Thanks (or rather no thanks) to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series (books and films), brooding, pale-skinned, sparkly, fangless, vegan vampires are at their most popular, but not that long ago vampires in fiction and film were portrayed as bloodthirsty, humans were prey (with the occasional exception), not as potential romantic partners, so, in the spirit of nostalgia, let's take a cinematic trip back to 1985 and Fright Night, a horror-comedy starring the late, great Roddy McDowell (Dead of Winter, the Planet of the Apes series, The Poseidon Adventure, Cleopatra) in one of his better roles and Chris Sarandon as an old-school, if sadly fashion-challenged, bloodsucker. Made four years before James Cameron mixed CG with live-action in The Abyss, and thus reliant on practical effects for the transformation scenes and the occasional matte shot for extending backgrounds, Fright Night remains cheesy, campy fun, equally entertaining for discerning and non-discerning horror fans.

Borrowing from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, writer-director Tom Holland (Thinner, The Langoliers, Child's Play) centers Fright Night on Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), an average Southern California teenager who, one night while his girlfriend, Amy Peterson (a pre-Married with Children Amanda Bearse), tries to get romantic, sees something strange outside his window. Quickly grabbing his binoculars, Charlie sees his new neighbors, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) and Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), carrying a coffin inside. The same night Charlie sees or thinks he sees Dandridge grow fangs and attack a half-naked woman (it was the less-enlightened 80s, when gratuitous T&A was the norm). Charlie's efforts at hiding his actions prove futile: Dandridge sees Charlie seeing him, setting up Charlie as Dandridge's next victim (or the victim after that).
categories Cinematical