Fright Night is thematically similar to The Monster Squad. It’s about a young horror-movie fan who discovers that the creatures he fantasizes about are not only real, but are coming to get him. Though Charlie is less obsessed with monsters than the kids in the Monster Squad, now that he’s discovered girls.
After observing some strange goings-on next door (and neglecting his girlfriend in the process) Charlie concludes that his mysterious new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge is a vampire and is responsible for killing several prostitutes in the area. The police, as well as everyone else he knows, are skeptical, so Charlie elicits the help of Peter Vincint, a washed-up actor who starred in many a hammer-horror like vampire film back in the day and now works as an Elvira-like host to televised monster movies.
Charlie (William Ragsdale) is not the most engaging of heroes. We don’t get much insight to his personality. He becomes obsessed with the vampire to the point that he ignores his girlfriend stripping on his bed, presumably because he’s such a fan of vampire movies; but then he needs his annoying, screechy friend, Evil Ed, to tell him that garlic and crosses repel vampires. What kind of vampire movie fan doesn’t know that? In the end, Charlie does stand up and fight, but I never particularity liked or disliked him; he’s just a seat-filler.
Evil Ed is just irritating. He adds nothing to the movie (except cannon fodder) and is largely useless as a person. I’m not sure why Charlie and company invite him along, since he contributes nothing and is highly unlikable.
Charlie’s girlfriend, Amy, is played by Amada Bearse, who is much better known as the stuck-up and flat-chested neighbor, Marcy D’Arcy (Rhoades), on Married…With Children. She does well with comedy and is sexy enough in her vampiress form, while still being a believable girlfriend for the dull Charlie.
Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) is great as the former star of mediocre films that has been beaten down by life. His adventures with Charlie give him a chance at redemption, making his the only well-developed character arc in the movie.
The make-up effects are pretty nice, but are integrated cheaply (show monster, cut away, show monster slightly transformed, cut away, show monster a little more transformed than last time…). There’s a bit of graphic violence inflicted on the monsters, but by its nature, it comes off as a more fantastical and cartoonish than disturbing.
Fright Night has quite a cult following. Unlike other cult movies, it doesn’t have very memorable characters, scenes, or lines; but I think it speaks to people who are fans of older monster movies. It takes classic vampire movie cliches and integrates them into a modern (for its time) teen movie. The resulting product, though not original, is appealing and likable in a nostalgic sort of way.
The Blu Ray, from Twilight Time was limited to 3000 copies and is now sold out. The video looks good, and appropriate for a movie of its age. There are no extras.