FRIGHT NIGHT. 1985. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOM HOLLAND. STARRING CHRIS SARANDON, RODDY MCDOWALL, WILLIAM RAGSDALE, AMANDA BEARSE AND STEPHEN GEOFFREYS. MUSIC BY BRAD FIEDEL. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is a terrific mid-‘Eighties horror film that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still delivers approximately one-hundred-and-two minutes of compulsive viewing. For me, there are two factors that make this a great watch. The first is the presence of the drop-dead-gorgeous Chris Sarandon.
I’ve had a gigantic crush on him since I first saw him in THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987). All my friends were busy fancying Cary Elwes as Westley. I only had eyes for the deliciously evil Prince Humperdinck, who just wanted to marry the princess so he could use her as an excuse to go to war against a neighbouring kingdom. The cad…!
His wavy hair is thick and luxuriant, his superior sneer beats Billy Idol’s and Elvis Presley’s put together and his butt is as sublime as the most perfect poem you can think of. Unfortunately, you only get to see it clothed in FRIGHT NIGHT, but I know it’s there, goddammit…
Thinking of Chris Sarandon’s lovely tight butt nearly made me forget the second reason why this is a great film. It pays the most affectionate homage to the legendary horror actors who in their time played vampires, vampire-hunters, Frankenstein’s Monster, ancient Egyptian mummies, mad scientists and scurrilous murderers. We’re talking about Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. It’s wonderful to see the obvious respect the film-makers have for the old guard of horror stalwarts.
The more modern kind of horror gets an homage too, which is also right, proper and fitting. When Peter Vincent, presenter of great old-fashioned horror show FRIGHT NIGHT, tells the protagonist Charley Brewster that the kids of today only want to see ‘demented madmen running around stabbing virgins,’ or words to that effect, we know that he’s referring to the uncrowned King of Camp Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees.
And when Jerry’s friend Billy comes a cropper at the hands of Peter Vincent and then sits back up again in that sudden, jerky fashion, I know that I was thinking immediately of Michael Myers, who in his own way is the King of I-get-knocked-down, I-get-back-up-again, you’re-never-gonna-keep-me-down, I-get-knocked-down and so on and so forth.
I’m sorry, I’ve been so busy enthusing about the merits of the film that I haven’t even told you the plot yet. Charley Brewster is an American high-school student who’s convinced that the man who’s just moved in next door is a vampire. The stylish new neighbour Jerry Dandridge, brilliantly played by Chris Sarandon, steals the show as the handsome, suave, super-cool, super-sexy vampire who attracts women to him like flies round a jam-pot, including Charley’s own mother Judy and his girlfriend Amy.
A desperate Charley enlists the help of ageing horror show presenter Peter Vincent in his attempts to stop Dandridge’s murderous reign. All the classic tried-and-tested methods of vampire-subjugation used in the old horror films are employed in the process, which again is lovely to see.
We’ve got holy water, crucifixes galore and good old-fashioned sunlight being used in the crusade against the vampire, and once again it’s clear that the film-makers have a great deal of affection for the classic horror movies and the men who starred in them so unforgettably. I’m grateful to them for that. It’s one of the reasons that I love this film so much, as I said earlier.
Okay, so there’s enough ham and cheese in the film to make a few fair-sized sandwiches and the hairstyles and clothes are painfully ‘Eighties at times but you know what…? It doesn’t matter a jot. The film is great fun and Chris Sarandon is bloody brilliant as the vampire. Roddy McDowall makes a terrific would-be vampire-killer too.
My one niggle is that Chris Sarandon’s butt is never seen unclothed. Now, that would have been truly something to write home about, seeing him all nekkid and everything. Never mind. A girl can dream, can’t she…? And dream, and dream, and dream, and dream again…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY