A minor classic of the genre, this is a memorable addition to the vampire tradition in the horror film. FRIGHT NIGHT depicts the plight of Charley Brewster (Ragsdale), a fatherless teenager tottering on the brink of manhood, as he becomes obsessed with the charming new man next door,
Jerry Dandridge (Sarandon). He is convinced that his neighbor is actually a vampire and responsible for a series of local murders. Charley alerts the local authorities but they dismiss him as a crank. His mom (Dorothy Fielding) won't listen to him and even his best buddy, Evil Ed (Geoffreys), and
his devoted girlfriend, Amy Peterson (Bearse), think he's crazy. Desperate, Charley turns to the only vampire expert he can find, Peter Vincent (McDowall), an aging washed-up horror movie ham. Though at first he only humors the boy, Vincent soon realizes that Charley is telling the truth.
This film is the feature directing debut of Tom Holland who was previously known for his smart genre screenplays-- CLASS OF 1984, CLOAK AND DAGGER and PSYCHO II. Like his earlier scripts, FRIGHT NIGHT is a clever amalgam; this teen-oriented vampire movie deftly combines Hitchcockian themes, Hammer
horror trappings, a subversive gay subtext and a John Hughes milieu into a genuinely scary horror movie that is comfortably old-fashioned yet cool.
Holland, a former actor, elicits much better than average performances from his teen actors. Stephen Geoffreys is particularly enjoyable in a crazed Jack Nicholson turn as Evil Ed. The more seasoned players deliver outstanding performances. Chris Sarandon is stunning as the sensually handsome--yet
deadly--new neighbor. Roddy McDowall is also in fine form in his best role in years as the cynical has-been who must become a true hero. FRIGHT NIGHT may not be great art but it is great fun.
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