director Tom Holland
Though I think I somewhat confused aspects of it with 1986’s House, another horror/comedy film from the mid-1980’s, I always recalled liking 1985’s Fright Night. With the release of a re-make of the film, it seemed an apt time to re-visit director Tom Holland’s film about the vampire that moves in next door.
It starts out with a make-out session between protagonist Charley (William Ragsdale) and Amy (Amanda Bearce, later of Married, with Children notability) while on the television, a local horror movie compendium is hosted by former film star Peter Vincent, known as the “vampire slayer” (played by the inimitable Roddy McDowall). Charley becomes distracted when he sees that they seem to be moving a coffin into the house next door. And the next thing you know, a series of murders, disappearing women, and other shenanigans have Charley convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire.
He’s right, of course. It’s Chris Sarandon as a smarmy very 1980’s oozy vampire. And now it’s up to Charley to convince his mom, the police, his girlfriend, Peter Vincent, and his oddball friend “Evil” Ed (played by a very good Stephen Geoffreys) what is really afoot.
The tone of the film is combination light comedy mixed with some eventually pretty great horror effects, a throwback of sorts to a classic type of teen horror film updated for the 1980’s. And Holland really pulls it off. In part, it’s good casting. McDowall is quite memorable as the washed up horror star, turned semi-cowardly reluctant hero, and Geoffreys plays the nerdyish weirdo with a unique flair.
The film also boasts a pretty good 1980’s pop music soundtrack featuring Sparks, Devo, and The J. Geils Band , especially over the prolonged dance club sequence. And as I noted before, the various analog creature effects are really good, too.
It’s really quite a good 1980’s genre film.