One of the most intriguing lines in Fright Night comes from a character based on people like Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, a therefor named Peter Vincent. He’s a local television host introducing horror movies from the 60s and 70s on a show named Fright Night. He stars in most of the movies he shows as well. At one point he says “Apparently your generation doesn’t want to see vampire killers anymore, nor vampires either. All they want to see slashers running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins.” With this quote it places the movie in a certain perspective. It was created in a time that most horror movies released were simple slashers so this being a vampire movie could be compared to the Scream movies being released when the slashers were dead in the 90s.
That said, the movie does not hold up as well as Scream. There are a couple of things that annoyed me throughout the movie. First and most of all the character of Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). A supporting character that is supposed to be this obnoxious nerd. Well, obnoxious he is, as he amps it up all the way to eleven. He has a scrawny voice and overacts constantly making his character annoying to view. This guy I would love to see in a slasher movie and get hacked up before the opening credits. The actor portraying him went on to star in gay porn movies in the 90s. Talk about a career change.
Then there’s love interest Amanda Bearse (Marcy D’Arcy from Married With Children). Now she’s OK but she has absolutely no chemistry with her lead. And she also plays one of those frigid girls who you date for a year and still don’t let you get to second base. The lack of chemistry might be due to the fact that Ms Bearse was a lesbian.
The rest of the cast are typical 80s in terms of acting. A bit over the top here and unconvincing there. Only the main adult actors, Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall, put in nice performances and seem to be aware in what kind of movie they are.
The movie in my opinion establishes too soon that the neighbor is really a vampire. The first part has the potential to go all “Rear Window” with vampires but basically immediately establishes the vampire-fact after which the movie goes onto the nobody-believes-the-lead-character-until-it’s-too-late routine which took too long. More suspense and less hysterics would have made this movie better.
But despite the flaws it’s still a fun little movie. Nothing groundbreaking and not as much comedy as I would expect after hearing the buzz around this movie but it’s lighthearted, gory yet never nasty and seeing it you just got to love the time that all the effects were practical and not computer generated, despite the fact they are obvious effects in certain shots.
Maybe I should have seen this movie way back in 1992 when I started taping horror movies that were broadcast on TV and mostly released in the 80s. A time when I watched movies like Critters, The Gate, Ticks, Hellraiser and such. I would have probably loved it more back then than I did now. Now it just feels a bit dated due to the acting, the effects, pacing and of course the fact that this movie is still based on the old school vampires instead of the vampires we have gotten used to in movies like Blade or even … Twilight. OK so forget Twilight.
It was a fun 100 minutes, but nothing memorable.