After reviewing the 2011 remake of Fright Night, it never felt right that we hadn’t published our feelings about the 1985 original.
Fright Night was one of the more memorable horror films from my childhood. It helped set the foundations for what grew to be a horror obsession, and as is usually the case with films of this period, the key to this was the simplicity of the story, pumping synth soundtrack and amped up gore.
Charlie Brewster is your average 80’s teenage kid. When he’s not at school he’s hanging out in his cool, apartment sized bedroom and trying to get to third base with his girlfriend.
But it’s whilst doing this one night, he witnesses something chilling from his bedroom. A pair of mysterious men carry what looks to be a coffin into the empty house next door. Being an avid horror fanatic, Charlie is transfixed by the events and his girlfriend is left feeling neglected and upset.
The following night things get more terrifying when Charlie decides to check up on his new neighbours. Before his eyes, a man with fangs bites a beautiful woman’s neck, sending the blood gushing. Worse still, the vampire notices Charlie during the act, making Charlie a witness and potentially the next target for a bit of blood letting.
After some close brushes with Jerry Dandridge, his neighbour of the night, Charlie has to find ways to defend himself and those that matter most to him. Enlisting the help of his reluctant vampire hunting TV hero, Peter Vincent, he finds that the only way to put an end to this horrible ordeal is to face the vampire and end his murderous rampage. Question is, does Charlie have what it takes?
As has already been touched upon in this review, Fright Night does contain the main ingredients for a good 80’s horror. The way it looks and sounds has a magic that just can’t be recreated, even though some have tried (The House of the Devil being one).
The script is predictable and filled with cliche, the characters are exaggerated caricatures, and the plot is basic and almost too silly to tolerate. But somehow it just works.
Is it just nostalgia that makes me feel this way? Possibly.
But Fright Night was created to attract teens the the cinema, make them cuddle up in the dark, excite them with shocks and screams, then make them wince at the blood and slime. All of which it does very well.
Fright Night won’t give you nightmares; it won’t change the way you think about vampires; it won’t amaze you with its ground-breaking storyline or cinematic techniques (as neither are groundbreaking). But Fright Night will make you smile; make you jump from time to time; and it’ll make you wonder why they can’t make fun films like this anymore.
From its shlocky script to its latex Thriller-like monster makeup, Fright Night is good, old fashioned fun. It proves that you don’t have to make your horror audience feel physically sick to entertain them.