ray version and the first thing that popped out is how well this movie has aged. While in some parts it shows its age through grainy images and obsolete special effects, in general, the movie looks really good. The high definition Blu-Ray format helps a lot and makes it hard to believe that at the moment this review was written the movie has about 35 years since being released.

In "Fright Night" some mysterious people move next door to where teenager Charlie Brewster lives with his mother. Charlie suspects that their new neighbors are vampires and not much has to happen for us to realize that he is right. The problem for Charlie is that nobody believes in vampires and instead of receiving help, he is mocked. He then decides to seek the help of Peter Vincent, as he is a vampire hunter, but this is just a movie character.

The cast of this movie does an impressive job. Rody McDowall ("Planet of the Apes") as Peter Vincent is without a doubt the one that stands out the most, closely followed by Chris Sarandon ("Child’s Play") as the vampire Jerry Dandridge. Peter Vincent is a clear homage to Peter Cushing y Vincent Price, two acclaimed horror film actors who interpreted vampire hunters and you expect from him the bravery these characters showed. To Charlie's dismay, Peter Vincent is not as brave as his character suggests, although in his particular road to redemption he finds the courage to stand up to Jerry. Instead of looking like Van Helsing fighting Dracula, he is reminiscent of the incompetence of Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter. William Ragsdale ("Left Behind"), Amanda Bearse ("Married… With Children) and Stephen Geoffreys ("At Close Range") as Charlie, Amy, and Evil Ed also do a great job correctly representing their characters.

"Fright Night" works as a kind of homage to classic vampire movies. Although we see Jerry in a modern environment living in the suburbs of some US city, there is something in him that doesn't allow him to quite incorporate into society. The characteristics of classic vampires are also respected, such as not having a reflection in the mirror, be vulnerable against sunlight and religious artifacts, and needing to be invited to get inside a house. In Jerry's character, you can see resemblances with classic vampires, particularly Dracula. We also see how some of the characters are oriented towards horror movie fans, with Charlie being a fan of this genre, Peter Vincent as an homage to horror movie actors being one himself, and Jerry as an homage to classic vampires.

It was interesting to me that when we see Jerry on screen, he is often eating fruits. To explain this, we have to consider that vampires are constantly associated with wolves and bats. In this movie, we see that vampires can transform into these creatures when one of them transforms into a wolf and later has a painful and well-achieved transformation back to human resembling the transformation in "An American Werewolf in London". Later we see that Jessy can turn into a bat and that his appetite for fruits has to be linked to the diet of these animals, which consists mainly of fruits and insects, depending on the species.

Going back to the transformation from wolf to human, this is the scene that better represents how well-crafted are the special effects. The crew involved in this had previously participated in the special effects department for "Ghostbusters 2" and used all their acquired knowledge in "Fright Night". This movie is full of practical and digital effects and they look great. Some of them look a bit dated, but considering the movie's release date, they have aged well. 

"Fright Night" effectively combines comedy and horror and is one of the most beloved vampire movies for horror movie fans. This is a movie that in topic as well as in style was ahead of its time and it shows when 35 years later you can still enjoy it as if it was recently released. I can only criticize some irrational decisions by some characters that are only conveniently used to move the story forward. Besides this, it is an excellent movie for the enjoyment of horror movie fans.

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