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From: "2,500 Movies Challenge" <>
Date: Oct 21, 2015 4:39 PM
Subject: Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge
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Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge

Posted: 20 Oct 2015 09:21 PM PDT

Directed By: Tom Holland

Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse

Tag line: "If you love being scared, it'll be the night of your life"

Trivia: Charlie Sheen auditioned for the role of Charlie Brewster, but the director decided his looks weren't right for the character

Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) believes in vampires. His favorite television program is the Fright Night movie show hosted by Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), a former film star whose most popular role was that of a vampire hunter, and what's more, when he sees some movers hauling a coffin into the basement of the house next door, the sometimes excitable teen becomes convinced that his new neighbor, handsome bachelor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon), is himself a Prince of the Undead. So obsessed is Charley with the notion of living beside a vampire that he even misses his opportunity to have sex (for the first time ever, mind you) with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse), who storms out when Charley refuses to take his binoculars off the Dandridge house.

As it turns out, Charley's suspicions are spot-on. One night, while up late studying, he hears a girl's scream, which seems to have come from next door. Sure enough, the following morning, the news reports tell of the discovery of a murdered girl, who just so happens to resemble the pretty blonde he saw walk into Jerry Dandridge's house the night before. Then, while spying on his neighbor, Charley sees Dandridge's assistant, Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), load what looks like a dead body into the back of a car. Of course, nobody believes Charley when he tells them a vampire has moved into the neighborhood; not his mother (Dorothy Fielding) or Amy, or his strange friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). Even the police laugh at him when he tries to have Dandridge arrested for murder. Feeling he has nowhere else to turn, Charley visits his idol, Peter Vincent, in the hopes he'll know what to do. While the aging actor initially thinks his new young friend has lost his mind, he soon sees for himself that vampires are very real, and that Charley isn't a lunatic after all.

One of the things I love about writer / director Tom Holland's Fright Night is the way it depicts the dual nature of its lead monster. Early in the film, Jerry Dandridge is portrayed as a suave ladies' man, much like Bela Lugosi in 1931's Dracula; one night, while looking out his window, Charley spots Dandridge with a beautiful woman who has obviously succumbed to his charms, and later in the movie, the urbane bloodsucker even manages to seduce Amy on a crowded dance floor. But if you piss this vampire off, you get something else entirely, as Charley learns when Dandridge, hoping to scare the teen enough to stop him from snooping around, pays a nighttime visit to Charley's bedroom. When Charley instead fights back, an enraged Dandridge transforms into a hideous monster right before our eyes, a creature uglier even than Murnau's Nosferatu. Sarandon handles both of the character's extremes wonderfully, and is just as convincing as a debonair predator as he is a feral creature of the night.

Equally as good is Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent, the former star who has fallen on hard times (moments before Charley paid him a visit at the TV station, Vincent was informed his show had been cancelled). But as bad as things may seem at the start, it's nothing compared to the terror that awaits Vincent once he agrees to "help" Charley. Watching him evolve from a passive onlooker to a frightened participant is an absolute treat, and in the hands of a seasoned pro like McDowall, Peter Vincent quickly becomes the movie's most sympathetic character.

When it comes to memorable sidekicks, however, it's hard to top Stephen Geoffreys' Evil Ed, who, with his bizarre mannerisms and near-insane cackle, generates many of the film's laughs on his own (while most definitely a comedy, Fright Night is not a satire. The guffaws come courtesy of the situations these characters find themselves in). Yet as goofy as Ed can be, he also experiences an intense change of his own during the course of the film, and his final scene is undoubtedly the most poignant moment in the entire movie.

With characters you can really get behind, some awesome (practical) special effects, and a truly terrifying monster, 1985's Fright Night is more than a great '80s vampire flick; it's a horror classic, and if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and watch it immediately.

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