I suppose a night like this would be pretty frightening, but I found it kind of fun (and annoying)!
We’ve all seen them: the solid, classic 80s teen movies, whether they be high school romance, or horror, or whatever Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is. They’re cool! Everyone has high waisted pants! Somehow virgins are always mentioned! What’s up with that?
Well, the original Fright Night, directed by Tom Holland (no, not that one, obviously) and available on Prime Video, is truly an 80s classic. From the huge house of a single mother to the probably-awesome-for-the-time CGI, Fright Night delivers a nice little Halloween escapade into the life of a rightfully terrified teenager with no one on his side.
***AHHHHHHHH! it’s spoilers***
Another TW for sexual assault because, well, life sucks, doesn’t it?
Firstly, it’s been a couple days since I watched this, because I didn’t have the willpower to review anything for a bit (grrrrr….The Quiet Ones) and, as such, I won’t go into detail with the story so I don’t mess it up too much!
Fright Night opens with a cool uninterrupted shot coming from outside of a house at night and then into one of the open windows where a TV show (called, ahem, Fright Night) plays as two teenagers, Charley (William Ragsdale) and Amy (Amanda Bearse) make out on the floor. Charley, the little rascal, tried to shove his hand up Amy’s shirt until she yells at him to stop–what a scamp!–and he jumps up, mad that they’ve been “going for a year” but he always hears “no.” Hey, Charley? Hey, bud, come here–I don’t give a shit.
I’ll just put it out there: a lot of 80s movies are like this. They have teen boys who do sexual things to girls for laughs, or get mad when the girl doesn’t want to do something. Yes, it was a product of the time, but that means it was a BAD TIME. Get over it. It’s not cool. That being said, I knew this movie was bound to have something like that, but I will say that all the little quirks of the 80s in that vein definitely take this movie down a star for me. Whomp whomp, I guess.
Amy, though, isn’t as cruel as I am, apparently, and apologizes to Charley (RIDICULOUS!) and says she is ready to make love. Charley, ever the freakin’ dummy, decides to stare out the window at some people carrying a coffin into his new neighbor’s house, leaving poor Amy shirtless and embarrassed on the bed. They fight, Amy leaves, and the next day, a pretty blonde asks Charley for directions to the new neighbor’s house. Her body is found dead the day after that.
After Charley–who literally always has his window open–stares into the neighbor, Jerry Dandridge’s (Chris Sarandon) house and sees a naked lady getting all kissed by Jerry, good ol’ Charley pulls out his binoculars like any healthy 80s boy-teen and watches the scene from, like, twenty feet away (Charley, they can see you.) Of course, just as Jerry is about to bite the woman’s neck with his fangs, he spots Charley and slowly closes the window. That lady is found dead, too! Wow.
It’s not a very inspired storyline, I have to say. Jerry is a bad vampire, unless he wanted Charley to see him all this time. He literally stood in front of an open window in a lit room to bite this woman; why would he do that if he wanted to keep it secret?
Anyway, that’s how the party kicks off. After that, Charley goes around trying to convince Amy and some kid who isn’t even his friend, Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), that Jerry is a vampire. Jerry gets real mad when Charley is exposed by his own mother to be spying on Jerry. For revenge, Jerry locks Charley’s mom in her room–or, rather, shuts her door so hard that it won’t open (???) and then threatens Charley. So, Charley knows for sure this guy is a vampire. This movie is not a mystery–and, honestly, it’s better that viewers know how right Charley is, because, when no one believes him, the sense of frustration (and irony) is a lot stronger.
It isn’t until Charley (and then Amy and Evil Ed) enlist the help of aging horror star Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), the host of Charley’s favorite show, Fright Night, that Amy and Evil Ed believe him. Peter Vincent tries to prove that Jerry isn’t a vamp, but ends up proving that he is, and the old man flees the scene.
Now, this movie, like I said, is pretty classic horror fun. It isn’t funny, per se, but it’s not gory or scary. However, I have to mention that there is a part that made me really sad, and it’s also one of the parts of the movie that made the least sense to me, so I didn’t enjoy it. Jerry corners Evil Ed in an alley at night, then tells Ed that he can erase all of his pain and protect him from bullies; he basically promises Ed power and friendship (sorta?) for all of eternity. And for some reason, Ed believes this? Ed, who has been hanging out with Amy and Charley for the whole movie, and who hasn’t been bullied a single time on screen (that I can remember), sides with the vampire. He gets bit, ya’ll.
The rest of the film is pretty par for the course. Ed attacks Vincent Peter, and Charley enlists Peter’s help again because Jerry has stolen Amy, who happens to look like Jerry’s long-lost love, or something.
Then things get weird again; Jerry dresses Amy in a fancy little dress only to hypnotize her, I guess, and remove the dress to–I’m not sure. I’m not sure what he’s doing because they kiss, and maybe they’re having sex? Maybe? But then he immediately bites her. I don’t want to get into the details because MY FAMILY READS THIS! But its another one of those 80s things. Even though Amanda Bearse was nearing 30 at the time of filming, Fright Night is showing an obviously older character taking advantage of a teenage character. That’s, like, weird to see on screen. Like, morally, but also just not usual for movies and TV these days (correct me if I’m wrong, but I do try to avoid stuff like that.)
And then, when Charley and Peter arrive, Jerry tells them that Amy is upstairs just chilling, waiting to turn, and they can go right up if they get past him (they do.) Why, if he’s turning Amy into his lover, did he give her up so easily? What was all that work for, Jerry? You suck (ha) as a vampire. Really.
We then get a series of hilariously long fight scenes to show off that CGI until Charley and Vincent Peter successfully burn Jerry to death with the sun, and that somehow turns Amy back into herself. Yay, happy ending! Except, as the couple is making out with the window open again, Evil Ed’s glowing eyes peer in from Jerry’s house, and he laughs.
I know that there is a sequel, so maybe this is explained later, but why is Ed alive? Not only was he literally killed (maybe stakes don’t really work), but Jerry is dead, and, as far as I remember, Ed was bitten the same night as Amy, so he should have turned back to a human too, right?
Eh, its not that serious. Who cares!
If you’re looking for a reasonably paced, not-horrifying horror movie, and you’re into the 1980s, Fright Night will definitely fit the bill.