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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield

FRIGHT NIGHT [1985] (REVIEW)

Dir. Tom Holland

Reviewer. Dan Cook

Released during the heyday of the 80’s vampire movie, FRIGHT NIGHT is a thrilling, gruesome and often very funny descent into madness complete with all of the crazy creature effects, illicit sexuality and bloody mayhem one could hope for. The first directorial effort from Tom Holland and starring Jack Skellington himself Chris Sarandon as one of the most charming vampires in cinema history, FRIGHT NIGHT may not quite reach the vicious heights of NEAR DARK or THE LOST BOYS but nonetheless has enough memorably morbid sequences and enjoyably eccentric characters to feast on.


The film follows Charlie (William Ragsdale), a young high student who enlists in the help of Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), an out-of-work horror host when he comes to believe that his new neighbour (Sarandon) is a vampire. Together with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse), best friend ”Evil” Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) and the reluctant Vincent, Charlie risks his neck in an attempt to rid the world of the man he quite rightly believes is slowly munching his way through the townsfolk.


Like so many horror films from this era, FRIGHT NIGHT has left a legacy on the genre that continues to influence filmmakers to this day and with a strong cult following and continuing positive reviews, it has managed to outstay many of the lesser exploitation pictures that fell by the wayside. This is in most part due to the great performances, particularly those of the aforementioned Sarandon who is brilliantly sadistic as the violent vampire and Saturn award winner Roddy McDowall whose dignified portrayal of the aptly named Peter Vincent (a loving reference to horror legends Peter Cushing and Vincent Price) lends FRIGHT NIGHT much of its enjoyment. The highly quotable script by director Holland is another highlight, witty and amusing while having fun both adhering to and subverting the classic vampiric tropes laid down by Universal and Hammer.


But beyond its spirited performances, cineliterate screenplay and the iconic poster perfectly designed to stand out on a video rental shelf, FRIGHT NIGHT is simply a thoroughly enjoyable joyride that has all of the giggles, gasps and gore any true horror fan could possibly want. A loving tribute to the cinema of the past embellished with all of the hideous fashions, synthesised music and wonderfully gruesome makeup effects that made 1980’s horror so memorable, FRIGHT NIGHT may not be the most sophisticated of vampire movies but it is certainly one of the most relentlessly enjoyable and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it again very soon.

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