FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #45
Fright Night (1985)
Director(s): Tom Holland
Writer(s): Tom Holland
Starring: William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Amanda Bearse
You know what I miss most about being a kid? No, not the endless metabolism that lets you eat three large pizzas and still have room for wings. Not the bottomless pit of energy that lets you wake up at dawn and sigh with boredom 14 hours later. Not even the flutter of butterflies in your stomach when puppy love decides to throw you a curveball by having your crush sit next to you on the bus. The thing I miss most about the tender ages of about 4 – 12 is the pure, unadulterated, genuine joy of the most simplistic activities.
Friday night was a ritual that consisted of something salty, fried and unhealthy (preferably flaming hot Cheetos) and a horror movie from my favorite local video store; all for the measly price under three bucks. The three seat couch was usually free and positioned right in front of the TV and parallel to a window that always had a nice breeze ready. Sometimes family would join in and sometimes it was a solo viewing but that wasn’t the point; everything that had happened that week, good or bad, just disappeared. I had entered a pod of tranquility, a getaway for about two hours that was all about my simple pleasures in life and I appreciated every second of that peace. The best kinds of horror flicks for a Friday night viewing was a special breed; although any horror movie would be entertaining enough for the event, the best nights had horror flicks that had a mix of good scares, some humor and had a feel for adventure that took characters on some sort of journey where they get to save the girl or change the world. A great flick that embodied these care free nights is the fun popcorn flick, Fright Night.
First, for the META bit of fun; the movie centers around Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) who enjoys his weekends by watching his favorite TV show, Fright Night. Already, the fact that this character was instantly relatable made me realize I was in for a Rockin’ time. Charley begins to suspect that his new eccentric (and fashionably sexy for the time) neighbor may be that of the bloody fang variety (or vampires). With his best friend, Evil Ed (Geoffreys) and girlfriend (Bearse) at his side, they begin to uncover the truth about the mysterious neighbor with an appetite for the living. Suspense and fun shenanigans commence!
The trio find themselves enlisting the help of the host of Fright Night, Peter Vincent who is played brilliantly by late, great Roddy McDowall. The best humorous bits of this flick centered around the irony that the host of a horror show was the most skeptical and fearful of all the characters. The chemistry between the team of misfits to stop the vampire is what makes this movie enjoyable but it also doesn’t skimp out on the fantastic visual effects and never loses the horror element as funny as this flick could be at times. There were many instances of suspense as the investigation got deeper and heroes begin to emerge as the story progressed and some of the team fell victim (hint: NOT Price). Also, let us not forget that this movie is just filled with intense amount of 80’s charm and although I was a kid that didn’t understand the genius of 80’s nostalgia, I still understood that the people dressed, talked and danced different than the folks at the present time.
Although a sequel and a remake (both SURPRISINGLY decent) were eventually made, the original had a great mix of Hitchcock suspense, practical monster effects and dialog worthy of a John Hughes flick that made you want to laugh out loud but yell at the television at the same time when rooting for the characters. There’s always something good to be said about any movie where friends come together for a common cause and even make new friends along the way…even if it’s to hunt down a sexy man vampire (wait a tick, that’s the second time I referred to the villain as a sexy man, DAMMIT make that three)! It’s that sort of journey that makes Fright Night the perfect kind of movie for my private pod of horror goodness; my getaway from a childhood that was filled with learning as much as I could and getting by with the everyday challenges of having friends, making grades and living with family.
I would say that it was in these sessions that the FearTastic Vault begin to take shape; each fun night laid down another brick in the catacombs that would store all my favorite horror flicks. Every time I felt entertained in my isolation from the hectic world, the blueprints for another wing of the vault was drafted. Now, the FearTastic Vault is a strong wonderland that stores my flicks that I can view and enjoy at my disposal, so feel free to join me every month as we look back at another FearTastic flick…oh and my viewing chair is both comfortable and made of dragon fire.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.